Gene editing, superbugs, wine as medicine: a healthy dose of Science Week

Media releases, National Science Week
  • How will apps, mobiles and sensors transform healthcare? Harvard professor in Melbourne
  • Wine as medicine and why vineyards were planted in lunatic asylums, Sydney
  • Hangry? Ask an expert how hunger influences behaviour, Melbourne
  • Technology: good or bad for your mental health? Canberra
  • What’s the latest in cancer research and can we find a cure? Adelaide & Sydney

Dozens of interesting health stories, people and events around Australia for National Science Week this August, including:

  • Gene editing is as simple as cutting and pasting, Adelaide
  • Superbugs: what we need to do to become resistance fighters, Sydney
  • The beauty of killers and cures under the microscope, Melbourne
  • Assessing your own health in a pop-up laboratory, Darwin
  • Recipes to feed yourself and your gut bacteria, Perth
  • Young scientists with healthy advice for senior Australians, Adelaide
  • Talk about your health for the Health Box Stories podcast, Hobart.

More on these highlights below, and others at, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists and event organisers are available for interview throughout Science Week. Read on for contact details for each event, or call:

Tanya Ha: or 0404 083 863
Niall Byrne: or 0417 131 977

More than 2,000 events are registered for National Science Week 2018, which runs until Sunday 19 August. Media kit at, public event listings at

More on the highlights…

Apps, devices and wearable sensors: optimising mobile health interventions—Bundoora, VIC

Harvard University Professor Susan Murphy explores how data collected through mobile apps can transform the way that we tailor and deliver healthcare treatments.

Mobile devices along with wearable sensors allow us to deliver supportive treatments, anytime and anywhere. Mobile interventions are transforming treatments and preventative health management, including support for HIV medication adherence, assisting recovery in addictions and encouraging physical activity and healthy eating.

The question remains: “When and in which contexts, is it most useful to deliver treatments to the user?” Using data, we can determine if key factors such as location, stress, time of day, mood, ambient noise and so on, impact when and where these treatments are most useful. This talk concerns a new clinical trial design: the micro-randomized trial and associated data analytics for use in addressing this question.

The talk will use multiple mobile health studies including the study, HeartSteps – a physical activity mobile intervention, to illustrate the ideas.

Tuesday 14 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Andriy Olenko, or 03 9479 2609

Wine as medicine: an Australian perspective—Sydney, NSW

Why did Australia have so many ‘Wine Doctors’; how has wine used to help transport convicts to Australia; and why were vineyards planted in Australia’s lunatic asylums, and no where else in the world?

Philip Norrie traces the medical history of wine and its unique history in Australia, including where and when the first vineyard was planted in Australia.

Friday 17 August Event details

Media enquiries: Melanie Ryan, or 02 9262 7300

The future of cancer: can we find a cure?—Westmead, NSW

How will cellular therapy, immunotherapy, personalised medicine, and the use of big data impact cancer treatments?

Join internationally-recognised cancer researcher and Children’s Medical Research Institute Director, Professor Roger Reddel, as he leads a panel of experts in a discussion on the most promising strategies in contemporary cancer research and treatment.

Monday 13 August Event details

Media enquiries: Sydney Ideas, or 02 9351 2943

The future of cancer research in Australia—Adelaide, SA

Cancer is a leading cause of death for Australians, however research advances in this area are helping Australians live longer and healthier lives.

Join a panel of world renowned cancer researchers as they talk about revolutionary cancer therapies that are leading to better health outcomes for cancer patients worldwide.

Thursday 16 August Event details

Media enquiries: Angela Ziaei, or 08 8302 7916

The science of us: your mental health—Canberra, ACT

Technology and social media: how is it affecting our mental health and how can it be used as a force for good for those at risk?

The Science of Us series, presented by the Australian Academy of Science at The Shine Dome, will investigate the science of our lives and our health, from the moment of conception through to death, focusing on some of the issues we face during our lives and what science is doing to resolve them.

Professor Mike Kyrios (Flinders University) will speak about how he is using technology to create digitally delivered therapies to people suffering from compulsive behaviours.

Professor Helen Christensen (Black Dog Institute) will discuss the innovative methods being used for detecting mental health risk, such as anxiety and depression, via social media, and the development of novel interventions for mental health treatment.

Tuesday 14 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Dan Wheelahan, or 0435 930 465

What should we do about antimicrobial resistance?—Kogarah, NSW

Antimicrobial resistance is a global health problem, but can the everyday person do anything to help?

