Embargo: 10.30 am Monday 18 February
Melbourne researchers are turning skin cells into eye cells to help them understand an incurable form of blindness that affects one in seven older Australians.
Hear more on Monday at the launch of the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia, a new charity that is supporting stem cell research, and informing the community of the potential opportunities, and the present dangers of stem cell medicine.
Meet Dr Kathryn Davidson, a young American stem cell researcher who’s coming to work at the Centre for Eye Research Australia.
Meet a patient the research could help and see the world through her eyes.
Also in this bulletin:
- Global health, economic growth and the end of absolute poverty – Geoff Lamb, director of policy and advocacy for the Gates Foundation, giving the Graeme Clark Oration in April
- The killer on our doorstep – World TB Day, 24 March – Aussies in PNG, China, Vietnam and Bhutan
- Bringing science to pubs from Hobart to Broome
- Met an inspiring scientist, young or old? Encourage them to nominate for science prizes
- Writing about nature and place – the 2013 Nature Conservancy Prize
Monday: From skin cells to eye cells – media call and launch
Embargoed until 10.30am Monday 18 February
Melbourne researchers are turning skin cells into eye cells to help them understand an incurable form of blindness that affects one in seven older Australians: age-related macular degeneration.
The initiative will be announced on Monday at the launch of the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia, a new charity that is supporting stem cell research, and informing the community of the potential opportunities and the present dangers of stem cell medicine.
The Foundation’s first investment has brought Dr Kathryn Davidson, a young American stem cell guru, back to Melbourne and the Centre for Eye Research Australia. She hopes to help solve the mystery of what causes age-related macular degeneration, a common, incurable and poorly understood cause of blindness that costs the Australian economy $5.15 billion per year.
Also at the launch:
- Family therapist and patient advocate Michelle Kornberg
- Stem Cell Foundation Chairman Dr Graeme Blackman.
The launch is in the Ringland Anderson Seminar Room at the Centre for Eye Research Australia at 10.30am next Monday 18 February.
CERA is at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
Level 1, 32 Gisborne Street
We have background information and high res photos available on embargo at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/stemcells. Email me for the password.
For interviews, please contact:
Niall Byrne, 0417 131-977, email@example.com
Georgina Howden Chitty, 0419 391 057, firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Woodhams, 0408 370 959 email@example.com
The end of absolute poverty – Gates Foundation leader vising Australia
Geoffrey Lamb, Gates Foundation President of Global Policy and Advocacy will give the 2013 Graeme Clark Oration on Monday 29 April in Melbourne.
He will have some time for a small number of high impact interviews while he’s here.
If you’ll be in Melbourne, you’re also invited to the Oration at the Melbourne Convention Centre at 5.30pm on 29 April. Let me know if you’re planning to come along.
In his Oration, Geoff will review the extraordinary successes of the past half century in reducing mortality and disease. He will show how investments in health have been critical for economic growth and the reduction of global poverty – and have helped bring the goal of an end to absolute global poverty within generational sight.
“In retrospect the huge basic health advances of recent decades may have been the easy part,” Geoff says.
“What needs to be done to ensure the next transformation in global health, and make the end of absolute poverty attainable?”
Geoff leads the foundation’s international policy and advocacy team, and its engagement with governments and international institutions.
He has also worked with the World Bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the International Aids Vaccine Initiative since 2000, and served as chairman of the international negotiations for the replenishment of the African Development Bank’s concessional arm, the African Development Fund.
The Graeme Clark Oration is a free public lecture established to honour Professor Graeme Clark, inventor of the bionic ear. The Oration celebrates the new possibilities emerging from the convergence of biology, computing and engineering. It is hosted by the ICT for Life Sciences Forum, collaboration between Melbourne’s leading medical research institutes, hospitals and universities to share ideas about the convergence of biology and computer science.
For interviews contact:
Niall Byrne, Science in Public, +61 (417) 131 977, firstname.lastname@example.org
More details about the Graeme Clark Oration: www.graemeclarkoration.org.au
The killer on our doorstep – World TB Day, 24 March
130 years ago tuberculosis (TB) was the leading cause of death in Australia.
