In today’s bulletin:
- Can vets help fight domestic violence by identifying pet abuse?
- Stem cell medicine – the hype and the reality – national tour
- Celebrating Melbourne’s unsung science achievements
- What’s on in National Science Week
- Who’ll take home a prize at this year’s ‘Oscars of Australian science’?
- And on Thursday – Buddhist prayer bowls make solar cells more efficient (email me for more info)
Animals can’t talk but University of Sydney vet Dr Lydia Tong has shown vets how to tell the difference between bone fractures caused by accidents and those caused by abuse.
Her fracture identification methods are giving vets the added confidence to identify cases of violence against pets and could serve as a warning of domestic violence.
When will stem cell medicine deliver on its promise for cancer, neurological diseases and tissue regeneration?
The ultimate husband-and-wife team and two of America’s top stem cell scientists, Irving Weissman and Ann Tsukamoto, will address these topics and more in a series of public lectures supported by the National Stem Cell Foundation.
In the next two weeks they’ll be in Sydney (25 August), Brisbane (26 August), Adelaide (28 August) and Melbourne (1 September) and available for media.
Plus it’s National Science Week, until Sunday 24 August, with a vast range of activities from citizen science projects like the Weather Detective, to the Mythbusters tour and knitted neurones.
If you’d like any more info on any #natsciweek speakers or events, get in touch.
Personally I will be MCing an event for Melbourne Conversations this Wednesday with some unsung science achievements and stories that make Melbourne cool.
And more about all the week’s events on Twitter #natsciweek or at: http://www.scienceweek.net.au
Then for the diary, the winners of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes will be announced on 10 September.
The winners won’t be announced until the night, but get in touch if you’re keen to interview any of them.
You can review this year’s finalists at: http://australianmuseum.net.au/2014-Finalists-Eureka
Public forums: Stem cells-the potential, the reality and the dangers
The National Stem Cell Foundation presents free public forums in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne
When will stem cell medicine deliver on its promise for challenges like cancer, neurological diseases and tissue regeneration? What’s holding us back after the years of hype? Why is it a bad idea to pursue unproven stem cell treatments?
These questions will be explored in a series of free public forums, featuring two of America’s top stem cell scientists, Professor Irv Weissman and Dr Ann Tsukamoto, who are also husband and wife. Local experts in each city will join them on stage, with opportunities for questions from the audience.
Professor Weissman discovered human blood-forming (‘haemopoietic’) stem cells and has a long history of research into normal and cancer stem cells. Dr Tsukamoto is a leader in the commercial development of stem cell medicine. She will talk about neural stem cell research and current clinical trials.
Locations and dates:
SYDNEY: 6 pm Monday 25 August, Masonic Centre, 66 Goulburn Street, Sydney
BRISBANE: 6 pm Tuesday 26 August, Queensland Irish Club, 175 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane
ADELAIDE: 6 pm Thursday 28 August, SAHMRI Building, North Terrace, Adelaide
MELBOURNE: 6 pm Monday 1 September, Melbourne City Conference Centre, 333 Swanston St, Melbourne
Free, but register online via Eventbrite
More information about the speakers and the tour on the National Stem Cell Foundation’s website
Can vets help fight domestic violence by identifying pet abuse?
Animals can’t talk but University of Sydney vet Dr Lydia Tong has shown vets how to tell the difference between bone fractures caused by accidents and those caused by abuse. Her fracture identification methods are giving vets the added confidence to identify cases of violence against pets and could serve as a warning of domestic violence.
Now, in a new study with Domestic Violence NSW, Lydia is looking deeper into the connections between animal abuse and domestic violence to assess the need for better services to protect both human and animal victims.
“Around 70% of women escaping violent homes also report pet abuse,” says Lydia. “So vets are often the first to see evidence of abuse in a family, when they treat injured pets.”
“Different forces on bones can tell a story-the skeleton of an animal keeps a distinct record that indicates the force applied to bones from past injuries, breaks or fractures. But it can often be difficult for vets to say with confidence whether a fracture has resulted from abuse or accident.”
To give vets this confidence, in a 2014 study, Lydia collected cases of abused dogs who were punched, hit with a blunt weapon or kicked, and examined the fractures from these injuries. She then compared these fractures to those caused by genuine accidents. Her results, published in The Veterinary Journal, identified five key features of fractures that vets could look for to distinguish accidents from abuse.
Now, having given vets this reference to diagnose abuse, Lydia and her colleagues at The University of Sydney are gathering more information on the connections between domestic violence and animal abuse.
“We already know that many women will delay seeking shelter if their pets are threatened or can’t be housed along with them,” explains Lydia.
“US studies also tell us that domestic violence perpetrators who also abuse pets are more dangerous-they have increased rates of physical and sexual violence and stalking, and are more likely to kill their partner.
“We need to know more about the relationship between animal and human abuse in Australia so that we can recognise abuse earlier, save lives, and provide appropriate services for victims and their pets.”
Lydia and her colleagues at the University of Sydney are working with Domestic Violence NSW to survey victims of domestic violence who are also pet owners.
“Perpetrators of violence will often threaten to abuse or harm family pets as a way to exert control” says Moo Baulch, CEO of Domestic Violence NSW.
“This research is essential because we need to have a much clearer picture of the connections between domestic and family violence and the abuse of animals.
“Building a solid evidence base in this area will assist policymakers, domestic and family violence services and people working with animals to better respond to the needs of women and children with pets who are experiencing violence and are afraid to leave.”
Lydia and her team are keen to hear from other domestic violence support agencies, services or refuges that would be willing to be involved with this study.
Lydia was a 2014 national finalist of FameLab Australia. FameLab is a global science communication competition for early-career scientists.
- Dr Lydia Tong, The University of Sydney, +61 425 166 516, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Verity Leatherdale, The University of Sydney Media, +61 403 067 342, email@example.com
- Niall Byrne, Science in Public, +61 417 131 977, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Errol Hunt, Science in Public, +61 423 139 210, email@example.com
Science Makes Melbourne Cool
6 pm Wednesday 20 August, at the Melbourne Convention Centre
Discoveries from the gun decoy missile to the black box, self-sharpening knives and even Kiwi shoe polish have come
out of Melbourne . But what will be next?
To hear what cool science is happening in Melbourne right now, how scientists are solving problems, the science behind discoveries plus breaking news on the latest achievements and innovations.
Join a conversation with:
- Krystal Evans – CEO BioMelbourne, Melbourne
- Christopher Fluke – Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology
- Cathy Foley – Deputy Director Manufacturing Flagship, CSIRO and Engineering and Club Melbourne Ambassador
- Bridie Smith – Science Editor, The Age, Melbourne
- Alan Trounson – Monash University and Club Melbourne Ambassador
This event is a part of National Science Week. There’s more about all the week’s events on Twitter #natsciweek or at: http://www.scienceweek.net.au
Get in touch if you’d like any more info on any National Science Week speakers or events.