Join microbiologist Julia Wong in this talk about how patients, healthcare providers, and the average person can practice antiobiotic stewardship.

Dr Wong will also explore what the future of treating antibiotic resistance might look like, based on current research.

Wednesday 15 August Event details

Media enquiries: Marisa Bottaro, or 02 9330 9579

As simple as cut and paste? The gene editing generation—Adelaide, SA

How much can we do with gene editing? And is it as easy as it sounds?

Developmental genetics researcher Paul Thomas knows all about the genes (and their variations) that can cause intellectual disability, epilepsy and disorders of sexual development. Heather Bray is researching genetically-modified crops and food, and farm animal welfare.

Meet the panel of genomic editing experts, as they speak about gene editing trials in cancer therapies and potential uses in the agriculture industry, facilitated by SAHMRI Chief Science Storyteller Hannah Brown.

By understanding the genetic blueprint that makes every human unique, mixed with the discovery of new tools that can ‘cut and paste’ DNA, the gene editing generation has begun.

Thursday 16 August Event details

Media enquiries: Hannah Brown, or 0402 113 462

Science for seniors—Holdfast Bay, SA

Young scientists have some healthy advice for senior (50+) Australians on a range of healthy ageing topics, including:

  • Tiffany Gill—arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions
  • Melissa Hull— the ‘forget me not’ program
  • John Carragher—functional foods for healthy ageing
  • Sarah Bray & Stephanie Harrison—using big data to help south australians age well
  • Matilda Handsley-Davis—the bugs in our mouths: oral microbes and oral health
  • Rachel Burton—dietary fibre: how much to eat and what foods
  • Jyoti Khadka—isn’t a better qaulity of life what we all are chasing after?

Science for Seniors is a new initiative to provide a series of engaging and interesting seminars on current research on health and ageing for seniors in the local community.

Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Lyn Bermudez, or 0419 337 587

How does hunger influence our behaviour?—Wheelers Hill, VIC

Hunger and the brain: why do we get hangry?

Physiologist Rachel Clarke from Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute explores the science of how the brain responds to hunger and some of the ways this might impact our behaviour.

The drive to eat is essential for survival. Hunger-sensing neurons in our brains control our food intake to ensure we have enough energy for our day-to-day activities. However, these neurons also influence broader behaviours such as anxiety, fear, motivation and learning.

Tuesday 14 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Peter Head, or 03 9561 6211

Art of Science: the beauty of killers and cures up close—Melbourne, VIC

See how blood vessels sprout from a piece of bone grown in the laboratory; watch breast cancer cells as they attempt to run riot in other parts of the body; and be unsettled by a writhing parasite ‘playground’ captured under the microscope with an iPhone.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s annual Art of Science exhibition showcases stunning images and videos captured by Australian medical researchers tackling some of the biggest challenges facing global health.

The experience shines a light on biomedical exploration and discovery traversing the vast and complex research areas of cancer, infectious diseases and immune disorders.

Friday 10 to Sunday 19 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Arunee Wilson, or 0478 714 757

Scientists-turned-photographers are available for interviews.

HealthLAB goes remote: health checks from Darwin to the Gulf of Carpentaria

How good is your health? And how do your lifestyle choices affect the health of your body now, in the future and for the future generations of your family?

HealthLAB is a health education clinic on wheels—offering an interactive science education experience that helps people assess their own health in a ‘pop-up’ laboratory.

HealthLAB will be staffed by a range of scientists and health professionals who will teach participants about the science behind the inner workings of their bodies, ways to reduce their risk of chronic disease, and career pathways in science.

Multiple dates and locations Event details

Media contacts: Melody Song and Paul Dale,

Recipes for a healthy gut: talk and cooking demo—Wannaroo, WA

Eating your vegetables and whole grains is good for your health… and that of the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut, part of your microbiome.

Having a healthy gut microbiome can reduce the chances of developing a variety of diseases, such as obesity, non-alcoholic liver disease and even certain types of cancer. But a healthy diet is important for both you and your gut flora.

Nutrition researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) will present a series of sessions for National Science Week in Wanneroo’s libraries that are part science talk and part cooking class.

These events will present the science of why plant-based foods—rich in fibre and resistant starch—are essential to feed the gut microbiome, and share recipes from ECU’s Gut Feeling cookbook.

Thursday 23 to Thursday 30 August Event details

Media enquiries: David Gear, or 08 6304 2288

ECU nutrition researchers Amanda Devine and Jo Rees available for interviews.