Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events
FEB
03

1290th OGM including Open Lecture

Royal Society of NSW 2020 Student Award WinnersRoyal Society of NSW 2020 Student Award Presentations 

Matthew Donnelly, UNSW (Sydney)
Sajad Razavi Bazaz, UTS 
Daniel Fox, ANU 
Philippa Specker, UNSW (Sydney)

 

Date: Wednesday, 3 February 2021, 6.30pm
Venue: Zoom Webinar. Click here for help in getting started with Zoom
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Entry: No charge
All are welcome.

The evening’s program comprises four short talks presented by PhD Candidates who have been awarded the Society's Jak Kelly Award and the Royal Society of NSW Scholarships for 2020.  Follow the links to read a summary of each presentation and a brief biography of the presenter. 

Mr Matthew Donnelly (Jak Kelly Award) — Controlling how electrons move in silicon at the atomic scale 

Mr Sajad Razavi Bazaz (Scholarship Winner) — 3D printed micro-engineered systems for life science research 

Mr Daniel Fox (Scholarship Winner) — Molecular Mechanisms of Inflammasome Activation by Enterotoxins of the Foodborne Pathogen Bacillus cereus 

Ms Philippa Specker (Scholarship Winner) — Improving the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in refugees: The important role of emotion regulation 

Presentation Summaries and Brief Biographies of the Presenters

Matthew DonnellyControlling how electrons move in silicon at the atomic scale
Mr Matthew Donnelly, PhD Student, UNSW (Sydney)

Silicon is one the most important materials in the modern world due to its use in the integrated circuits that make up the computers and phones we use every day. We use silicon to build computers because it is a semiconductor — a class of materials in which we can control how electrons move at the micro and nano scale.

Mr Donnelly’s work focusses on manipulating silicon at the ultimate limit — a single atom — and how we can use this control to fabricate quantum computers, machines that promise to solve a new generation of computational problems. In particular, he will demonstrate how controlling a phenomenon known as quantum tunnelling is critical in this process, and how novel fabrication techniques are bringing these machines one step closer to reality.

Matthew Donnelly is a PhD candidate in the group of Prof. Michelle Simmons within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation at UNSW (Sydney). His research investigates monolithic donor structures in silicon and their application in spin-based quantum computing. In particular, he is focussed on using 3D fabrication techniques to precisely control tunnel rates and other parameters critical to the operation of spin qubits.

Sajad Razavi Bazaz3D printed micro-engineered systems for life science research
Mr Sajad Razavi Bazaz, PhD Student, University of Technology Sydney

Scaling down high-cost and demanding facilities into tiny, multi-functionalised microchips has revolutionised research areas — a technology referred to as microfluidics. Microfluidics is a science that allows the manipulation of minuscule fluid samples, ordinarily in the range of microliters, within networks of channels ranging from tens to hundreds of micrometers. Microfluidic systems are promising tools for the advancement of chemical and biological research with evident benefits. Improvements such as reduced reagent consumption, higher sensitivity, modelling of in vivo microenvironments, rapid processing, detailed spatial resolution, process integration, and automation have been achieved over the past three decades. 

In recent years, additive manufacturing, particularly 3D printing, has gained significant traction, being named the third industrial revolution. Due to the expanding use of microfluidic systems in laboratories, 3D printing has emerged as an alternative method to the traditional, costly fabrication process. The ability to fabricate structures ranging from a few microns to several centimeters is a complex process that can only be accomplished by taking advantage of 3D printing methods. Rapid prototyping provides an opportunity to adopt a “fail fast and often” strategy, motivating the researchers to utilise 3D printers in the field of microfluidics. In this fabrication method, a physical object is fabricated from a virtual model by designing the object via computer-assisted design (CAD) software, converting the design into the 3D printer language, and printing with a 3D printer in a single process.

The modularisation of microfluidic devices using additive manufacturing enables researchers to fabricate integrated microfluidic devices for various applications. Among all these different applications, research in life science technologies has shown significant promise. Not long ago, microfluidics was a burgeoning technology on the fringe of practical applications; now, it is coming of age in the life sciences and being recognised its enormous potential.  This presentation will showcase the use of 3D printed micro-engineered systems in research in the life sciences.

Sajad Razavi Bazaz is a PhD candidate in the a School of Biomedical Engineering of the University of Technology Sydney. His main research focus is to develop functional 3D-printed micro-engineered microfluidic devices for life science research. During his PhD journey, he has been able to develop a new functional 3D printing method for the fabrication of microfluidic devices. Toward his goals, Sajad and his colleagues have established a start-up company to develop 3D printed microfluidic devices for selective sperm selection in the IVF market.

Daniel FoxMolecular mechanisms of inflammasome activation by enterotoxins of the foodborne pathogen Bacillus cereus
Mr Daniel Fox, PhD Student, Australian National University

Bacillus cereus is a clinically important and neglected human foodborne pathogen. This Gram-positive and rod-shaped bacterium is found ubiquitously in the environment and in undercooked and processed food products. Ingestion of B. cereus endospores often leads to germination and propagation of viable vegetative cells in the human gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to emetic and diarrheal syndromes largely depending on the production of enterotoxins. Of concern is the potential for B. cereus to cause often-fatal extra-gastrointestinal disease in immune-compromised patients, including systemic bacterial septicemia, ocular infections, anthrax-like pneumonia, cutaneous gas-gangrene-like infections, and infections of the central nervous system. 

B. cereus secretes multiple toxins, including the tripartite toxins haemolysin BL (HBL) and non-haemolytic enterotoxin (NHE). Our lab has previously made the important observation that HBL induces activation of the cytosolic inflammasome sensor NLRP3, which subsequently promotes the production of inflammation and host cell death. However, of particular interest is that B. cereus isolates which lack HBL can cause inflammation and disease in humans, suggesting that other non-redundant virulence factors are critical in the pathogenesis of this pathogen. My work has identified that NHE of B. cereus is also able to induce activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome and cell death via a mechanism targeting the plasma membrane of host cells. I found that the subunits of this toxin assemble to form a functional pore, which drive the efflux of cytosolic potassium from the host cell. This toxin kills cell types from multiple lineages and host origin, highlighting its functional repertoire in different host species. Moreover, my findings suggest that both NHE and HBL operate synergistically to induce inflammation in the host. Overall, my results highlight that multiple virulence factors from the same pathogen exhibiting conserved function and mechanism of action can be exploited for sensing by a single inflammasome, ultimately leading to increased capacity of the host to detect and defend against naturally-occurring genetic variants. 

Daniel Fox first started his research career as an undergraduate summer research student in the laboratory of Prof. Si Ming Man, in late 2017. Daniel went on to pursue and complete a first-class Honours degree in Medical Science in Prof. Man’s lab in 2018, where he published work in the Journal of Molecular Biology and Nature Microbiology, both as a co-first, and co-author. He began his PhD in 2019, continuing in Prof. Man’s lab, where he continued to characterise the innate immune response to clinically important, and neglected human foodborne pathogens. Since starting his PhD, Daniel has been selected to present his work at conferences both in China and the USA, has published first-author work in Nature Communications, and Cell Research, and has won two grants from the Gretel and Gordon Bootes Medical Research Foundation, totalling $23,500 AUD. He hopes to continue to advance his work in innate immunity as a medical researcher in the future.

Phillipa SpeckerImproving the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in refugees: The important role of emotion regulation
Ms Phillipa Specker, PhD Student, UNSW (Sydney)

The psychological presentation of traumatised refugees is complex and presents a global challenge to public health. There are currently an estimated 80 million refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people worldwide and this number is steadily growing. Refugees encounter multiple and severe forms of trauma, such as war exposure, torture, imprisonment, and witnessing the murder of loved ones. Then, after fleeing danger, refugees also experience ongoing stress due to family separation, visa insecurity and socio-economic difficulties. Owing to these experiences of persecution and displacement, refugees experience greatly elevated rates of psychological disorders. In particular, as many as 1 in 3 refugees suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Although psychological treatments for PTSD exist, they were not designed to address the psychological complexities of refugee experiences. In particular, many refugees have difficulties managing intense and unresolved emotions including fear, grief, anger, disgust, sadness, and guilt. While emotion regulation difficulties have been linked to psychopathology among other populations, very little research has investigated whether emotion regulation difficulties may be implicated in the development of mental illness among refugees. Such research may be crucial in facilitating the improvement of psychological treatment for refugees. 

This talk will discuss emerging research on the role of emotion regulation in the development and maintenance of PTSD among refugees. Philippa will discuss findings from her PhD research, including quantitative and experimental studies with refugees, to highlight how emotion regulation skills training may aid in the resolution of PTSD symptoms.

Phillipa Specker is a PhD candidate enrolled in the combined PhD/Master of Psychology (Clinical) Program at UNSW. Philippa’s research is in the area of emotion regulation and refugee mental health, and seeks to understand how exposure to traumatic events impact on an individual’s capacity to utilize emotion regulation strategies to manage psychological distress. Her research aims to advance knowledge regarding mechanisms underpinning trauma-related psychopathology, and inform the development of effective and tailored interventions for survivors of persecution and displacement. Philippa has published three peer-reviewed papers in leading journals including the European Journal of Psychotraumatology and Clinical Psychology Review, and has presented her research at three national and five international conferences. In recognition of her contribution to the field of traumatic stress through research, clinical work and community advocacy, Philippa received the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies’ Outstanding Student Achievement Award (2020) and was shortlisted for the Australian-American Postgraduate Fulbright Award (2020). Philippa is also a Clinical Psychology Registrar at the Refugee Trauma and Recovery Program, where she delivers evidence-based treatment for refugees suffering from PTSD.

JAN
25

Introducing "The Long Enlightenment" from the Royal Societies of Australia

Cover of The Long EnlightenmentThe Royal Societies of Australia is a national umbrella organisation advocating for all of Australia’s Royal Societies, including the Royal Society of NSW.

The Royal Societies of Australia and Halstead Press present a new book by Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN on the achievements of Australian scientists, both famous and forgotten, from the colonial period up until the mid-20th century.

Professor Clancy examines over 100 scientists and their work to discover what enabled the dramatic success of Australian research on both a global and domestic stage. This is no romantic celebration of an imagined golden age, but rather a study of the assets and obstacles that steered the course of scientific accomplishment in this country that seeks to answer the crucial question of what we can learn from the scientific thinking and practice of the past.

This important, new, well-illustrated hardcover work of 184 pages is now available at the special price of $40 plus postage for all Members and Fellows of the Royal Society of NSW.

To obtain your copy, send your completed order form by email to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by post to:

Royal Societies of Australia logo
The Royal Societies of Australia
GPO Box 188
Canberra ACT 2601

FEB
24

Stewardship of Country from the Royal Societies of Australia

Stewardship of Country logo: Royal Societies of Australia“Stewardship of Country:
The Common Ground –
A Convergence of Traditions”

Presented jointly by the
Royal Societies of Australia and
Inspiring Australia Victoria

Date: Wednesday, 24 February, 6.00–8.00pm AEDT
Venue: Live streaming on the RSA Facebook page
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Entry: No charge for livestreaming.  Paid registration is required for participation as a panellist.
All are welcome

Join the Royal Societies of Australia for a collaboration with Inspiring Australia Victoria. Stewardship of Country is a series of three webinars that aim to generate a discussion of landscape and environmental stewardship bridging Indigenous, scientific, economic and social perspectives with supporting ideas for practical action and public good.

rsa stewardship of country full width header

Webinar 1: The Common Ground — A Convergence of Traditions focuses on history and meeting of traditions, recognising the potential for European farming practices to adapt to an increasingly challenging environment, and the role of complex Indigenous knowledge systems developed over an astonishing stretch of time in rehabilitating the landscape.

This event will feature four presentations by:

  • Adjunct Associate Professor Mary Graham of The University of Queensland
  • Professor Peter Bridgewater of the Australian National University, Canberra University and Beijing Forestry University
  • Mr David Pollock of Wooleen Station
  • Mr Justin O’Brien, Dr Chris Brady and Mr Peter Christopherson of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation.

 

with panellists:

  • Dr Mark Stafford Smith, CSIRO Honorary Fellow
  • Ms Verity Morgan-Schmidt, Gheerulla Creek Consulting
  • Dr Tyson Yunkaporta, Deakin University.

 

Stewardship of Country will be conducted online as a Zoom webinar. Each event will be livestreamed on the Societies Facebook page free of charge; paid registration is open to those who would like to submit questions and engage in the session as audience members.

MAR
03

1291st OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Ian Hickie AM FRSM FASSA FAHMS“What are the best options for growing Australia’s mental health through the COVID-19 recovery?”

Professor Ian Hickie AM FRSN FASSA FAHMS
Co-Director, Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 3 March, 6.30pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom webinar. Click here for help in getting started with Zoom
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Entry: No charge
All are welcome. 

Summary: To follow.

Professor Ian Hickie is Co-Director, Health and Policy, at The University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre. He is a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow (2013-2017 and 2018-22), having previously been one of the inaugural NHMRC Australian Fellows (2008-12). He was an inaugural Commissioner on Australia’s National Mental Health Commission (2012-18) overseeing enhanced accountability for mental health reform and suicide prevention. He is an internationally renowned researcher in clinical psychiatry, with particular reference to medical aspects of common mood disorders, depression and bipolar disorder. He is now focused on the development of real-time personalized and measurement-based care systems for use in partnership with young people and their families. These systems promote early intervention, use of new and emerging technologies and suicide prevention. In his role with the National Mental Health Commission, and his independent research, health system and advocacy roles, Professor Hickie has been at the forefront of the move to have mental health and suicide prevention integrated with other aspects of health care (notably chronic disease and ambulatory care management).

