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Posted on behalf of Nadia Rosenthal, Scientific Head, EMBL Australia

Earlier this month I spent time with 60 talented students at our annual EMBL Australia PhD course in Canberra. For me, this course is the highlight of the whole EMBL enterprise. It’s a celebration of enthusiasm, discovery and excitement for the life sciences, and a great way for young scientists to connect with new knowledge and each other. Congratulations to the students and the organisers, and I look forward to keeping in touch with you all in the future.

Not only are we investing in our future science leaders, but also in our science infrastructure. I’m delighted to announce the call for expressions of interest to host our life sciences data resource – the Bioinformatics Resource Australia-EMBL (BRAEMBL). It is a proposed national infrastructure that will strengthen Australia’s exploitation of a global biomolecular data network, and help to keep us integrated and competitive in bioinformatics research, services and training.

I’ve also just returned from Europe, where I was introduced to the UK’s Academy of Medical Sciences. The motto of the Academy is “improving health through research”, which is a central goal of EMBL Australia. I am enormously proud to be included in this year’s newly inducted Fellows, including my friend and colleague Professor Dame Janet Thornton, Director of EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute. Janet will also be helping us shape BRAEMBL in the future.

Back in Australia, we recently helped SAHMRI (the new South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) officially launch the science inside that creativity-inspiring building. The speed at which the institute has begun to develop inside their new home is a testament to the organisational skills and inspirational direction of its leadership. And we’re immensely proud that our EMBL Australia South Australian node is a part of the SAHMRI journey. Read the full article →

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A mixed bag of things this week.

Clunies Ross nominations are open to 29 August for superstars of applied science and technology.

Research Australia’s annual philanthropy conference kicks off in Melbourne on 19 August. Hot topics will include: the fundraising impact of debate on the medical research trust fund; how Cancer UK raised $830 million in a year.

Tomorrow in Melbourne you can meet the Science Editor of The Economist at an informal lunch I’m hosting at the University of Melbourne. Geoff Carr is here for AIDS2014 and has time on his last day in town to chat about science and The Economist.

You can also meet leaders of AIDS2014 at a public forum at the Melbourne Town Hall tomorrow. The panel is Nobel Laureate Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, Salim Karim, Sharon Lewin, Matt Sharp and Leslie Cannold. More at the venue’s website.

A woman in the USA recently had a growth of mucus-producing nasal cells removed from her spine – the result of failed stem cell therapy. It’s a reality-check on where we’re at with stem cell science, but also feeds our imagination about its possibilities. Two stem cell pioneers will be speaking in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne about the potential, the reality, and the dangers of stem cell therapy. They are Irv Weissman, who discovered human blood-forming stem cells, and Ann Tsukamoto, a leader in the commercial development of stem cell medicine.

Also PhD top-up grants in physics, chemistry and biology at the new ARC Imaging Centre of Excellence.

And national tours for the Mythbusters, and astronaut Chris Hadfield. Read the full article →

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Geoff Carr, Science Editor, Economist. Credit: Edge.org

Geoff Carr, Science Editor, Economist. Credit: Edge.org

Join us for a conversation with Geoff Carr, The Economist’s Science Editor, hosted by the University of Melbourne on behalf of the Parkville Precinct Communications Group, at a special viewing of the exhibition TRANSMISSIONS | Archiving HIV/AIDS | Melbourne 1979-2014. The exhibition showcases artworks, manuscripts, and other material from private collections and public archives explores the history of AIDS as seen in Melbourne.

Geoff Carr is in Melbourne for AIDS 2014. We have asked him if he could join us for a conversation about science, science journalism, The Economist, and his impressions from AIDS 2014.

12.30 – 2pm Thursday 24 July 

Light lunch is provided followed by discussion in the George Paton Gallery – Level 2, Student Union Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville Campus

M/C: Niall Byrne, Creative Director, Science in Public

After training as a zoologist, Geoff Carr joined The Economist in 1991 as Science Correspondent. He then became Tokyo Correspondent in 1994 and in 1995 moved to his current job as Science Editor.

When he isn’t editing he has particular interests in evolution, genomics, biotech, AIDS and malaria, and renewable-energy technologies.

This is a free forum aimed at journalists, science communicators and researchers. 

Places are limited, RSVP essential to niall@scienceinpublic.com.au

For more information about the exhibition contact or if you’re lost on the day contact Rebecca Scott | Acting Director Media and PR| University Communications Mobile +61 417 164 791, rebeccas@unimelb.edu.au

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Two stories today:

Dancing bees and a dancing bee researcher

A researcher at The University of Sydney has just released his latest research on honey bee interpretive dance.

He’s got some nice vision of bees dancing, and he can dance too.

James Makinson has been evicting bees from their homes to figure out how they find a new nest site. It’s work that could help with understanding and managing honeybees for pollination services, ecological health, and pest control.

He’ll be at Sydney Uni with bees today. He’s also provided some footage of the bees ‘dancing’ about where to nest, then heading off after coming to agreement.

James does a good ‘waggle dance’ too. He was a national finalist of FameLab Australia -a science communication competition for early-career researchers.

More below

Also: Do you look infected? Should I kill you? No, I’m fine, move along

How viruses use ‘fake’ proteins to hide in our cells: some viruses can hide in our bodies for decades. They make ‘fake’ human proteins that trick our immune cells into thinking ‘everything is awesome’, there’s nothing to see here.

Now researchers at the Imaging Centre of Excellence at Monash and Melbourne Universities have used synchrotron light to determine the basic structure of one of the two known families of these deceptive proteins.

We issued this story on Friday and it will be published in September’s Journal of Biological Chemistry.

More below

 

Read the full article →

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14171849136_6a20a4805e_oWednesday 9 July 2014

Video and photos of bees available
Scientist available for interview

Dr James Makinson evicts bees from their homes for a good reason—to figure out how they collectively decide on the next place to live. His research on bee communication and consensus-building has been published in this month’s issue of Animal Behaviour.

James and his colleagues at the University of Sydney in partnership with two universities in Thailand have found that not all honeybee species think like the common Western hive bee when it comes to deciding on a place to nest.

Two little-known species—the giant Asian honeybee and the tiny red dwarf honeybee—use a more  rapid collective decision-making process that enables them to choose a new home quickly. But they aren’t as fussy when it comes to the quality of their new home.

It’s work that could help with understanding and managing honeybees for pollination services, ecological health, and pest control. Read the full article →

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How viruses use ‘fake’ proteins to hide in our cells

Some viruses can hide in our bodies for decades. They make ‘fake’ human proteins that trick our immune cells into thinking ‘everything is awesome’, there’s nothing to see here.

Now researchers at the Imaging Centre of Excellence at Monash and Melbourne Universities have determined the basic structure of one of the two known families of these deceptive proteins.

Using synchrotron light and working with a common virus that lives in people happily and for the most part harmlessly, they worked out the structure of the fake proteins. This is an important first step towards producing better vaccines and drugs to fight viral disease.

The research was posted online this week by the Journal of Biological Chemistry. It will appear in the September issue of the journal.  Read the full article →

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