Today TB is still a threat as new varieties of the disease take hold which are deadlier and harder to treat.
A crisis is developing in our nearest neighbours – Papua New Guinea has the highest TB burden in the Pacific region with more than 14,500 new cases diagnosed a year.
Australia is well placed to help.
In the leadup to World TB Day on 24 March, we’ll help launch an Australian-led multi-national research effort.
We’ll also have stories about intriguing work being done by Australians in Bhutan, Vietnam and China.
Bringing science to pubs from Hobart to Broome
We filled the Grand Hotel in Newcastle last night, with 100 Novocastrians gathered for a drink and a chat with scientists who work in genetics, fertility and biotechnology.
Science in the Pub gets people thinking about and talking about new technologies in science – for the audience to find out about research in their own city and to tell us what they feel about nanotechnology and biotechnology.
Newcastle was the first in a series. We’re holding events in nine regional centres where local researchers will chat about their work and take questions from the public. And they’re not afraid to talk about the scary stuff, from privacy to stem cell treatments, genetically modified food to nanotechnology.
The next stop will be Hobart on March 7, and then we’ll be heading across the country: stay tuned for details of events in Dubbo, Townsville, Port Lincoln and Darwin.
The program is an initiative of the Australian Government’s Department of Industry and Innovation.
Have you met a great scientist recently? Nudge them to nominate for a prize
Scientists aren’t always great at blowing their own trumpet.
If you’ve met a brilliant scientist recently, help them find fame and fortune by encouraging them to nominate for a prize.
The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science
- Top scientists are eligible for the $300,000 major prize
- Early to mid-career researchers could win one of two $50,000 prizes
- And there are two $50,000 prizes for science teachers at primary and secondary level
Fresh Science – a media boot-camp for early career scientists
- A dozen young researchers will come to Melbourne for four intense days of media training, presenting their work to journos, government, schoolkids and the pub-going public.
- And 60 state finalists will get a little taste of life in the limelight with a day of training and a public event in each state.
The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recognise five of Australia’s best scientists and science teachers. The winners are celebrated at a dinner hosted by the Prime Minster at Parliament House, and share in $500,000 worth of prize money.
They’re looking for:
- An exceptional Australian scientist whose contribution to the nation has not yet been recognised
- Early to mid-career scientists with outstanding research results who are shaping up to become leaders in their field
- Science teachers – at primary and secondary level – who are making an outstanding contribution to science education through the impact of their inspirational teaching within their own schools and the sharing of their methods and results with the science teaching profession
Past winners say that the Prime Minister’s Prizes have been the crowning achievement of their careers.
Find more details, profiles of past winners and nomination forms, at: www.innovation.gov.au/scienceprizes
We are also looking for bright young researchers for Fresh Science.
Fresh Science takes young researchers with little or no media experience and turns them into spokespeople for science.
This year we’ll be training more young scientists than ever before, with state finals across the country in April and May. More than 60 state finalists will get a day of media training and a chance to practice their new skills at a public event in the evening.
Then in July, the 12 best candidates from the state finals will head to Melbourne for the Fresh Science national final – more details on that one closer to the time.
If you know any bright young scientists, encourage them to nominate. It’s easy to nominate online – and past Freshies tell us it’s a whole lot of fun.
And we’d love to see you at our Fresh Science events – have a drink and help us put these young scientists through the wringer!
More details at www.freshscience.org
‘Writing of place’ – the 2013 Nature Conservancy Prize
The Nature Conservancy will announce the winner of their second nature writing prize at the Victorian State Library in March.
The prize will go to a writer who explores his or her relationship and interaction with some aspect of the Australian landscape.
The Nature Conservancy Australia Nature Writing Prize was created to promote and celebrate the art of nature writing in Australia as well as to encourage a greater appreciation of Australia’s magnificent landscapes.
The prize has been made possible thanks to the generous support of The McLean Foundation, which is committed to promoting and celebrating the literature of nature in Australia.
Science in Public
Feel free to pass these stories along to colleagues. And between bulletins, you can follow me on Twitter (@scienceinpublic) for more science news and story tips.