This week at Science in Public

This Week

Growing bones; inside Chernobyl; Obama green chemistry adviser; Trump’s Aussie mate; from frog venom to TV screens

Chemistry-RACI, Conferences, Media releases, RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress

It’s a week of discovering how chemistry is changing our world—international and national speakers are in Melbourne and ready to talk. Here are some highlights and we’ll have daily alerts for you with more people and ideas through the week. Media are welcome.

This Sunday, 5pm

  • Meet Trump’s ‘Aussie mate’ Andrew Liveris—Australian-born, US-based chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical Company, who Trump has appointed to lead his American Manufacturing Council. Liveris is not doing any media interviews but you can see and report his talk at 5pm
  • Opening of the RACI Centennial Chemistry Congress: 2,500 chemists, three Nobel Prize winners.

Monday 24 July

  • How seaweed and frog venom led to today’s OLED phone and TV screens. Andrew Holmes discusses what’s next for plastic electronics and solar energy
  • Molly Stevens grows bones—Molly is a tissue engineer growing bones, cartilage, nerve and heart tissue for regenerative medicine and bio-sensing. Last December she announced a patch that could fix a broken heart
  • Obama White House insider, and father of green chemistry, Paul Anastas on how we need to design smarter to create a sustainable society. For example, we need non-toxic solar cells, and biofuels that don’t compete with food production
  • New solvents from wood—invented in York, made in Tassie. The world needs good solvents for everything from cleaning the house, to making drugs, and miracle materials like graphene. York University’s James Clark has invented a new solvent that’s now being made in Tasmania.

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What have we achieved in 100 years of chemistry? And what’s next?

RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress

9 conferences and 2,500+ chemists under one roof

  • What’s the role of chemistry in shaping the economy, now and in the future?
  • What is e-drug discovery and what will it offer medicine?
  • Can chemistry help save the planet through energy storage or cleaner production?
  • How will chemistry address the challenges of the 21st Century?

In two weeks, Melbourne will host the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, celebrating the 100th birthday of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) and bringing nine national, regional and international conferences under one congress roof.

Visiting speakers include:

  • ‘Trump’s Aussie mate’ Andrew Liveris – Australian-born, US-based chairman and CEO Dow Chemical Company, who Trump has appointed to lead his American Manufacturing Council.
  • Nobel Prize for Chemistry (2005) winner Robert Grubbs (Caltech), who won for his work on a multistep reaction process and catalysts to help it. The benefits can be cleaner, cheaper and faster reactions.
  • His Excellency Mr Ahmet Üzümcü – Director-General, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (2013 Nobel Peace Prize winner)
  • Frances Arnold (Caltech) – American scientist and engineer, and a pioneer of ‘directed evolution’, which uses chemical engineering to create useful biological systems such as highly reactive enzymes or microorganisms that convert biomass to alternatives fuels.
  • Martyn Poliakoff (University of Nottingham) – a green chemistry research leader working with supercritical fluids – gases compressed under so much pressure that they have properties of both gases and liquids. Martyn is also a star of the YouTube series The Periodic Table of Videos.

If you’d like to attend the conference, media passes are available—contact Suzannah Lyons on suzannah@scienceinpublic.com.au to register.

We’ll be tweeting news and interesting content from the Congress from @RACI_HQ and using #RACI100.

For more information about the Congress itself, visit the website: www.racicongress.com.

First female scientist to win the David Syme Research Prize in over thirty years

Media releases

Fighting drug resistant bugs with ‘tyre tracks’

Cynthia Whitchurch discovered that dangerous bacteria in biofilms follow each other like ants, or 4WD drivers following tracks in the sand. Then she showed she could create microscopic tracks on medical devices to limit the spread of the bacteria that cause infection. Based on her work, new types of catheters are being developed that are less likely to become infected.

Cynthia Whitchurch in her lab. (Credit: UTS)

For these and other discoveries, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) scientist Associate Professor Cynthia Whitchurch has been jointly awarded the David Syme Research prize for the best original research in biology, physics, chemistry or geology, produced in Australia during the preceding two years. The prize was established in 1904 by a bequest from the publisher of The Age. It is administered by The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Science.

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Radar-in-a-suitcase makes bridges safer

Australian science stories, Stories of Aus Sci, The Australia-Indonesia Centre

Assessing ageing bridges just got safer and easier, thanks to a high-tech radar device that fits inside a suitcase.

