21st Century Medicine Lecture Series 2017

Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Healthcare

Co-presented by Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney



Tuesday 21 November - The Transformational Impact of Genomics on Medicine and the Healthcare System

Speaker: Professor John Mattick, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Health is the biggest, most important and fastest growing industry in the world. All human characteristics, including susceptibility to diseases, are profoundly influenced by our genetic inheritance, although until recently it has been nigh on impossible to take genetic information into account in healthcare. This has all changed – over the past two decades the fastest technological advance in history has reduced the cost of human genome sequencing dramatically to a few thousand dollars, with further reductions to come – ushering in a new era of personalised medicine and ‘precision’ healthcare.

Soon individual genome sequences will be a standard part of health records, which will revolutionise biomedical discovery, personal healthcare, and health system management. Millions of genome sequences integrated with millions of clinical records and other information from personal devices and the internet of things will create a multi-dimensional data ecology that will require advanced systems not only to secure the privacy and provenance of the data, but also to enable its analysis by machine learning and artificial intelligence. The last of the great cottage industries will become the most important of the data-intensive industries of the 21st century.

About the speaker:

Professor John Mattick is Executive Director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. He has made several seminal contributions to molecular biology. Over the past 20 years he has pioneered a new view of the genetic programming of humans and other complex organisms, by showing that the majority of the genome, previously considered ‘junk’, actually specifies a dynamic network of regulatory RNAs that guide differentiation and development. He has published over 250 research articles and his work has received coverage in Nature, Science, Scientific American, New Scientist and the New York Times, among others.

Prior to taking up the position of Executive Director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in 2012, he was the Foundation Professor of Molecular Biology, and Foundation Director, ARC Federation Fellow and then NHMRC Australia Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience. He the Foundation Director of the Australian Genome Research Facility, the ARC Special Research Centre for Molecular & Cellular Biology and the ARC Special Research Centre for Functional & Applied Genomics. He also spent sabbatical periods at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Cologne and Strasbourg. More information


Wednesday 31 May - What's Wrong with our Kidneys?

Speaker: Professor Steve Chadban, Professor of Medicine, Kidney Hub-CPC, University of Sydney and Director of Renal Medicine, State-wide Renal Services, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney

What’s wrong with our kidneys? And what we are doing about it at the University of Sydney.

Professor Steve Chadban will review the state of the nation in terms of kidney health and discuss the spectrum of kidney disease in the Australian population. He will then turn to the lab to explore potential solutions for key problems in kidney health.

From the lab he will next move to the clinic to examine the impact of specific interventions for people with kidney disease. Finally he will return to the population level to observe the impact of treatments for kidney disease on outcomes. This cycle of research, from population to lab to clinic and back, will be illustrated using specific examples of research conducted across the University of Sydney and at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

About the speaker:

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Professor Steve Chadban received the University Medal for Medicine at the University of Newcastle, completed physician training in Newcastle, Nephrology training and a PhD at Monash, Victoria, Australia. Following his PhD, Chadban took a post-doctoral position studying immunology at the University of Cambridge, UK. He returned to Monash University to run the Transplantation Program from 1999–2002 before moving to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia, where he is Area Director of Renal Medicine, Senior Staff Nephrologist, Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) and Leader of the Kidney Node, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney.

Professor Chadban is President of the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand and Councillor of The Transplantation Society (Oceania Rep), Executive Member of ANZDATA and a Lead Investigator in the AusDiab Kidney Study. Chadban advises Government as Chair of the TLRG(OTA) and National Vascular Diseases Advisory Group/CKD(AIHW).


Wednesday 3 May - Bad Bugs and Bad Drugs: antimicrobial resistance in Southeast Asia

Speaker: Professor Guy Thwaites, Professor of Infectious Diseases, Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Viet Nam

Over the last 80 years drugs that kill bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites – or ‘antimicrobials’ - have caused unparalleled improvements in human health. Around fifty years ago, it seemed as though antimicrobial drugs would lead to a world free from infectious diseases. In 1967 the Surgeon General of the United States of America famously quipped that, “The time has come to close the book on infectious diseases. We have basically wiped out infection in the United States.”

The reasons why this statement has been proven wrong are numerous and complex. The emergence of novel infectious diseases, like HIV, provides one explanation; but we have also squandered many of our key weapons in the battle against infections and antimicrobial drugs, in particular. Infectious diseases, from tuberculosis to malaria, and more recently HIV, have evolved genetically determined mechanisms that allow them to resist killing by antimicrobial drugs. This is called antimicrobial resistance, or ‘AMR’.

In large measure, the creation and spread of AMR infectious diseases has been caused and accelerated by the misuse of antimicrobials. Controlling the spread and consequences of AMR infections is now one of greatest challenges to global health.

About the speaker:

Professor Guy Thwaites

Professor Guy Thwaites is an academic infectious diseases physician and clinical microbiologist. He has been Director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit/Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programme in Vietnam since October 2013. He is responsible for the scientific strategy of the programme, with its major research themes of emerging viral infections, dengue, brain infections, tuberculosis, malaria, enteric infections, antimicrobial drug resistance and care of the critically ill. His personal research interests focus on severe bacterial infections, including meningitis and Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infection, and tuberculosis. Professor Thwaites was a 2016 Distinguished Visiting Scholar Grant recipient as awarded by the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre.