21st Century Medicine: today's research, tomorrow's healthcare

22 August 2013

Are we facing a superbug apocalypse? That's the worst fear of Professors Jon Iredell and Tom Gottlieb.

Heart disease is the world's biggest killer. Professor David Celermajer has seen early signs in children and thinks we can prevent it in adults.

Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer. Professor Graham Mann knows genetic research can give us successful treatments.

What if we could look into a teenager's mind for warning signs of adult depression? Professor Gin Mahli has been mind reading.


The evidence and answers to these topics will be provided in the University of Sydney's 21st Century Medicine Series running from September to November. The public talks, which showcase the work of leading researchers at the Sydney Medical School, start on Wednesday, September 25.

"Launched last year, this flagship series of lectures is a chance for the public to learn about the latest developments across the range of medical research," Professor Bruce Robinson, Sydney Medical School Dean said. "Our researchers are doing extraordinary work and many are at the top of their field internationally. The beauty of these talks is that they are targeted for an interested audience without specialised medical knowledge.

"Here is an opportunity for everyone to get up-to-speed on some of the most exciting things happening in health," Professor Robinson said.

Not all of the medical advances covered are high tech. Professor Chris Maher will be talking about the best treatment for back pain - a condition likely to affect up to 80 per cent of us at some stage in our lives - and it turns out that best-practice calls for much simpler intervention than we are getting.

Professor Stewart Dunn will tell us how to get the best from our doctors through talking: how to give the right information and ask the right questions.

The first lecture of the series looks at why diets (usually) fail. The good news is that it's not your fault. Associate Professor Amanda Salis will talk about the 'famine reaction' which increases appetite and reduces metabolism in the face of calorie restriction. She's got some clever ideas about how to trick the body and avoid the reaction which include taking brief holidays from dieting.

"The inaugural 21st Century Medicine series was so popular that, instead of holding all the talks on campus, this year we've decided to take some of them into the CBD making them more accessible," Professor Bruce Robinson said.

"We're hoping that, at the end of the work day, people might like to be inspired by some of our most engaging minds."

Lecture Series 2013

What: Why diets (usually) fail

When: 6 to 7.30pm, 25 September

Who: Associate Professor Amanda Salis, NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, the University of Sydney's Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders.

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus 

What: Back pain - time to get it right?

When: 6 to 7.30pm, 2 October

Who: Professor Chris Maher, Director, Musculoskeletal Division, The George Institute for Global Health, Professor, Sydney Medical School

Where: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sydney Room, Level 10, 201 Sussex Street, Sydney

What: Beating melanoma - targeting genes

When: 6 to 7.30pm, 9 October

Who: Professor Graham Mann, Co-Director of the Melanoma Institute Australia and Westmead Millennium Institute, Associate Dean, Research, Sydney Medical School

Dr Georgina Long, Clinical Researcher and Medical Oncologist at the Melanoma Institute of Australia, Fellow Cancer Institute NSW and Clinical Researcher, Sydney Medical School

Where: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sydney Room, Level 10, 201 Sussex Street, Sydney

What: Preventing the superbug apocalypse

When: 6 to 7.30pm, 16 October

Who: Professor Jon Iredell, Director of Infectious Diseases, Westmead Hospital and Professor Sydney Medical School.

Associate Professor Tom Gottlieb, Senior Staff Specialist, Concord Hospital and Clinical Associate Professor, Sydney Medical School

Where: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sydney Room, Level 10, 201 Sussex Street, Sydney

What: Early detection of heart disease in the young and preventing it in adults

When: 6 to 7.30pm, 30 October

Who: Professor David Celermajer, Scandrett Professor of Cardiology, Sydney Medical School, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Children's Hospital at Westmead, and Clinical Director Heart Research Institute

Where: Great Hall, the Quadrangle, Camperdown Campus 

What: Mapping Teenage Minds

When: 6 to 7.30pm, 13 November

Who: Professor Gin Malhi, Head of Psychiatry, Royal North Shore Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry Sydney Medical School.

Where: The University of Sydney Business School, Stockland Building, Level 17 / 133 Castlereagh Street

What: Talking with doctors - a view from the other side

When: 6 to 7.30pm, 20 November

Who: Professor Stewart Dunn, Professor of Psychological Medicine at Royal North Shore Hospital and Sydney Medical School

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus 

For more visit the 21 Century Medicine lecture series webpage or email

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Media enquiries: Tina Burge, 0422 915 112,