Forever young – growing old gracefully with science

Introducing the 4th Graeme Clark Orator, speaking Wednesday 18 July 2012 at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

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 Alzheimers and heart disease; to preserve our vital organs; and even to keep our hair full and shiny.

Dame Linda heads research teams at University College London, and is the founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne.

A geneticist by trade, her work has focused on the genetics of age-related diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimers. Leading Melbourne geneticist Prof Phil Batterham says her work has real world applications.

“Linda has done the hard work in the lab with fruit flies, and what she’s learning is incredibly relevant to human ageing,” says Prof Batterham. “Understanding ageing is the one of the most challenging problems in modern biology,” he says.

“And she also finds time to act as a mentor, especially to young women, and she’s a strong public advocate for science in society.”

Dame Linda will visit Australia in July to deliver the 2012 Graeme Clark Oration, hosted by the ICT for Life Sciences Forum.  The Oration will be chaired by the ABC’s Dr Norman Swan.

In her Oration she will explore the science of ageing, and research from around the world that is helping us understand the genes and mechanisms that contribute to a long healthy lifespan. She will discuss her own work with fruit flies, worms and mice and what that has revealed about diabetes, food restriction, and resistance to stress.

She will also be speaking with Australia’s leading geneticists at the Genetics Society of Australasia conference at the University of Melbourne.

Dame Linda will be available for interview from Sunday 15 July until Wednesday 18 July.

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.

This is the fourth Oration. Past speakers include: Dr Craig Venter, who led the private sector bid in the race to sequence the complete human genome; Professor Terry Sejnowski, a pioneer in computational neuroscience and decoding the brain’s networks; and Professor Graeme Clark himself, who left practice as a doctor to engineer the bionic ear.

The Oration is hosted by the ICT for Life Sciences Forum, a 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,
Luan Ismahil, Convenor of the ICT for Life Sciences Forum,

More details about the Graeme Clark Oration: