US defence to work with Australian science, fighting ancient killer in Vietnam, how do kids brains cope with disaster?

Bulletins, Media bulletins

Healthy human brain shown via medical imaging Credit: Matthew Purdy
The US spends $80 billion on defence research but still thinks they can learn from our nanotechnologists. They’re meeting with Australian nano-leaders this week in DC.

More on that below, and also:

Can Australian researchers help maintain the technological superiority of the US Air Force?

In Washington DC, the Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley opened a four day workshop with more than 60 US defence researchers and 33 Australian nanotechnology scientists.

The meeting, organised by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF), will explore opportunities for collaboration in nanotechnology and nanomanufacturing.

Rosie Hicks, CEO of the Facility, is in Washington for the workshop and she’s available for interviews until 1 pm Melbourne time daily.

Scientists from CSIRO and Australian universities will meet with researchers from the US Air Force, Navy and Army; NASA; the National Institutes of Health; and the Departments of Defence and State.

At first sight, it seems like a David and Goliath meeting. The US government invests US$80 billion in defence research, more than eight times the size of the Australian government’s total investment in science and innovation (AU$9 billion in 2010/11).

But this is the bleeding edge of science, and new ideas can come from anywhere.

It’s the Australian government’s investment of $1.8 billion in research infrastructure since 2001 that has brought the researchers together and, in particular, a $91 million investment in the ANFF.

The Facility, with hubs in NSW, Vic, Qld, SA and WA, gives researchers access to the tools to make their inventions. And they’ve been drawn like flies. Nineteen universities and CSIRO are partners in the Facility. Some of the inventions that the Facility has already contributed to are:

  • The invention at UNSW of an enabling component for a silicon-based quantum computer – a device that reads the spin state of a single electron. Now they’re making the writer. Put the two together and they’ll have the beginnings of a processor
  • Flu virus sensors that have the potential to detect infections in minutes rather than hours and could screen people at airports and medical clinics – developed at the University of Adelaide
  • A skin patch that delivers vaccines without a needle, developed at the University of Queensland.

Contact: Rosie Hicks, Rosie is in DC from Sunday but is available for interviews until 1 pm Melbourne time daily.

Full press release at:

Background information at:

Vietnam and Australia fighting TB together

Australian and Vietnamese medical researchers are meeting in Sydney this week to plan their next move against tuberculosis (TB), a disease that once was Australia’s top killer and in Vietnam still kills 54,000 people each year.

The researchers are coming together in Australia to share their progress and build stronger ties in fighting a disease which still threatens Australia through its presence in neighbouring countries.

The Centenary Institute’s Dr Greg Fox, who lives, works and drives two major research projects in Vietnam, is available for interview.

And the head of the Vietnamese delegation, Vietnam’s National Tuberculosis Program deputy head Dr Nguyen Viet Nhung, is also available.

They can speak about the impact Australian-supported research is having on TB.

We still don’t know why only one in ten of the two billion people carrying the Mycobacteria tuberculosis bacterium become sick with TB. But the disease kills more than a million people worldwide every year – or about three every minute.

By meeting, sharing research and planning with their Australian counterparts, Vietnam’s National Tuberculosis Program deputy head Nguyen Viet Nhung and his delegation are helping to defeat this scourge in Vietnam, where 290,000 people are living with TB.

While they are here, Dr Nhung and his colleagues will present their work—including surveys of disease rates—spend a day each at the Centenary Institute and Woolcock Institute in Sydney and set an agenda for their research over the next three to five years.

“Vietnam has some of the highest rates of TB in Asia and Australia can play a role in combating TB there as we have already done in our own country,” says Centenary Institute researcher Dr Greg Fox.

“TB is a disease that affects both Australia and Vietnam and we have a lot to learn from collaboration.”

Contact: Dr Greg Fox,

Full press release at:

More information on the Centenary Institute at: 

How do kids brains cope with disaster, disease and disability?

The world’s paediatricians, including researchers from across Asia, will meet in Brisbane later this month for a conference on child neurology.

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.

Contact: Kate Riney,

More details at the conference website: