International Plenary Speakers
Dr Michael Mosley
Michael Mosley is a science presenter, writer and executive producer. He is the writer and presenter of The Story of Science, and is also the face of science and medicine on The One Show.
After training as a doctor at the Royal Free in London, Michael decided to switch courses. He initially worked behind the scenes on Newsnight, Tomorrow’s World, Horizon and the popular business series Troubleshooter.
Michael has since produced a wide range of science-based programmes including the The Human Face with John Cleese, three series with Professor Robert Winston, and Jeremy Clarkson’s Inventions That Changed The World. He also helped launch Alan Yentob’s presenting career with an acclaimed appraisal of Leonardo da Vinci.
In front of camera, Michael has presented Make Me and 10 Things You Never Knew about Losing Weight – as well as the surgery series Blood and Guts. He’s also fronted other shows including Medical Mavericks looking at those behind the great developments in medicine, Inside the Human Body examining all the workings of the body, and Frontline Medicine highlighting the innovative and vital link between warfare and medicine. For Radio 4 he wrote and presented The Making of Modern Medicine.
Michael’s programmes on exercise (The Truth About Exercise) and diet (Eat, Fast & Live Longer – which led to the hugely popular 5:2 diet) have produced much popular and media discussion as he examined the benefits of short, high-intensity exercise and fasting for two days a week.
He has received a host of BAFTA and Emmy nominations, and been named Medical Journalist
of the Year by the British Medical Association.
Professor Lorna Harries
Lorna Harries is Associate Professor in Molecular Genetics at the University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health. She gained her PhD in Genetics from University College London in November 1994 and has worked at a number of institutions including the University of Dundee and the University of Sussex. Lorna relocated to the South West of England in 2001 and established the RNA-mediated disease mechanisms group at the University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health in 2006. Her group has interests in Omics approaches to the study of human ageing and age-related disease processes in man with a specific current focus on alternative messenger RNA processing, non-coding RNA and epigenetic gene regulation. Her work ranges from ‘big data’ approaches (whole genome transcriptomics and epigenetics) to detailed individual molecular analysis of particular genes and encompasses assessment of effects at the molecular, cellular and systemic levels. Lorna’s funding sources include the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council, the Dunhill Medical trust and Diabetes UK, and she is currently honorary General Secretary of the British Society for Research on Ageing (BSRA). She has written over 125 peer-reviewed articles in her career and was awarded the Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Prize Lectureship in 2011.
Dr Zi-Bing Jin
Dr. Jin is now the full professor of Wenzhou Medical University (WMU) and co-director of The Stem Cell Research Institute and National Center for International Research in Regenerative Medicine and Neurogenetics, WMU. He is heading the Laboratory for Stem Cell and Retinal Regeneration as well as the Division of Ophthalmic Genetics, The Eye Hospital of WMU. He received 3-year resident training in Ophthalmology after obtain his M.D. (MBBS) from Wenzhou Medical College in 2000. He obtained Ph.D degree from University of Miyazaki in 2007 and then worked for 2-year as a postdoctoral fellow (JSPS fellowship) and 2-year research scientist (FPR) at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology under Dr. Masayo Takahashi’s supervision before returning to Wenzhou Medical College (renamed as University in 2013) in 2011.
Dr. Jin focuses on stem cell translational medicine and genetic mechanisms of ocular diseases. His lab is dedicating to make efforts on elucidating the disease mechanisms of inherited and acquired retinal degeneration, translating laboratory technology to improve bedside outcome, and solving key basic problems together with retina specialists. He is also developing RPE/photoreceptor replacement therapy using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, transdifferentiated retinal cells and bio-degradable scaffolds.
Dr. Jin has published 90 peer-reviewed papers with more than 1800 citations in renowned journals including PNAS, Nature Communications, Stem Cell Reports, Cell Report, Stem Cell Translational Medicine, Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, Biological Reviews, IOVS, Genetics in Medicine. He serves as the associate editor or editorial member of Ophthalmic Research, Experimental Eye Research, and Ophthalmic Genetics. He has been the ad hoc reviewer for more than 30 SCI journals and 4 major national/international foundations.