Developed by Dr Lihai Zhang of The University of Melbourne as part of a collaborative research project supported by The Australia-Indonesia Centre, the IBIS-S radar technology can scan a bridge in 15 minutes from a kilometre away with an accuracy of 0.01mm, quickly assessing its condition and stability.

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Meet the publisher who believes science should be social and research should be read

Media releases, Nature

Steven Inchcoombe, Chief Publishing Officer for Springer Nature, is visiting Australia.

Steven Inchcoombe is the Chief Publishing Officer for Springer Nature, overseeing the publication of over 2,900 journals including influential titles like Nature and Scientific Reports.

Steven was responsible for the Nature Publishing Group’s move into open access publishing, resulting in 60 per cent of their 2015 research articles being open access. Following the merger of the parent company in the same year, Springer Nature became the world’s largest open access publisher.

He was also behind the SharedIt content-sharing initiative which allows authors, subscribers and media partners to share links to the Springer Nature’s peer-reviewed research articles on social network and websites. A 15-month trial of this idea on nature.com led to 1.3 million additional article views.

Visiting Australia from the UK, Steven is speaking about big data, open data and open access publishing, and their value for academic research at a series of half-day symposia and networking events being held this week in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

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Naturejobs celebrates Melbourne

Media releases, Nature

The extraordinary diversity of scientific research and collaboration found in Melbourne is celebrated in a Naturejobs supplement which publishes alongside Nature today. It includes an interactive map – based on data from the Nature Index – that reveals the extensive local, national and international links that make the city Australia’s life science capital, and number three in the world for biomedical research after Boston and London. “Our map shows Melbourne’s top 44 research institutions and charts the links between them,” says David Swinbanks, the founder of the Nature Index, the high-quality research publications database behind the map. “It allows users to dive in, explore the networks, and see the impact of each institution’s research.”

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Saving billions of teeth from a blood-eating mouth bug, Pg

Conferences, Media releases

You’ll want to brush your teeth after reading this media release

(Image credit: pixabay.com)

Melbourne is hosting a global conference this week of experts in the fight against a blood-eating bug that’s destroying bone and causing tooth loss in nearly one billion people, including nearly three million Australians.

“Most of us will get a bit of mild gum disease or gingivitis from time to time when ‘bad’ bacteria in our mouths get out of balance with ‘good’ bacteria,” says Professor Eric Reynolds, the Conference Chair. “Bacteria get between our gums and our teeth and an inflammation kicks off. If we’re unlucky then Pg moves in.”

“As this blood-eating bacterium grows in a biofilm (plaque) next to the gums it creates an environment that protects it and other similar bacteria in the plaque. It also changes the ecology of the mouth, setting off a cycle of inflammation and disease leading to the loss of bone from your jaw. Then your teeth fall out,” says Reynolds who is also Director of the Oral Health CRC based at The University of Melbourne. Quarterly scraping of the plaque helps, but doesn’t eliminate the infection in some individuals.

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Media highlights from the 15th World Congress on Public Health

Conferences, World Congress on Public Health

Science in Public was engaged to amplify the World Congress on Public Health: to build the buzz and reach the broader community.

The World Congress on Public Health reached a broad local and international audience, through hundreds of stories in mainstream and niche media—from BBC to Buzzfeed. Highlights included over three hours of national radio, and a feature interview with Leigh Sales on 7.30.

Media coverage

Highlights included:
• Television interviews with Congress speakers on ABC 7.30, Sky News and ABC News 24’s The World.
• A Fairfax media feature on the influence of celebrity on public health.
• ABC Radio National Life Matters opened the show with Congress guests every day for the full five weekdays of the Congress, with further interviews recorded at the Congress for future broadcast.
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Find out how to future-proof cities

Ecocity World Summit, Media releases

Speakers announced for the Ecocity World Summit, Melbourne, July

·      Cooling urban heat islands: in Australia, India and Spain

·      Urban transport politics: how did Canadian cities get through it?

·      Australian housing: we’re (sadly) getting what we paid for

·      Women leading sustainable and resilient cities

·      How will India’s coastal megacities cope with climate change?

100 sessions with 300 speakers from 30 different countries will explore these and many other topics.