 

 

DEC
09

1289th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Matthew England FRSN FAA“Dispelling climate change myths—how ocean physics can help explain surprises in the modern-day climate record”

Professor Matthew England FRSN FAA
Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 9 December, 6.30pm AEST
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Video Presentation: YouTube Video

Summary: Certain aspects of the climate record are often seized upon in an attempt to disprove the threat of human-caused climate change. Notable examples include the decade-long slowdown in global surface warming that occurred in the early 2000’s, as well as recent surface cooling and sea-ice expansion around Antarctica. This talk will describe how ocean and climate dynamics can explain these behaviours of the coupled climate system, and how the threat of anthropogenic climate change remains as real as ever.

Professor Matthew England  is a Scientia Professor of Ocean & Climate Dynamics at the University of New South Wales who has previously held ARC Laureate and Federation Fellowships. He was the founding Director of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC) during 2006-2013. In 2014 England was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and in 2016 as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW and was the winner of the Society's most prestigious award, the James Cook Medal, in 2019.

 

DEC
02

Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-5

Professor Tony“Planetary Health—Safeguarding Health in the Anthropocene Epoch”

Professor Tony Capon
Professor of Planetary Health and
Director, Sustainable Development Institute
Monash University

Date: Wednesday, 2 December 2020, 6.00pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Video Presentation:YouTube Video

Summary:  The rise of the global threat of pandemic viral disease is not the only issue confronting the modern world. There are a bundle of major related problems stemming from man’s successes in building a more comfortable existence. It is now apparent to many scientists that the drive to modify, utilise and control the resources of our planet, especially over the past few hundred years, is affecting the health of our planet.  Planetary Health is a new field of inquiry that links a multiplicity of disciplines which observe changes in the well-being of life on Earth.

In this presentation, Professor Capon will introduce the findings of the Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on Planetary Health report, “Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch, and canvass their implications for the protection and promotion of future human health and wellbeing.“ To respond effectively to the health challenges of the Anthropocene, human societies need to grapple with the global transitions that are currently shaping our lives–demographic, epidemiological, food, energy, urban, economic, cultural and ecological. Humanity can chart a safe, healthy and prosperous course ahead by addressing unacceptable inequities in health and wealth within the environmental limits of the Earth. However, this will require the generation of new knowledge, the implementation of wise policies, decisive action and inspirational leadership.

Professor Capon’s presentation will be supported by a panel moderated by the Hunter Branch vice-chairman, Laureate Professor John Aitken, and consisting of Dr John Van Der Kellan, the president of the NSW branch of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), and Ms. Georgia Brown, a medical student who is an the main mover in Code Green, the climate action arm of AMSA (Australian Medical Students Association).

Professor Tony Capon directs the Monash Sustainable Development Institute and holds a chair in planetary health in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. A public health physician and authority in environmental health and health promotion, his research focuses on urbanisation, sustainable development and human health. He is a former director of the International Institute for Global Health at United Nations University (UNU-IIGH) and has previously held professorial appointments at the University of Sydney and Australian National University. He is a member of the Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on Planetary Health that published its report Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch in 2015, and the International Advisory Board for The Lancet Planetary Health.

Two of his recent publications are:

  • ‘Advancing Planetary Health in Australia: focus on emerging infections and antimicrobial resistance.’ Hill-Cawthorne et al. BMJ Global Health (2019)4(2) e 001283
  • ‘Human Health on an Ailing Planet’ - Historical Perspectives on Our Future.’ Dunk JH et al. NEJM, 2019, 381(8):778-782
JAN
01

Calendar of Meetings 2021

RSNSW SealThis page lists the Calandar of Meetings for the Royal Society of NSW in 2021.


Please check this page regularly since the program is under ongoing development.


Follow the links below for meetings held by the Society in Sydney, in Newcastle by the Hunter Branch, and in Mittagong by the Southern Highlands Branch.

 

Sydney Meetings 2021

Please note that the program in the table below lists events that are scheduled as monthly Ordinary General Meetings and the Annual Forum of the Royal Society and Four Academies. In addition to these events, there are three named lectures, associated with the Society’s 2020 Awards, that remain to be scheduled:

  • Clarke Lecture — Distinguished Professor Michelle Leishman (Macquarie University)
  • Liversidge Lecture — Professor Richard Payne FRSN (University of Sydney)
  • Poggendorf Lecture — Professor Angela Moles FRSN (UNSW Sydney)

together with another lecture in the [email protected] series, and the Society’s contributions to Science Week 2021 in the latter half of the year.

DateEvent

Wednesday,
3 February 

6.30pm AEDT

1290th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture:
2020 Jak Kelly Award and RSNSW Scholarship Winner Presentations

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Controlling how electrons move in silicon at the atomic scale
Mr Matthew Donnelly — Jak Kelly Award Winner
PhD Student, Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, UNSW (Sydney)

3D Printing for Microfluidics (TBC)
Mr Sajad Razavi Bazaz — RSNSW Scholarship Winner
PhD Student, School of Biomedical Engineering, University of Technology Sydney

Molecular mechanisms of inflammasome activation by enterotoxins of the foodborne pathogen Bacillus cereus
Mr Daniel Fox — RSNSW Scholarship Winner
PhD Student, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University

Improving the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in refugees: The important role of emotion regulation
Ms Phillipa Specker — RSNSW Scholarship Winner
PhD Student, School of Psychology, UNSW (Sydney)

Wednesday,
3 March 

6.30pm AEDT

1291st Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Zoom Webinar

What are the best options for growing Australia’s mental health through the COVID-19 recovery?
Professor Ian Hickie AM FRSN FASSA FAHMS
Co-Director (Health and Policy), Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney

Wednesday,
7 April

6.00pm AEDT

154th Annual General Meeting (6.00pm)
1292nd Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture (immediately following)

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Antarctica, this ain’t no mirage: The value of art in disseminating scientific information
Lea Kannar-Lichtenberger
Artist, exploring connections between science and art practice

Wednesday,
5 May

6.30pm AEST

1293rd Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Zoom Webinar (TBC)

Big, bad fires in NSW
Emerita Professor Mary O’Kane AC FRSN FTSE HonFIEAust
Chair, Independent Planning Commission of NSW and former Chief Scientist and Engineer of NSW

Wednesday,
2 June

6.30pm AEDT

1294th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Zoom Webinar (TBC)

