Forever young with science; how kids’ brains cope; and SKA speculation.

Bulletins, Media bulletins

For the diary: Forever young — growing old gracefully with science

Professor Dame Linda Partridge imagines a future in which we all stay young by taking a pill that reduces the impact of ageing.

She’s not promising immortality, rather she’s working toward a future in which we age gracefully – healthy, happy and active until the end.

She predicts that within a decade, there will be drugs which could keep us healthy in body and mind long into our old age.

Starting in our 40s, we could take medicines to prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and heart disease; to preserve our vital organs; and even to keep our hair full and shiny.

These are claims we’ve heard before, but Dame Linda is the real deal— she’ll be spending a fair portion of her time in the country with Melbourne’s genetics research community.

Dame Linda will be available for interview from Sunday 15 July until Wednesday 18 July. To arrange interviews, contact me on 0417 131 977 or email

Or you can reach Luan Ismahil, Convenor of the ICT for Life Sciences Forum, 0448 726 698,

She’s in Australia to give the Graeme Clark Oration, a free public lecture established to honour Professor Graeme Clark, inventor of the bionic ear.

Past speakers include: Craig Venter of human genome fame; Terry Sejnowski, a computational neuroscience pioneer; and Graeme Clark himself.

Next week: How do kids’ brains cope with disaster, disease and disability?

A meeting of the world’s paediatricians, including researchers from across Asia, starts this will run in Brisbane from Sunday 27 May to 1 June. We’re not actually involved with this conference, but we think there are interesting things going on.

Here’s a taste of some of the topics they’ll be discussing

  • Documenting the effects of natural disasters on children’s brains: radiation hazards in Fukushima and Chernobyl; and post-traumatic stress after earthquakes in Taiwan and floods in Bangladesh.
  • Understanding how infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and encephalitis can affect the developing central nervous system of a child
  • Preventing and screening for brain disorders like epilepsy, autism and cerebral palsy, and figuring out how handle these conditions in young babies to set kids up for a long and happy life.
  • Treating traumatic brain injury in unborn and very young babies in Australia and developing nations, and understanding the long-term consequences.
  • Recognising the signs of stroke in children, and adapting adult treatments to treat and rehabilitate children who’ve had a stroke.
  • Learning what the development of babies’ brains can teach us about degenerative diseases in adults – like Parkinson’s Disease

The Joint 12th International Child Neurology Congress and 11th Asian and Oceanian Congress of Child Neurology will run from May 27 to June 1 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

More details at the conference website:

Media Contacts

For any media queries for the conference, contact Kate Riney directly on +61 (401) 284 635 or email her at

Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – could there be a decision by Saturday?

The SKA board, made up of representatives from Canada, China, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, is meeting in the UK on Saturday morning, Australian time.

High on their agenda will be the site for the SKA — which is destined to be the largest and most sensitive telescope ever built.

Their options are: a joint Australia/NZ bid; a coalition of African nations led by South Africa; or a shared arrangement.

We’re not sure that they’re going to announce a decision.

But if they do, we’ll have two experts ready to comment on behalf of the Australian Institute of Physics:

  • Warrick Couch, who is a board member of the Australian Institute of Physics and director of the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University;
  • Marc Duldig, who is President of the Australian Institute of Physics and an astrophysicist.

They are not available for speculative interviews, only to comment on a decision—win, lose or share.

We wouldn’t expect to hear anything until Saturday morning at the earliest.

For background on the SKA and Australian astronomy you can read more in our magazine— Stories of Australian Astronomy 2012:

Feel free to share this bulletin with anyone who may be interested. And between bulletins, you can follow me on Twitter (@scienceinpublic) for science news, events and interesting visitors.