National Keynote Speakers
In 2017, Prof Chris Levi was appointed Executive Director, Maridulu Budyari Gumal, the Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE). Prior to this appointment, over the past 15 years, Prof Chris Levi working as a clinival academic neurologist established one of Australia’s leading stroke research groups. His overarching research vision has been the translation of experimental stroke therapies into the clinical domain. This builds on a career objective to provide health care professionals with greater knowledge, better tools and more effective strategies to treat and prevent stroke. A key attribute has been his focus on developing research ideas and directions that are ‘grounded’ in clinical relevance, bringing together the academic and clinical sectors in research and translation partnerships. This focus and determination led to his appointment as the inaugural Director, Clinical Research and Translation for the Hunter New England Local Health District where he built the platform for the establishment of the Centre for Innovation in Regional Health, NSW Regional Health Partners prior to his move to Sydney to lead the SPHERE.
Nigel Lovell received the B.E. (Hons) and Ph.D. degrees from UNSW Sydney, Australia. He is currently at the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering UNSW Sydney where he holds a position of Scientia Professor and Head of School. He has authored 260+ journal papers and been awarded over $80 million in R&D and infrastructure funding. Over his career he has mentored 70 PhD students and delivered more than a hundred keynote presentations. He is a Fellow of seven learned academies throughout the world including the IEEE and AIMBE.
His research work has covered areas of expertise ranging from cardiac and retinal modeling, medical informatics and data analytics especially related to telehealth technologies, biological signal processing, and visual prosthesis design. Through a spin-out company from UNSW, TeleMedCare Pty. Ltd., that he co-founded he has commercialised a range of telehealth technologies for managing chronic disease and falls in the older population. He is also one of the key researchers leading an R&D program to develop in Australia a retinal neuroprosthesis or ‘bionic eye’. For 2017 and 2018 he was the President of the world’s largest biomedical engineering society – the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society.
Robyn Guymer is Professor of Ophthalmology at Melbourne University and a deputy director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia. She is also a senior retinal specialist at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. She is a clinician scientist who leads a team of researchers primarily investigating Age related macular degeneration (AMD) and has co-authored over 300 peer reviewed papers. She is currently investigating new strategies for treating early stages of AMD and is working to identify novel imaging and functional biomarkers and surrogate endpoints to improve the feasibility of conducting early intervention trials. She has been a principal investigator in many industry sponsored trials, serves on several pharmaceutical advisory boards and is a member of several international working groups on macular diseases. She is an inaugural fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Professor Guymer was awarded the NHMRC’s 2016 Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship for the top ranked female research fellowship in clinical medicine. In June 2018 she was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia AM for significant service to medicine in the field of ophthalmology, particularly age related macular degeneration as a clinician, academic and researcher.
Local Invited Speakers
Andrew Whitehouse is the Angela Wright Bennett Professor of Autism Research at the Telethon Kids Institute and Professor of Autism Research at The University of Western Australia. He is also Chief Research Officer of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) and Adjunct Professor at Curtin University and Edith Cowan University.
At the Telethon Kids Institute he leads a large team that use a wide range of methodologies to investigate the early identification and intervention of children with Autism Spectrum Conditions, including molecular genetics, neuroscience, endocrinology, behavioural experiments and clinical trials. Andrew has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles and attracted over $35 million in competitive research grants. He currently presents an internationally syndicated video series called ’60 Second Science”, which has been viewed by over 1.5 million people. He is an advisor to State and Commonwealth Governments on policies relating to children with Autism Spectrum Conditions, and he chaired the committee that generated Australia’s first national guideline for autism diagnosis.
Andrew has published one edited book with his twin-brother (Ben), and a popular science book that examined the science behind some of the myths of pregnancy and child development (Will Mozart Make My Baby Smart?). He has also been awarded Australia’s most prestigious scientific award, the Eureka Prize. Prior to coming to the Telethon Kids Institute, Andrew was a Fellow at the University of Oxford.
Dr David Whyatt completed his PhD into the regulation of erythropoiesis at the National Institute for Medical Research (London, UK) in 1994. He then moved to the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In 1996 joined the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (Melbourne), studying heart morphogenesis. In 1997, he returned to the Netherlands, and received a European Molecular Biology Organisation long-term fellowship to undertake research at the Dutch Cancer Institute. In 2000 he returned to the Erasmus University. In 2003, he moved to Geraldton, WA, moving from laboratory-based basic research to applied primary health care research at the Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health. Since 2007 he has been at the Medical School, UWA. He is the research lead for the Collaborative for Healthcare Analysis and Statistical Modelling (CHASM), which involves researchers from four University of Western Australia Schools (Mathematics and Statistics; Population Health; Medical; Earth and Environment). This collaboration is funded by the Department of Health WA to develop sophisticated methods to measure access, equity, and outcomes in healthcare.
Doctor Fred Chen is a clinician-academic at Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Science at The University of Western Australia. His work on the doctoral thesis, “RPE transplantation in retinal diseases” at University College of London, has provided the proof of concept for cell therapy in macular degeneration.
He returned to Perth to establish the Ocular Tissue Engineering Laboratory at Lions Eye Institute to investigate the causes of and discover new treatment for common and rare forms of retinal degeneration.
Fred has gained national and international recognition in the field of retinal clinical trials endpoint analysis, retinal cell transplantation and patient derived iPSC.
He is an MRFF Career Development Fellow and has been an investigator on project grant and Centre of Research Excellence grant.
He has a large circle of collaborators including optical engineers, computer scientists, biochemist, cell biologists, epidemiologist and clinical trialists.
Professor Grant Morahan has a doctorate from the University of Melbourne and worked as a Fogarty Fellow at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, USA. In 2005, he was appointed Inaugural Diabetes Research Foundation Professor at the University of Western Australia, and Director of the Centre for Diabetes Research at Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Perth. He is now Scientific Director of the Clinical Sciences Division of the Harry Perkins Institute and is a Joint Professor at the Chinese Academy of Medical Science’s Institute of Laboratory Animal Sciences in Beijing.
His research has included genetics of complex diseases, genetics of type 1 diabetes in humans and in animal models; systems genetics, application of advanced genetic technologies and genetic prediction of disease outcomes. This work has resulted in over 200 papers, including 20 in leading journals such as Nature, Science, Lancet, Nature Genetics, PNAS, etc.
Prof Morahan has also developed the next-generation genetic resource, The Gene Mine, the most powerful of its type in the world, used globally in rapid mapping and identification of genes. Furthermore, he invented the term ‘Systems Genetics’ for the science field that examines how genetic variants can affect whole networks of genes and whole systems.
John is a qualified social worker and psychologist. He worked for many years in the field of education where he had a particular interest in working with children experiencing learning difficulties, including children with hearing impairments. John experienced his own rapid hearing loss resulting in his withdrawal from his professional position in 2014. John was the successful recipient of a cochlear implant in 2015. In 2016 he received a second implant that resulted in complications affecting the facial nerve. This implant was subsequently removed and successfully replaced to give John bilateral hearing. John is now fully retired from his profession as a psychologist.
Leon Flicker is the inaugural Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Western Australia since 1998, having previously trained in Sydney, Newcastle and Melbourne. He is Executive Director of the Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing. He led the reorganization of undergraduate and postgraduate education in geriatric medicine in Western Australia. He remains a practicing geriatrician and is a consultant geriatrician at Royal Perth Hospital
Leon’s research activities have focused on the major health issues of older people, including falls, depression and cognitive impairment. He has performed and reported many studies about frailty and successful ageing. To date, Leon has published 14 book chapters, 410 peer-reviewed articles, has been cited on over 19,000 occasions, with over 9000 citations since 2014 and his Google scholar H-index is currently 71. With colleagues, he has received over $25 million of grant support from the NHMRC and has held project grants continuously since 1996. He has served on numerous government committees and professional organizations. He has been Chair of Asia Pacific Geriatric Medicine Network for the last 14 years. In 2017 he was honored with an Officer of the Order of Australia for his contributions to geriatric medicine and dementia prevention and care.