Murray-Darling Basin turmoil: past, present and future
Professor Richard Kingsford FRSN
Director, Centre for Ecosystem Science, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW (Sydney)

Wednesday,
7 July

6.30pm AEST

1295th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: To be advised

Society as an information-processing system, and the influence of the media
Dr Erik Aslaksen FRSN
Director, Systems Engineer, and Author

Wednesday
4 August 

6.30pm AEST

1296th Ordinary General Meeeting and Open Lecture

Venue: To be advised

Towards a modern history of Gondwanaland
Professor Alison Bashford FRSN FAHA FBA FRHistS
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW (Sydney)

Wednesday,
1 September

6.30pm AEST

1297th Ordinary General Meeeting and Open Lecture

Venue: To be advised

Taking humour and laughter seriously: Exploring the multi-disciplinary field of humour studies 
Dr Jessica Millner-Davis FRSN
Honorary Associate, School of Literature, Art and Media, University of Sydney

Wednesday,
6 October

6.30pm AEDT

1298th Ordinary General Meeeting and Open Lecture

Venue: To be advised

Topic: To be advised 
Scientia Professor Toby Walsh
School of Computer Science and Engineering, UNSW (Sydney)

Date TBA
November

9.00am - 4.30pm AEDT

Royal Society of NSW and Four Academies Annual Forum

Venue: Government House, Sydney, Live Streaming and subsequent availability on YouTube

Topic: To be advised

Wednesday
10 November

6.30pm AEDT

1299th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: To be advised

Topic: To be announced
Speaker: To be announced

Wednesday
1 December

6.30pm AEDT

1300th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: To be advised

Managing psychological distress in times of stress: handling the stress of COVID-19
Scientia Professor Richard Bryant AC FASSA FAA FAHMS — James Cook Medal Winner 2020
School of Psychology, UNSW (Sydney)

Return to the top of page

 

Hunter Branch Meetings

The Hunter Branch Event Program for 2021 is still under development.

Return to the top of page

NOV
18

Southern Highlands Branch Meeting 2020-9

Professor Sandra Lynch“Relativity revealed: Einstein’s discoveries, the origin and shape of the universe”

Ian Bryce

Date: Wednesday, 18 November 2020 at 6.30pm AEST
Venue: Mittagong RSL, Carrington Room 
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
All are welcome

(*) This event will be the branch’s first face-to-face event since March.  Due to social distancing requirements, however, attendance is limited to at most 30 people.  Please register for this event with Hubert Regtop, Chair, Southern Highlands Branch of the Royal Society of NSW at the email address above. 

Ian BryceIan Bryce graduated with a BSc in physics from Monash University, Melbourne, in 1970, followed by Engineering in 1972. He has long experience as an aerospace engineer with Telstra, Optus, and Hawker de Havilland, on aircraft, spacecraft and launch vehicle projects. As Chief Engineer for the Asia Pacific Space Centre, he worked closely with the Russians on a proposed spaceport on Christmas island. With Aerospace Concepts, he developed complex methodologies for risk analysis of weapons and rocket tests at Australia’s test site at Woomera. Ian lectured at several universities in space sciences. This includes 7 years at University of NSW, where he created a subject Space Vehicle Design. He has moved to applying the methods of science to human welfare, including a methodology called Measuring Morality. Ian teaches NSW Primary Ethics, and is active in the Skeptics (Challenge Coordinator) and Humanist societies.

 

NOV
11

1288th OGM and Open Lecture

Helicobacter pylori image “Where have all the ulcers gone — long time passing?”

Professor Adrian Lee FRSN and
Professor Thomas Borody FRSN
UNSW Sydney (1) and
Centre for Digestive Diseases (2)

Date: Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 6.30pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom Webinar.
Video presentation: YouTube video

This is the first presentation in the series Great NSW Discoveries, a sequence of presentations documenting past and present discoveries that have made a difference. In it, Emeritus Professor Lee and Professor Borody will tell little known stories of the essential contributions by RSNSW Fellows to one of the greatest medical advances in our times. The presentations will be introduced by Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN and the discussions will be rounded out by Emeritus Professor The Honourable Peter Baume AC DistFRSN.

Summary: In 1982 Robin Warren and Barry Marshall at the Royal Perth Hospital described the presence of squiggly bacteria in the gastric mucosa of patients with Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD).Helicobacter pylori was on the map! They would deservedly be awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery, which would change the world – medicine would never be the same again. It is not possible for even the modern generation of gastroenterologists to appreciate the way PUD dominated the lives of both patients and doctors 50 years ago — surgical lists were full of patients for gastrectomy, medical wards with patients with uncontrolled pain and complications. Twenty percent of men had a Duodenal Ulcer. Emergency rosters meant bleeding or perforated ulcers. Yet today, PUD is rarely seen – a recent analysis of the impact of H. pylori and its eradication over 25 years in Australia shows a saving of 19,000 deaths, and $10B in costs.

Warren and Marshall would have struggled to develop their ideas without the professional support of Professor Adrian Lee, with a long history of study of “squiggly” bacteria in the gut. His experience in the growth of these bacteria, their role in animal models, and his contributions to diagnosis, vaccine development and the link to cancer, added to the biology and broad understanding of these bacteria, enabling interpretation of the Perth discovery in a biological context. Warren and Marshall understood the importance of eradication to prove causation, but were unable to develop sterilising therapy, so only an association could be claimed. Professor Tom Borody carefully trialled a series of antibiotics to develop the first effective antibiotic combination, enabling for the first time, proof of causation of duodenal ulcers. This began a long sequence of contributions to our understanding and treatment of PUD by Borody including addition of PPI’s, and development of “escape” therapy. He worked with the Newcastle group to develop the first “near-patient” “yes/no” test, and identified a role for the host response in conditioning outcomes of the “host-parasite” relationship.

Adrian Lee will discuss Adventures with spiral bugs and Helicobacter.  Adrian’s adventure began in 1967 at the Rockefeller University in New York when he did a post doc with Rene Dubos one of the grandfathers of the gut microbiome. Moving to UNSW in 1969 as a lecturer in Medical Microbiology, he continued his interest in the bacteria of the mouse intestinal tract concentrating on the spiral/helical bacteria that colonised gut mucus. He also worked on the spiral pathogen, Campylobacter jejuni, and then on the organism that Barry Marshall and Robin Warren had grown from gastric biopsies using his culture techniques. Later, he developed the first animal models of Helicobacter pylori infection including the first vaccine studies and demonstration of H.pylori -induced gastric malignancy. For ten years, he travelled the world trying to convince clinicians to treat H.pylori infection. Progressing to Professor of Medical Microbiology in 1990, he also worked as a WHO consultant in medical education. In 2000, he left his beloved spiral bugs to cross to the dark side at UNSW becoming Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) with a brief to improve the quality of teaching. Retiring in 2006, he carried out consultancies in tertiary education and now writes about his squiggly bugs and runs a choir.

Tom Borody will discuss How we cured Helicobacter pylori infection in Australia.  Professor Borody is a world renowned medical doctor from Australia with over 40 years experience in clinical research and practice, including at the St Vincent Hospital in Sydney and at the Mayo clinic in the US. In 1984 he established the Centre for Digestive Diseases in Sydney, overseeing its growth into an active clinical research institute with 65 employees. Professor Borody is most famous for his ground-breaking work developing the triple therapy cure for peptic ulcers in 1987, which has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and the Australian health system more than $10 billion in medical care and operations. Professor Borody is a leader in the clinical microbiota dating back to 1988 when he started performing what is now called Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT). He holds over 150 patents in areas such as; treatment of Helicobacter pylori, Crohn’s disease, bowel lavage, IBS and FMT. 

NOV
05

RSNSW and Four Academies Forum 2020

Globe and coronavirus“After COVID-19:
Creating the Best of Times from the Worst of Times”


Date: Thursday, 5 November 2020, 8.50am – 4.30pm
Venue: Live streaming from Government House, Sydney.
Report and Videos: Forum Report and YouTube Playlist

Summary

One hundred years after the 1918 Spanish flu claimed more than 50 million lives, pandemics remain on the list of major global risks. They are difficult to predict and invariably alter the course of history in ways we cannot foresee. The impact of this year’s COVID-19 pandemic spread quickly well beyond the people it infected, creating massive shifts across society and all sectors of the economy.

The pandemic has exposed the social and economic vulnerabilities of today’s highly leveraged and interconnected world. It has also compounded prevailing existential risks for Australia, including the impact of climate change, a decade of household income stagnation, and an erosion of critically important political institutions that underpin national prosperity and our free, open, democratic society.

The Royal Society of New South Wales will again join with the four Learned Academies of Australia to stage our annual Forum in Government House, Sydney, on 5th November under the gracious Vice Regal Patronage of Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales.The Forum will examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has become a wake-up call for all of us to drive a wide-ranging, national program that will create a more resilient, self-sufficient and prosperous Australia.

Transformations achieved already during the pandemic include escalations of telemedicine, automation, and digital commerce and communications, to name but a few. These show us what is possible when the wrecking-ball of a virus exacts its human and economic toll. Our challenge now is to take these transformations further and build the society and institutions we envisage for a much better future.

The Royal Society of NSW acknowledges the generous support of Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales, the NSW Government Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer, and the New South Wales Smart Sensing Network.

Program

The complete program, containing abstracts of the presentations and brief biographies of the presenters, is a available as a pdf document.

Start End  
08:30 08:50 Registration 
08:50 08:55 Guests seated
08:55 09:15 Governor is announced into the Ballroom
    Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country
Ian Sloan AO FRSN FAA
President, Royal Society of NSW
    Official Opening
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC
Governor of New South Wales
    Introduction to the Moderator and Rapporteur  (Eric Knight FRSN, Executive Dean, Macquarie Business School)
Susan Pond AM FRSN FTSE— Chair, Forum Program Committee
09:15 10:15 Keynote Address
Immunity from history: what can we learn from collective responses to crises
Peter Hobbins — Principal Historian, Artefact Heritage Services
10:15 10:45 Morning Tea — served on the Verandah
10:45 11:45 Session I: Forging a resilient future for Australia’s youth
    The New Normal? Living in the liminal and what comes next?
Genevieve Bell AO FTSE— Distinguished Professor and Director, 3A Institute, The Australian National University, and Senior Fellow, Intel
    Emerging generations and evolving intersections between technology and humanity
Jordan Nguyen — Founder & CEO, Psykinetic
11:45 12:45 Session II: Sweeping Changes to Australia’s Healthcare System
    COVID-19: Transforming the way we provide health care
Teresa Anderson AM — Chief Executive, Sydney Local Health District, NSW Health
    The Australian COVID-19 public health response: lessons and future directions
Gregory Dore — Scientia Professor and Head, Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
12:45 14:00 Lunch  — served on the Verandah
14:00 15:00 Session III: Australia’s Culture and Creative Industries
    The weaving power of indigenous storytelling
Larissa Behrendt AO FASSA — Distinguished Professor, University of Technology Sydney
    For what it’s worth: performing arts value lost and found during COVID-19
Bethwyn Serow — Arts and Policy Strategist
15:00 16:00 Reshaping Australia’s Institutions
    Martin Parkinson AC PSM FASSA — Chancellor, Macquarie University
    Anne Tiernan — Professor and Dean Engagement, Griffith Business School, Griffith University
    in conversation with
Julianne Schultz AM FAHA — Professor in Media and Culture, Griffith University, and Chair,The Conversation Media Group
16:00 16:30 Rapporteur Session
Eric Knight FRSN, Macquarie University
16:30 18:00 Refreshments — served on the Verandah
OCT
27

Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-4

The Engaged University

Professor Janet Nelson 
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation
University of Newcastle

Date: Tuesday, 27 October 2020, 5.15pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

This event was presented jointly with the University of Newcastle as part of its Looking Ahead series.

Summary: In today’s society, we face unprecedented change and complex global challenges. This means we need to think and work differently, and our agility, responsiveness, and collaborative experimentation as a society will be critical to sustainability and success – not only for university and our regional economies, but for our wider communities.

Join Professor Janet Nelson as she examines how researchers collaborate with community partners to leverage the unique history of our region – and increase our research and academic excellence – to solve some of our most wicked problems.

Janet and her panel of experts will discuss some of the current opportunities and challenges our researchers are facing and seeking to solve: how do we bring the world closer to a sustainable future? How do we support transition and uptake of natural resources in the development of new energy technologies?

The University of Newcastle is looking ahead and focusing on the solutions we need to build for our regions. We are empowered by our reputation for outstanding research and collaboration, underpinned by our values of excellence, equity, sustainability and engagement in everything we do. With our fellow citizens we can navigate through this unique time. The University of Newcastle is dedicated to our partnerships with regions as we thrive into our shared future.

Professor Janet Nelson joined the University of Newcastle in March 2020. In her role, she serves as the university’s chief research officer with responsibilities for the diverse and comprehensive research enterprise. She will draw on her extensive experience in scientific research, business development and research administration to further enhance the university’s reputation for research excellence, engagement and impact.

Professor Nelson has more than 30 years of experience in scientific research, scientific review, research portfolio administration, complex and multidisciplinary program and project management, business development, and science policy implementation.

