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Can calculus cure cancer?

The value of using mathematics in a medical context
Oxford professor and mathematician Helen Byrne will highlight the exciting applications of maths to model, predict and ultimately improve the effectiveness and development of cancer treatments.

Event details
Date and time:
 Tuesday 12 November, 6 – 7.30pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre 200, Social Sciences Building
The University of Sydney (Camperdown/Darlington Campus)
Entry: free and open to all with online registrations essential

Cancer is a complex disease. While research by clinicians and experimental biologists has dramatically improved outcomes for patients, treatment of cancer's many forms still requires immense work. This work is one of Australia's health imperatives, particularly when we consider that almost 46,000 Australians died from cancer in 2016, according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare statistics.

In her talk, Professor Helen Byrne will explain how mathematical models are being used to understand how tumours grow and to predict how they will respond to treatments involving, for example, novel combinations of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

She will also outline how mathematical and computational modelling is helping to accelerate the development of new treatments such as immunotherapy and virotherapy.

Professor Jennifer Byrne, who heads up the Children’s Cancer Research Unit at Westmead, will join Helen in a conversation to explore how maths and medicine can come together to improve research and outcomes. 

This event is co-presented with the University of Sydney Mathematical Research Institute.

The speakers

Helen is a Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on the development and analysis of mathematical and computational models that describe biomedical systems, with particular application to the growth and treatment of solid tumours, wound healing and tissue engineering.

Her aims in studying such models are two fold: to identify the mechanisms responsible for observed biomedical phenomena and to pinpoint novel features that merit theoretical investigation from the resulting mathematical models.

She is an international representative on the Advisory Board of the University of Sydney Mathematical Research Institute.

Jennifer has spent her scientific career analysing childhood and adult cancers at a molecular level. Her PhD studies mapped loss of chromosome 11p15 loci in embryonal tumours, and she then identified a novel gene family during postdoctoral studies in France.

She is Head of the Children’s Cancer Research Unit in the Kids Research Institute at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and Professor of Molecular Oncology in the Discipline of Child and Adolescent Health, Sydney Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health. She is also the Deputy Director of the Kids Cancer Alliance, a Translational Cancer Research Centre funded by Cancer Institute NSW.

Event information

This event is free and open to all but online registration is essential.

Entry to ticket holders will be prioritised and given on a first-in, best-dressed basis until the room reaches capacity. If an event is full, this may result in standing room or delayed admittance until an appropriate time.

We recommend early arrival to allow time for finding the venue and securing a seat to the event. Doors open 15 minutes before the advertised start time. 

If you could not register but would like to attend, you are welcome to join a stand-by queue on the night as seats may become available due to late cancellations. Please note, this is not guaranteed so you come at risk of non-admittance.

This venue provides wheelchair access, hearing loop and infrared hearing system.

Access requirements

If you have other access requirements or want more information, get in touch with us on 9351 2943 or email with 'Access | Nov 12 – Calculus' in the subject line at the earliest opportunity to allow us time to organise for any additional services in time for the event.

This event takes place at SSB Lecture Theatre 200, which is on Level 2 of the Social Sciences Building (enter via Science Road). 

There will be directional signage on the day leading to the theatre. You may also refer to the map on this page. 

Public Transport

To help you plan your trip, visit


Buses to the University are readily available from Railway Square, Central Station (Broadway). Please use the campus maps tool and tick the ‘State transit bus stops’ box under the ‘Amenities’ column to view all possible bus stops.

  • via Parramatta Road: Take one of these buses: 412, 436, 438, 439, 440, 461, 480, 483, m10, L38 or L39 and alight at the Footbridge on Parramatta Road. It's roughly a five-minute walk to the venue.
  • via City Road: Take one of these buses: 352, 370, 422, 423, 426, 428, m30, L23 or L28 and alight at the footbridge before Butlin Avenue. Cross the road or go across the bridge and take Eastern Avenue towards the Quadrangle, and turn into Science Road. It's roughly a 12-minute walk to the venue.

The venue is roughly 30 minutes walk from Redfern Station. Catch a train to Redfern Station and take Lawson Street up to Abercrombie Street. At the roundabout, follow Codrington Street up to Butlin Avenue. Follow Butlin Avenue through to the campus and up Eastern Avenue towards the Quadrangle and turn into Science Road. Keep walking along there – the venue will be on the right.

There is some on-street parking around Forest Lodge and Glebe.

There is also paid parking available at Western Avenue Carpark. Head to the University's Parking page for more information about fees and opening hours.

Use the University Campus Maps tool to find out more details about parking and access areas: search for the 'Social Sciences Building'. 

Event image: Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash

Getting there

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