Professor Marcus Atlas has held the Garnett Passe and Rodney William Memorial Foundation Chair in Otolaryngology, The University of Western Australia (UWA) from 2000 to early 2018. He is now an Emeritus Professor at UWA in recognition of service to the University. He is currently the Foundation Director of Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA) and the Ear Sciences Centre at UWA. He has an international reputation in ear and skull base surgery establishing a large multidisciplinary skull base surgery unit and a new cochlear implant clinic. Under his directorship, Ear Science Institute Australia has grown from small beginnings in 2001 into a medical research institute employing 100 clinicians, scientist, audiologist and students in two new buildings focused on translational research, clinical service and education.
He was a member of the Court of Examiners, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons for which he received an Award of Distinction. He is a past editor of the Australian Journal of Otolaryngology and sits on the editorial board of numerous journals. He has published over 150 international publications, two editions of a book and a three volume DVD.
He was a recipient of the Australian Medical Association Award, the Deafness Council Award in 2011 and the Australian Society of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery Medal in 2013. In 2014 he was a West Australian of the Year Finalist and a West Australian Finalist for the Australian of the Year in 2015.
Lindy Fitzgerald is Professor of Neurotrauma and Deputy Director of the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, jointly appointed by the Perron Institute. Her research goal is to improve outcomes for patients who have experienced traumatic injury to their central nervous system. She leads her pre-clinical research team in studies to understand how damage spreads following neurotrauma, and uses findings from these fundamental studies to design and test treatment strategies. She is working with her collaborators and clinical research team to facilitate translation of her pre-clinical findings, focussing on prediction of persisting post-concussion symptoms, in order to identify suitable patients for treatment. The work is part of a broader nationwide strategy to predict and improve outcomes following traumatic brain injury of all severities.
Prof Fitzgerald has published over 80 scientific papers, including in discipline leading journals such as J Neuroscience, Nature Nano, ACS Nano, and Biomaterials. She is regularly invited to speak at national and international scientific meetings and has been awarded $8.4 million in funding to support her research. She is a Handling Editor for the Journal of Neurochemistry, the Australian representative for the Asia Pacific Regional Committee for IBRO and serves on grant review panels and scientific advisory committees.
Associate Professor Simon Laws currently leads the Collaborative Genomics Group, within the Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care part of Edith Cowan University’s School of Medical and Health Sciences. His group is based at the Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute where they utilise an integrative “omic” approach to Alzheimer’s Disease research through combining genetic, epigenetic and comprehensive longitudinal phenotype data. His research primarily focuses on understanding the genetic and epigenetic architecture of Alzheimer’s Disease and related phenotypes, such as changes in memory performance and pathological features in the brain, as well as studying the interaction of genomics and modifiable lifestyle factors and the impact this has on rates of change in AD-related phenotypes. A/Prof Laws has published over 110 scientific papers, including in discipline leading journals such as Molecular Psychiatry, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, JAMA Neurology, Neurology, and Translational Psychiatry and has received approximately $5 million in NHMRC, Industry and philanthropic funding to support his research.
Sue Fletcher completed her first degree at the University of Zimbabwe and PhD at The University of Western Australia, where she worked for 24 years until moving to Murdoch University in 2013. She is Deputy Director of the Centre for Comparative Genomics and Principal Research Fellow at Murdoch University, working with Steve Wilton on developing antisense therapies for inherited disorders, a collaboration that has endured for 26 years.
The group pioneered antisense oligomer induced exon skipping to overcome dystrophin mutations that cause Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and have developed antisense oligomers to skip all amenable dystrophin exons. The novel antisense oligomer therapeutic Eteplirsen/ExonDys51, (licensed by Sarepta Therapeutics) is the first, and currently only drug to have altered the natural history of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
In 2012, the contribution of Professors Fletcher and Wilton to research and innovation in Western Australia was recognised by the WA Department of Commerce ‘Mitsubishi Western Australian Innovator of the Year’ Award. In September 2013 they were awarded an Australia Museum Eureka Prize: the NSW Jamie Callachor Eureka Prize for Medical Research Translation for the development of a therapy for DMD. The group are now developing antisense therapeutics for other rare disorders.