Past 2014 events

Promoting lifestyle physical activity and tackling sedentary behaviour: the need for multidisciplinary approaches

14 November

Over recent years there has been an increasing interest in the health-promoting potential of non-structured incidental physical activity that is part of people’s daily lifestyle. What often appears to be individual lifestyle ‘decisions’ and ‘choices’ is the end result of complex interactions between environmental influences and personal circumstances, the study of everyday physical activity is inextricably multi-disciplinary in nature.

This scientific symposium included presentations around the broad themes of sedentary behaviour as a health risk, public transport and active transport; the use of technology for monitoring and promoting incidental physical activity; the sedentary culture in educational settings; the role of architecture and design in reducing sedentary behaviour.

It was also the launch of a new Charles Perkins Centre project node, Lifestyle Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour, led by Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis.


A consistent approach to analysing nutrition data from the Australian Health Survey

24 July

This full day workshop facilitated discussion around the handling and analysis of the nutrition data from the Australian Health Survey as well as some of the problems that have complicated analyses of large dietary intake datasets in the past. Attendees travelled from all over the country and represented academia, government as well as food industry. The workshop succeeded in raising awareness around specific issues that arise in analysis of dietary intake data from sources such as the Australian Health Survey and created a clear consensus that we must find a mechanism that allow researchers working with this data to move forward to address these issues in a consistent manner. It was suggested that a reference group be formed that could foster appropriate methodological research on use of dietary intake data, help formulate guidance around how to use and represent results from analyses of this data, generate training events or opportunities and keep a registry of current research projects which utilise the Australian Health Survey Australian Data.

The workshop was organised by Associate Professor Tim Gill in conjunction with the Charles Perkins Centre, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ).

The Charles Perkins Centre and CSIRO agreed to help foster such a group and another workshop was planned in conjunction with the Nutrition Society conference in Hobart in November 2014


Business of Health Research Network & Charles Perkins Centre Inaugural Event

4 April

The breakfast launch of the Business of Health Research Network brought together four different sets of stakeholders with an interest in health research. Representatives from companies operating in the health and food areas, non-profit organisations, Government and policy makers and researchers from University of Sydney Business School debated to prioritise research interests at the intersection of Business and health.

Read more about the event.

Systems biology - What's all the fuss about?

1 April | Lunchtime seminar

Metabolic diseases comprise a growing list of diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. These diseases are referred to as complex diseases because they are strongly heritable, yet unlike simple monogenic diseases, they are due to multiple mutations affecting many genes in the genome.

Another major factor in the emergence of these diseases is lifestyle, particularly excess calorie consumption and insufficient physical activity. This, combined with the concept that the genes are too hard to find, has given rise to the notion that we should collectively embark on a population-wide effort to encourage people to simply eat less and exercise more.

During this lecture, Professor David James presented information to show that a single ideal lifestyle for humans does not exist, due to genetic diversity. David presented what he believes to be one of the most challenging and intriguing problems in biology, dissecting the gene x environment interaction.

A case was made that this is a classic systems biology problem requiring a combination of both large scale and focused studies in model systems as well as in humans. This represents one of the major future challenges for the Charles Perkins Centre.

Gut microbiome - from poo to physiology

18 March | Lunchtime seminar with Professor Andrew Holmes, School of Molecular Bioscience

Our health is the product of many different factours and the gut is arguably the most important point of intersection between these. Gut functions occur in the immediate proximity of a huge community of microorganisms, our gut microbiome. The presence and activity of these microbes affects nutrient uptake through breakdown of digestion resistant foods and production of vitamins. They also affect susceptibility to infectious disease through exclusion of potential pathogens, and boosting immune functions. Microbial activity impacts the body's ability to maintain physiologial hemoestatsis via the influence of microbial metabolites on signalling pathways and barrier functions. Microbial activity impacts the body's ability to maintain physiological homeostasis via the influence of microbial metabolites on signalling pathways and barrier functions. From an organismal biology perspective the guit microbiome is distinctive, it can be thought of as an organ of our body, but one that is postnatally acquired and unusually susceptible to environmental factors. Associate Professor Andrew Holmes will present recent findings in microbiome links with dietinducted metabolic disease and in rational engineering of the microbiome as part of diet intervention strategies.

Good food, good health: Delivering the benefits of food security in Australia and beyond

17 March

Food and nutrition security is one of the major challenges facing our global community. Our modern food system i causing worldwide ill health on two front with chronic shortages of nutritious food causing malnutrition on one hand, and excessive consumption leading the chronic obesity on the other. Presenters explored these issues during the day-long forum showcasing the University of Sydney's multidiscplinary and practical response to this complex challenge. Speakers from a range of faculties and interdisciplinary centres, as well as experts from institutes around the world involved in food security, tackled issues ranging from sustainable farming in Australia to aquaculture in Southeast Asia to associated human rights.

Inaugural Tony Basten Oration

19 March | Professor Josef Penninger

The Centenary Institute, in collaboration with the University of Sydney collaborated to present the inaugural Tony Basten Oration. Professor Josef Penninger, Scientific Director of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Science delivered the keynote address - New Genetic Technologies for Disease Modelling and Therapy Development. The event honoured Professor Tony Basten, Executive Director of the Centenary Institute 1989-2005.

Future of Experimental Medicine Conference - Inflamation Disease and Ageing

16-19 March

The Charles Perkins Centre was delighted to sponsor of the Future of Experimental Medicine Conference, organised by the Centenary Institute. It featured national and international speakers presening on their latest work to the most active researcher in the Australasian field. The meeting drew basic and clinical research together to advance the immense research development and technological innocation potential that is evident in the scientific literature.

What can nutritional ecology tell us about human health?

11 March

Professor David Raubenheimer, Veterinary Science

Nutritional ecology is the field of biology that applies ecological and evolutionary theory to the study of animal nutrition. The guiding framework views animal performance (health, reproduction and longevity) as an outcome of the interactions between evolved traits (anatomical, physiological and behavioural) and the ecological environment.

In this talk Professor Raubenheimer will discuss the various ways that the nutritional ecology framework can help to understand human health and disease, using his own work as illustration. He will introduce how an approach called ‘nutritional geometry’, that has been developed using insects and applied to a wide range of animals from fish to baboons, spider monkeys and gorillas, can help to understand the regulation of food intake by humans. He will discuss the thesis developed with collaborators of how human nutritional regulatory mechanisms might interact with salient aspects of the modern environment, including economics and climate change, to drive energy over-consumption and obesity.

Environmental Waist Disposal and Weight Management in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

6 March | Seminar and master class with Prof. Iain Broom, University of Aberdeen, UK

The Charles Perkins Centre, Boden Institute and COMPaRE-PHC hosted a joint event exploring issues around conventional weight management practices and how to mitigate environmental effects to reduce our waist size. Professor Iain Broom, Director of the Centre for Obesity Research and Epidemiology (CORE) at Robert Gordon University and Clinical Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Aberdeen, delivered a one-hour seminar and one hour master class.

Implementation in healthcare workshop

28 February

A day-long seminar with Professor Jeremy Grimshaw from the Centre for Practice-Changing Research at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Canada for those involved in translating evidence into practice in health care.

The event was co-sponsored by Sydney Catalyst Translational Cancer Research Centre and The University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Sydney Nursing School and Sydney Medical School.

Sydney Ideas: Emotion tracking and interventions for memory, health and awareness

11 February

Co-presented by the Software Engineering group, School of Electrical and Information Engineering and the Positive Computing Research node at the Charles Perkins Centre.

A person’s mood can be monitored by technologies such as mobile phones or tablets, wearable sensors providing support for people living with depression or high stress levels says Dr Mary Czerwinski, manager of the Visualization and Interaction (VIBE) Research Group at Microsoft Research in the USA.

Dr Czerwinski visited The University of Sydney to deliver the Sydney Ideas talk Emotion Tracking and Interventions for Memory, Health and Awareness. In her talk, Dr Czerwinski discussed the cutting edge research being conducted by the Microsoft VIBE team that aims to assist people living with depression or stress related health issues.