Prior to moving to Australia, she was the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at the University of Idaho in the United States. Other previous roles include Associate Vice-Chancellor of Research Development at the University of Tennessee, Director of Business Development for URS Corporation (now AECOM), Director at a Biotechnology Industry Organisation in Washington, D.C., and Deputy Chief and Scientific Review Officer at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Professor Nelson holds a PhD in Chemistry from California Institute of Technology and a BA in Chemistry from Carleton College, Minnesota. She is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an Honorary Member of the National Academy of Inventors.

 

OCT
15

Southern Highlands Branch Meeting 2020-8

Susannah Fullerton“Literary England: Susannah’s Top Ten Places”

Susannah Fullerton OAM FRSN
Literary Lecturer and President, Jane Austen Society of Australia

Date: Thursday, 15 October 2020 
Venue: Via email circulation

While pandemic restrictions on group activities prevail, the South Highlands Branch continues to send members information and summaries from our scheduled speakers.

Summary

In her memoir 84 Charing Cross Road, American Helene Hanff goes searching for the ‘England of English Literature’. I know just how she felt. I first went to England in 1980, with a long list of literary places I just had to see – I longed to visit the homes of favourite novelists and poets, walk the paths they had trodden, pay my respects at their graves, and see with my own eyes the landscapes that had filled my imagination since I had learned to read.

England is so rich in literary connections that it was terribly hard choosing only ten places for this talk. I have tried to include variety – of authors, of sites and of geographical area. There’s a library, houses large and small, churches, a graveyard and an ancient charitable institution. I will take you from the gentle countryside of southern England, up to more dramatic northern landscapes.

I hope that this virtual travel will enchant and intrigue you, will give you ideas of places to include in your next visit to England, or bring back wonderful memories. I have not included literary places in London – that has to be a separate talk.

What I hope this talk will make you do is to consider which Top Ten places you would choose, and to consider with a deeper appreciation the incredible riches of the England of English Literature.

The lecture can be access from this link.

Susannah Fullerton  has been the President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia for more than twenty years. She has written several books about Jane Austen and has lectured about her favourite novelist around Australia and overseas. She received an OAM for services to literature and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW. Susannah is also the Patron of the Kipling Society of Australia. She leads literary tours to the UK, Europe, NZ and the USA, and she sends out a popular and free monthly blog, ‘Notes from a Book Addict’ which you can sign up for on her website. Susannah is one of ADFAS’s most popular Australia lecturers and she offers a wide range of talks about famous writers and their works.

OCT
14

The Clancy Collection—an Exhibition of Early Maps

An eeraly map of Sydney“Charting a Course: a 500-year story of discovery and the development of Sydney”

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN
Royal Society of NSW

Dates:  Wednesday, 14 October 2020, 3.00-4.30pm AEDT
Venue: Manly Art Gallery and Museum, West Esplanade Reserve, Manly NSW 2095
Entry: There is a limit of 20 attendees on each occasion due to COVID-19 related entry restrictions.  Register by email with the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ensure your place.  Wine and cheese will be available at a cost of $10 per person, to be collected at the door.  
Enquiries: By email to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
All are welcome.

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy The Clancy Collection is one of Australia’s most significant archives of maps, ranging from 15th century European maps to an extensive collection depicting Australia and the Pacific. In this exhibition of around 100 maps, Sydney is the focus of a 500 year story of European expansion, scientific discovery and navigational endeavour.

Professor Clancy will guide attendees through an exhibition of maps that trace the discovery of Terra Australis and the development of Sydney using contemporary maps as documents of history. It is also the story of the printed map from 1480 to 1950. Maps compare the world as seen through western eyes before and after the great ocean traverses by those seeking the source of nutmeg and cloves. From their bases on the north coast of Java, expeditions led to discovery of Australia and the western two-thirds of the continent. The French and the English stole the 18th century, with James Cook tracing the east coast, to complete a rough circumference, before the English established a Jail at Sydney Cove for 1000 souls. The remaining exhibition explores the changing relationship between Sydney and its hinterland, and population shifts that take place as Sydney takes an international stage. Land becomes a common denominator as early grants give way to suburbs, and squatters give way to farmers. Sub-stories include navigation, charts, transport and always, land issues.

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy was the Foundation Professor of Pathology in the University of Newcastle Medical School and a clinical immunologist who undertook research in mucosal immunology and the development of mechanisms to enhance mucosal resistance and control mucosal inflammation. He has a strong involvement in the biotechnology of natural products that maximise mucosal immune competence, protecting against infection, and he maintains a clinic in gastroenterology focused on inflammatory bowel disease.  He maintains a strong, longstanding interest in histocartography relating to the discovery and development of Terra Australis, and the history of science and medicine, with a focus on epidemics. He has written five books on histocartography and is a regular speaker on maps—curating exhibitions and writing numerous articles on this topic.

OCT
07

1287th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Huw Price“Where now for the study of time?”

Professor Huw Price
Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy
University of Cambridge

Date: Wednesday, 7 October 2020, 6.30pm AEDT
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

Summary: The scientific world has just marked the centenary of Sir Arthur Eddington’s confirmation of Einstein’s prediction of the bending of light by gravity. This work, based on observations during a solar eclipse in 1919, made Eddington a household name. He became one of the great science communicators of his generation. When he died in 1944, TIME magazine said that the world had lost 'one of mankind’s most reassuring cosmic thinkers'.

One of Eddington's favourite cosmic subjects was Time's Arrow, a term he himself introduced to the literature in his 1927 book, The Nature of the Physical World. Eddington thought that there is something essential about time that physics is liable to neglect: the fact that it "goes on", as he often puts it.

Despite the best efforts of philosophers to pour cold water on this idea, similar claims are still made today, in physics as well as in philosophy. In the lecture that begins this presentation, Huw Price argues all sides in these debates can profit by going back to Eddington. Eddington appreciates some of the pitfalls of these claims with greater clarity than their contemporary proponents, and also issues a challenge to rival views that deserves to be better known.

The lecture was delivered in Copenhagen in 2011 at Setting Time Aright – An international and inter-disciplinary meeting investigating the Nature of Time. This was the third international conference of the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi), and it was organised in conjunction with the Centre for Time at the University of Sydney. For this evening’s event, Huw Price is joined by two current co-Directors of the Centre for Time, Kristie Miller and Alex Holcombe, to ask: Where now for the study of time?

What Kristie Miller will talk about: One compelling account of time is that time is a fourth dimension similar to, but not the same as, the three spatial dimensions. On this view, each of us is extended along this temporal dimension. So rather than its being the case that we move through time, by being first here, and then there, instead we are really one long elongated worm that is stretched out through time. Often though, this is not how we conceptualise time, nor is it how we experience time, or ourselves in time. Regardless of what time is really like, the ways that people think about, and experience, time, have an impact on how they understand their lives. Some of our most recent research focuses on the ways in which what we want, and where we want it, are affected by the ways that we think about and engage with the temporal dimension. In a nutshell, one hypothesis is that the way we think about time leads us to have what seem to be irrational preferences: we prefer that we experience more suffering, rather than less suffering, as long as that suffering is located in our past, rather than our future.

What Alex Holcombe will talk about: Alex will explain how scientific psychology research has revealed a number of illusions associated with our experience of time, and hopefully demonstrate a few of them, screen sharing and video link permitting. These illusory phenomena, together with theoretical considerations regarding what perception is for, cast doubt on the validity of inferences about the nature of reality from our experience.

Professor Huw Price is Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy and a Fellow of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. He is Academic Director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, and was co-founder with Martin Rees and Jaan Tallinn of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. In 2019 he joined the inaugural Board of the Ada Lovelace Institute, and became the UK Director of the new China-UK Research Centre for AI Ethics and Governance. Before moving to Cambridge in 2011 he was ARC Federation Fellow and Challis Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, where he was founding Director of the Centre for Time.

His publications include Facts and the Function of Truth (Blackwell, 1988; 2nd. edn. OUP, forthcoming), Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point (OUP, 1996), Naturalism Without Mirrors (OUP, 2011) and a range of articles in journals such as Nature, Science, Philosophical Review, Journal of Philosophy, Mind, and British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. His René Descartes Lectures (Tilburg, 2008) were published as Expressivism, Pragmatism and Representationalism (CUP, 2013), with commentary essays by Simon Blackburn, Robert Brandom, Paul Horwich and Michael Williams. He is also co-editor of three collections published by Oxford University Press: Causation, Physics, and the Constitution of Reality (2007, co-edited with Richard Corry); Making a Difference (2017, co-edited with Helen Beebee and Chris Hitchcock); and The Practical Turn (2017, co-edited with Cheryl Misak).

He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow and former Member of Council of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and a Past President of the Australasian Association of Philosophy. He was consulting editor for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy from 1995–2006, and is an associate editor of The Australasian Journal of Philosophy and on the editorial boards of Contemporary Pragmatism, Logic and Philosophy of Science, the Routledge International Library of Philosophy, and the European Journal for Philosophy of Science.

Associate Professor Kristie MillerAssociate Professor Kristie Miller is an ARC Future Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, and a co-Director of the Centre for Time. She works primarily in metaphysics, which is the study of what things there are, and how things interact. Her work in the philosophy of time focuses on two distinct kinds of questions. The first of these is what time, in itself, is like. Her most recent work in this area investigates the question of whether, in light of recent theories in physics that dispense with time altogether in their description of the world, we should conclude that reality is in some good sense timeless. Or, should we instead conclude that time somehow emerges out of a kind of timeless stew. The second of these questions pertains to the connection between time, and our experience of ourselves in time. Her most recent work in this area investigates both how we think about, conceptualize, and experience time.

Professor Alex HolcombeProfessor Alex Holcombe is a professor of psychology at the University of Sydney and co-director of its Centre for Time. Inside the lab, he studies how humans perceive and process visual signals over time. Outside of the lab, he has been active in open science initiatives such as PsyOA.org and co-founded the Association for Psychological Science journal Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science.

SEP
17

Southern Highlands Branch Meeting 2020-7

Professor Sandra Lynch“Philosophical Ethics in Schools: Plan and Paradox”

Adjunct Professor Sandra Lynch 
Institute for Ethics and Society
University of Notre Dame Australia

Date: Thursday, 17 September 2020 at 6.30pm AEST
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

While pandemic restrictions on group activities prevail, the Southern Highlands Branch continues to send members information and summaries from our scheduled speakers. This month, the Branch will be presenting its first webinar, which will be recorded and posted for later viewing. It will be available from the Southern Highlands Branch website and from the YouTube Channel of the Royal Society of NSW. 

Summary

 This presentation considers the rationale for and the value of the teaching of philosophy in contemporary classrooms, particularly in relation to the teaching of ethics. It explores the suppositions we bring to the philosophy classroom, how we might best meet our aims in regard to teaching ethics and the challenges we face in achieving those aims. The different approaches taken to the teaching of philosophical ethics in schools in Australia suggests both the need for greater clarity of purpose in this enterprise and the need to convince educational administrators as well as the broader community of the value of training those who undertake the teaching of philosophical ethics in schools.

Professor Sandra Lynch is the former inaugural Director of the Institute for Ethics and Society and currently Adjunct Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame Australia (Sydney campus). Dr. Lynch’s expertise lies in applied and professional ethics, ethics and values education, the constitution of the self, friendship, critical thinking, and the intersection of philosophy and literature. Her recent research has focussed on models for the teaching of professional ethics, particularly in healthcare ethics, both within educational and professional practice contexts.

Most recently her work has been focused on responding to the need to deepen students’ active engagement in ethical discourse and to enrich their studies by including a focus on the demands of acting on one’s well justified values in complex workplace and social settings. Her research into best practice in the teaching of ethics is underpinned by a commitment to ensuring that students develop the confidence and competence to contribute to the flourishing of their professions and of the societies of which they are part.

 As a former primary schoolteacher with a long-standing involvement in the Philosophy in Schools Association of NSW, Sandra has a strong interest in values education and philosophical inquiry within primary and secondary education, which led to research on values education and the promotion of critical and creative thinking skills in school and tertiary contexts. Her publications include: Strategies for a Thinking Classroom (NSW Primary English Teachers Association, 2008; Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Play: From Birth and Beyond (Springer, 2017); “Philosophy, play and ethics in education” in Philosophical Perspectives on Play (Routledge, 2016); ”Practical and Applied Ethics” in An Introduction to Philosophy and Theology within Catholic Liberal Education (McGraw Hill, 2014); “Relativism tolerance and morality” in Today’s Tyrants (Kapunda Prees, 2019). She is also the author of Philosophy and Friendship (Edinburgh: EUP, 2005) and Friendship and Happiness from a Philosophical Perspective” in Friendship and Happiness ed. by Meliksah Demir (Springer, 2015). In addition, she has also co-edited and contributed to a number of books, including Conscience, Leadership and the Problem of 'Dirty Hands’ (REIO, 2015) and Faith and Reason: Vistas and Visions (Wipf & Stock, forthcoming 2020)

 

SEP
02

1286th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor John Rasko AO“The Dawn of Molecular Medicine—Gene Therapy: past, present and future”

Professor John Rasko AO
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Centenary Institute, University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 2 September 2020, 6.30pm AEST
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video recording: YouTube Video

Summary: Over the next five years a possible 900% increase in Gene and Stem Cell Therapy approvals has been forecast. The convergence of substantial incremental technical advances towards combined cell and gene therapy has led to improved clinical outcomes in immune deficiencies, haemoglobinopathies, blindness, immunotherapies and other inherited diseases. An audit of cell, tissue and gene products with marketing authorization in 2018 worldwide identified 44 unique products, 37 of them are cell and tissue therapies (84%) and mainly autologous (55%).

