Million dollar lab to fight TB; Aussie role in global vaccines push; who’s top in science and more

Media bulletins

See a $1.2 million high-containment laboratory opening tomorrow at 11 am in Sydney before they lock it up forever and start work with live TB.

The lab will speed up efforts to understand and fight back against tuberculosis (TB), a bacterium that lives inside two billion people worldwide and kills three people every minute. More below.

Also this week

Tuesday/Wednesday: Fighting TB – a series of stories in the run up to World TB Day, 24 March

A third of the world’s population carries TB. In 2010, 8.8 million people became ill with TB and 1.4 million people died.

  • TB is the number four cause of death among women worldwide.
  • In Australia, TB still infects around 1,000 people each year.

But we’ve had some wins: since 1995, 46 million people have been successfully treated and up to 6.8 million lives have been saved through short-course chemotherapy.

In the lead-up to World TB Day, the Centenary Institute will be promoting the World Health Organisation’s StopTB campaign by:

  • Tuesday 20 Mar 2012: Opening its new high-containment lab (with airlocks and breathing masks).
    Media call 10.30 am, Centenary Institute, Building 93, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney
  • Wednesday 21 March: An Australian scientist is bringing effective screening for TB a step closer with his latest study in Vietnam- where he now lives and works. Dr Greg Fox is good talent and is available for interview in Sydney this week.
  • Also of interest: A Sydney researcher is seeking to improve treatment of TB by tracking resistance to it among thousands of rural Chinese with the help of a $750,000 NHMRC grant.  More:

More information about the Centenary Institute’s campaign at or follow @CentenaryInst on Twitter. We’re assisting with media.

Vaccines to change the world: Wednesday to Friday:

Over the next four years 250 million children will be vaccinated against pneumococcal disease and rotavirus diarrhoea, saving 4 million lives.

Meet Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, and the man behind the campaign in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.

He’s speaking at:

In Melbourne Seth is speaking at a public forum with:

  • Mr Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia
  • Sir Gustav Nossal, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Kate Taylor, Nossal Institute for Global Health

Contact me for more information.

Media opportunities will be limited and are being managed by Mountain Media, Nick Lucchinelli,, 0422 229 032.

Thursday: How does Nature rate your university?

This Thursday 22 March, Nature publishes their Nature Publishing Index 2011 Asia-Pacific. The Index provides a unique insight into the quality and impact of Asia-Pacific science.

  • Which is the most productive university in the Asia Pacific?
  • Will Melbourne regain its 2009 crown as top Australian university or will Sydney hold onto its 2010 leadership position followed by Queensland and Monash.
  • Will James Cook University continue its march up the list?

Find out more on Thursday when all is revealed. We’re happy to brief media on embargo from tomorrow, Tuesday.

We’ve assisted with the editorial for the supplement and have written media releases for the top five countries.

The Index measures the output of research articles from nations and institutes in terms of publications in the 18 Nature-branded primary research journals in 2011.

More at

Next Thursday: Australian epilepsy pioneer will receive US$100,000 L’Oréal award in Paris: 29 March (not 22 March)

Australian paediatric neurologist Professor Ingrid Scheffer is the Asia-Pacific L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate for 2012.

The award was announced last November and she will receive her award at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 29 March 2012. We previously flagged that it would be on 22 March.

Her work has transformed our understanding of epilepsy. Twenty years ago we thought that epilepsy was largely attributed to injuries, tumours – anything but genes. Now, thanks to Professor Scheffer’s body of work we know that genes play a large role. And that’s opened the way to better diagnosis, treatment, counselling, and potential cures.

More on Ingrid at