Global health, economic growth and the end of absolute poverty

ICT for Life Sciences

Hopeful evidence and hard challenges

Introducing the 5th Graeme Clark Orator, speaking Monday 29 April at The Plenary, Melbourne Convention Centre.

Geoffrey Lamb, the Gates Foundation’s President of Global Policy and Advocacy, is the 2013 Graeme Clark Orator.

Geoff Lamb

He 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,” says Geoff Lamb.

“What needs to be done to ensure the next transformation in global health, and make the end of absolute poverty attainable?”

“For example, big investments in routine vaccination and cleaner water may already have delivered up most of their dividends, and meantime we may face a “long contraction” in public finances that will make it much harder to fund future investments.”

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.

“Melbourne researchers have already made large contributions to global health,” says Professor Clark.

“Sir Macfarlane Burnet and his followers revealed fundamental workings of the immune system and inspired Ian Frazer to develop the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil. Ruth Bishop and Ian Holmes discovered rotavirus and showed it was responsible for deadly diarrhoea in infants. Peter Coleman and his colleagues developed the anti-flu drug Relenza.”

“But, as Geoff Lamb will tell us, there is much more to be done to fight infant mortality and reduce poverty.” 

This is the fifth Oration. Past speakers include: Dr Craig Venter, who led the private sector bid in the race to sequence the complete human genome; Professor Dame Linda Partridge, a guru in ageing research; 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, collaboration between Melbourne’s leading medical research institutes, hospitals and universities to share ideas about the convergence of biology and computer science.

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About Geoff Lamb, the 2013 Graeme Clark Orator

Geoffrey Lamb is the Gates Foundation’s President, Global Policy and Advocacy. He leads the foundation’s international policy and advocacy team, and its engagement with governments and international institutions. Lamb was previously Managing Director, Public Policy and a Senior Fellow in the foundation’s Global Development Program.

Before joining the foundation in 2006, Lamb held several senior positions at the World Bank, most recently as vice president of Concessional Finance and Global Partnerships. In that capacity, he chaired a series of international negotiations through which governments provided the largest increase in more than two decades of World Bank funding for the world’s poorest countries, and subsequently agreed on the financial framework to forgive the multilateral debt of 40 countries.

An Irish citizen, Lamb was born in South Africa and educated in South Africa and the United Kingdom, where he was a fellow and deputy director of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. He was a member of the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria from its founding until 2006, and has been a board member of the International Aids Vaccine Initiative since 2000, and its chairman 2003-2008. He has served as chairman of the international negotiations for the replenishment of the African Development Bank’s concessional arm, the African Development Fund, in 2009/10.