How do cities become resilient, and how do you measure it? What are the hidden costs of cheap buildings? Can we increase density without losing green space? Can we grow food on rooftops? And what can cities and sub-national governments do when national governments don’t want a piece of the climate action? All this and more are on the agenda of the Ecocity World Summit in Melbourne this July.

“In Australia, we’ve just come through Cyclone Debbie, and seen severe storms and flooding across the Eastern states,” says Brendan Gleeson, Director of Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute and Summit co-convenor.

“We urgently need to safeguard our cities, towns and their people, in Australia and across the planet. The Ecocity World Summit program is designed to bring leading thinkers, researchers and practitioners together to share the evidence, strategies and tools we need to keep our cities liveable and sustainable in the face of global challenges.”

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Smashing the road toll: Easter and beyond

Conferences, Media releases, World Congress on Public Health

World Congress on Public Health points towards safer roads

  • Australia has been a leader in road safety policy but we’re still losing more than 1,200 lives on our roads each year
  • First year of driving critical for keeping adolescent drivers awake, alert and alive
  • Paving the way for autonomous vehicles
  • Aboriginal Australians three times more likely to die on roads: can we close the gap?

Road deaths in Australia peaked in 1970, when 3,798 people died. A long-term downwards trend in road deaths means our road toll is now less than a third of that peak figure, but the road toll and the burden of injuries from road accidents remain a public health challenge.

Globally, the road toll has plateaued at 1.25 million per year, but there are still high fatality rates in low income countries and it’s the number one cause of death among people aged 15 to 29 years.  [click to continue…]

International spotlight on Indigenous public health equity

Conferences, Media releases, World Congress on Public Health

Media release from the World Federation of Public Health Associations

Monday 10 April 2017

The World Federation of Public Health Associations has formed its first Indigenous Working Group on its 50th Anniversary.

At the 15th World Congress of Public Health Melbourne conference, 40 Indigenous and non-Indigenous conference delegates of the yarning circle unanimously supported in principle the establishment of the World Federation of Public Health Associations Indigenous Working Group.

The Public Health Association of Australia, on Tuesday 4th April 2017, hosted a yarning circle to talk about establishing an Indigenous Working Group. The yarning circle was led by Adrian Te Patu, the inaugural Indigenous representative on the World Federation of Public Health Association (WFPHA) Governing Council.

Once supported by the delegates, the formation of the Indigenous Working Group was accepted by acclimation by the world assembly of Public Health Associations. Under Mr. Te Patu’s leadership, the next steps are to formalise the Indigenous Working Group and develop its vision. [click to continue…]

Demand for Action on World Health Day

Conferences, Media releases, World Congress on Public Health

  •    On public health
  •    On chemical weapons
  •    And a call to Rome in 2020

Today, at the final day of the 15th World Congress on Public Health, delegates from over 83 countries carried by acclamation two Demands for Action.

Demanding that the World’s leaders make the public’s health a priority

  • Improving health outcomes for all
  • Fighting inequity as the primary driver of poor health
  • with political, social, environmental, and economic change across all sectors for better and more sustainable health.

The full text of the Demand is at http://www.wcph2017.com/d/WCPH2017-Melbourne-Demand-for-Action.pdf  [click to continue…]

World Health Day Statement: Meagre Rate Of Newstart IS A Health Issue – Time For A Raise

Conferences, Media releases, World Congress on Public Health

Joint Statement from Anti-Poverty Network SA and Public Health Association of Australia

Info: Anti-Poverty Network SA spokesperson Pas Forgione on 0411 587 663 or at antipovertynetwork.sa@gmail.com.
Public Health Association of Australia CEO Michael Moore on 0417 249 731 or at mmoore@phaa.net.au.

World Health Day, Friday April 7th, presents a timely opportunity to address the gross inadequacy of Newstart Allowance, which severely impacts the physical and mental health of the 800,000 Australians receiving the payment.

While none of Australia’s welfare payments are generous, it is alarming that Newstart, at $267 per week (roughly $13,800 per year), is over $160 per week (roughly $8,000 per year) below the poverty-line. It has not been raised in real terms since 1994. [click to continue…]

Thursday’s highlights from the World Congress on Public Health

Conferences, Media releases, World Congress on Public Health

  • congressPouring water on fast food kids’ meals
  • The inside story on Syria and eliminating chemical, nuclear, and bio weapons
  • WHO guru on what globalisation means for health security
  • Labia Library reveals ‘normal’ and fights genital cosmetic surgery trend
  • Providing abortion by telehealth: safe and effective
  • Making Melbourne a global health epicentre
  • Healthy Parks for public health
  • From dental health to MasterChef to Sugar Free Smiles

Thursday 6 April at the 15th World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne
Call Niall on 0417-131-977 for interviews

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Women’s health roundup from the Public Health Congress

Conferences, Media releases, World Congress on Public Health
  • congressLabia Library reveals ‘normal’ and fights genital cosmetic surgery trend
  • Women have gained 20 years of life expectancy since 1960 but 1 Australian woman dies each week due to domestic violence—today the WHO reveals the global problem
  • A smartphone app puts health advice in women’s pockets
  • Economic abuse is a form of domestic violence
  • Dead or Deadly: an Aboriginal women’s health that’s working
Women’s health, Thursday 6 April at the 15th World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne

Media contacts

1 in 3 women experiences violence from their partner

More than broken hearts says WHO’s Claudia Garcia-Moreno, head of research on violence against women at the WHO.

Worldwide, almost 1 in 3 women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

Claudia García-Moreno from the World Health Organization has studied the serious consequences of domestic violence for women’s physical, sexual and reproductive, and mental health—and what can be done to address it. [click to continue…]

Built environment codes and standards: an oft-overlooked determinant of the public’s health

Conferences, Media releases, World Congress on Public Health

Media release from Public Health Association of Australia

6 April 2017

phaPublic health discussion about the built environment often focuses on factors such as walkability, green spaces, liveability and transportation, yet overlooks the fact that most of the world’s population spends the greatest amount of their time in buildings, and that as a result the codes influencing their design, construction, operation and use are key determinants of health.

This issue will be addressed at the 15th World Congress on Public Health 2017, where over 2500 international delegates are gathered to share research, knowledge and ideas about public health, including its social determinants.

“Standards that govern design and construction regularly affect our health, security, safety, accessibility and wellbeing” said James Chauvin, former Director of Policy at the Canadian Public Health Association who sits on the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes. [click to continue…]

Public Health on Wednesday

Conferences, Media releases, World Congress on Public Health
  • congressSyria, chemical weapons, and industrial chemicals
  • Self-driving cars will save lives
  • Best of times, worst of times for Australian adolescents
  • Obesity and climate—two linked global crises we’ve created
  • Multi-nationals and mozzies—both great at spreading diseases
  • Big bad companies blocking life-saving public health policies

More at www.wcph2017.com/media.php and @wcph2017 on Twitter.
Contact Niall on 0417-131-977, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or Tanya on 0404-083-863 for interviews

The World Congress on Public Health is on from 3 to 7 April at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Researchers at the World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne available for interview Wednesday, 5 April including

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RACP: Australians concerned about the health impact of extremely hot weather

Conferences, Media releases, World Congress on Public Health

Media Release: Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP)

April 5 2017

RACP2016_CMYK_withtag_OL

New research* from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has revealed more than two thirds of Australians (68 per cent) are concerned about the rise in extremely hot weather and the impact it will have on health and wellbeing.

The topic of climate change and health will feature prominently at the World Congress on Public Health this week, with more than 2,000 health professionals descending on Melbourne for the World Federation of Public Health Associations event.

RACP Faculty of Public Health Medicine President-elect Associate Professor Linda Selvey, who will share the RACP research during her session this afternoon, said it was pleasing that the majority of Australians are united in viewing climate change as a significant health issue. [click to continue…]

Tobacco: Australian achievement, Global challenge

Conferences, Media releases, World Congress on Public Health
  • congress6 trillion sticks sold per annum
  • Killing half its users – over five million people a year
  • Australia, UK, and Canada are winning the fight – we’re smoking less and pension funds are pulling their money
  • Tobacco’s new ruthless tactics for blocking health policy
  • Multinational companies, like mosquitoes, are vectors of disease
  • What’s happening for the 800 million smokers in developing countries?

Researchers at the World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne available for interview.

Plus, Mike Daube, the man behind Australia’s plain packaging laws receives the highest honour from the World Federation of Public Health Associations—the Hugh Leavell Award for Outstanding Global Health Leadership.

Contact Niall on 0417-131-977, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or Tanya on 0404-083-863 for interviews

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