The challenge of realizing the full potential of genetic understanding has been vital in overcoming the hurdles of efficient gene therapy. Since the first human clinical trial using gene technology in 1989, there have been nearly 3,000 approved clinical trials worldwide. The overwhelming majority of human clinical trials involves short-term gene expression or random integration of a therapeutic gene. Emerging technologies require controlled development in compliance with safety, regulatory and GMP requirements.  More precise gene targeting tools were first described in the early 2000s. Targeted gene editing or replacement using Zinc Finger Nucleases or TALENS have been tested in about a dozen clinical trials since 2009. 

In parallel with objectively proven therapies, ‘stem cell tourism’ has become a billion dollar industry with increasing examples of false claims. Embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells have been mired in controversy and clinical development has been forestalled. We reported an analysis of the global distribution of more than 400 unique businesses marketing stem cell-based interventions. Many of these online entities promote clinical applications of ‘stem cells’ beyond present-day standards of care. These data should be of immediate concern to governments and ethicists being lobbied to amend laws governing the manufacture, distribution and clinical use of human cell-based medical products. Unregulated, untested or unsafe stem cell ‘therapies’ place the field at a difficult crossroad. Blurring the lines that distinguish evidence-based cell therapies from those that are not remains a fundamental public health concern.

Highlights in the clinical cell & gene therapy field will be discussed with special reference to haemophilia, thalassemia, graft versus host disease and cancer.

 Professor John Rasko is an Australian pioneer in the application of adult stem cells and genetic therapy. Since 1999 he has directed the Department of Cell and Molecular Therapies at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program at the Centenary Institute, University of Sydney. He is the President (2018-20) of the prominent International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy.

John Rasko is a clinical haematologist, pathologist and scientist with an international reputation in gene and stem cell therapy, experimental haematology and molecular biology. In over 160 publications he has contributed to the understanding of stem cells and blood cell development, gene therapy technologies, cancer causation and treatment, human genetic diseases and molecular biology.

He serves on hospital, state and national bodies including Chair of GTTAC, Office of the Gene Technology Regulator — responsible for regulating all genetically-modified organisms in Australia — and immediate past Chair of the Advisory Committee on Biologicals, Therapeutic Goods Administration. Contributions to scientific organisations include co-founding (2000) and past-President (2003-5) of the Australasian Gene & Cell Therapy Society; Vice President (2008-12) and President-Elect (2016-18) International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy; Scientific Advisory Committees and Board member for philanthropic foundations; and several Human Research Ethics Committees. He is a founding Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. In 2018, the Board of the ABC honoured him as the sixtieth Boyer Lecturer. He is the recipient of national (RCPA, RACP, ASBMB) and international awards in recognition of his commitment to excellence in medical research, including appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia.

AUG
20

Science Week 2020: The Periodic Table

Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert“The Periodic Table: ‘.. a medley of haphazard facts falling into line and order’ (C. P. Snow)”

Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert AM FRSN
Royal Society of NSW and UNSW Sydney

Date: Thursday, 20 August 2020, 6.00pm 
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video Presentation: YouTube video

The ancients had isolated and named around thirteen substances, mostly metals, not necessarily realising they were unique, chemically-indivisible ‘elements’. With the discovery of Oganesson (118 Og) we have completed the seventh row of the modern periodic table. In between, the science of Chemistry has been built on the discovery and manipulation of more and more of the elements that make up our world.

Periodic Table reduced

2019 was declared the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements, being the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the modern periodic table by Dmitri Mendeleev.

Brynn Hibbert will take a ramble through the table, re-telling great stories that have been collected by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute as part of its celebrations of Mendeleev’s discovery, and explaining just how we discover and name new elements. Hibbertium here we come!

No chemistry training is required by the audience but the talk does address the NSW Chemistry Stage 6 Syllabus Module 1: Periodicity with inquiry question “Are there patterns in the properties of elements?” and so might be of interest to schools.

Brynn Hibbert is a former, and now Emeritus, Professor of  Analytical Chemistry at UNSW. He is a go-to expert witness in the courts on matters chemical, particularly on drugs of abuse (in society and sports), although he has been known to do the occasional murder. As a member of committees of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)  he has been involved in the formal recognition process of new elements, his first  foray being Copernicium (element 112) and most recently Oganesson (118). In 2019 he won the first essay competition on ‘stories from the periodic table’ organised by the RACI with his tale of the discovery of iodine (and which will be re-told in his talk). Brynn is a Vice President of the RSNSW, and was President in 2016 – 2017.

AUG
20

Southern Highlands Branch Meeting 2020-6

Professor Toby Walsh“2062—The year that Artificial Intelligence (AI) made”

Professor Toby Walsh
Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence
UNSW Sydney and CSIRO Data61

Date: Thursday, 20 August 2020 
Venue: Via email circulation

 While pandemic restrictions on group activities prevail, the South Highlands Branch continues to send members information and summaries from our scheduled speakers.

Summary

Professor Walsh was due to present this lecture at the August meeting of the Southern Highlands Branch. In light of the current circumstances, this lecture has been replaced by recordings of two recent presentations he has made:

Professor Toby Walsh is Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales and Data61, a guest professor at theTechnical University of Berlin, and an adjunct professor at QUT. He was named by the Australian newspaper as one of the “rock stars” of Australia’s digital revolution. He is a strong advocate for limits to ensure AI is used to improve our lives. Professor Walsh has been a leading voice in the discussion about autonomous weapons (aka “killer robots”), speaking at the UN in New York and Geneva on the topic.

Professor Walsh is a Fellow of the Australia Academy of Science and a recipient of the NSW Premier’s Prize for Excellence in Engineering and ICT. He recently was made ARC Laureate Fellow. He appears regularly on TV and radio, and has authored two books on AI for a general audience, the most recent titled “2062: The World that AI Made”.

AUG
18

Science Week 2020: The COVID Curve in Context

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy“The COVID Curve in Context:  or Back to the Future—something old and something new”

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN
Royal Society of NSW and the University of Newcastle

Date: Tuesday, 18 August 2020, 6.00pm
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

Image Professor Clancy’s talk will address two issues: (a) the pattern of health in Australia, and how COVID-19 fits this pattern, and what we can learn from past pandemics in Australia; and (b) why old people die and young people “don’t turn a hair”, and how we can make our airways young again.  The talk will also consider why we don’t have a useful vaccine, and what we need to do, and can do, in the future to learn to live with COVID-19.

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy was the Foundation Professor of Pathology in the University of Newcastle Medical School and a clinical immunologist who undertook research in mucosal immunology and the development of mechanisms to enhance mucosal resistance and control mucosal inflammation. He has a strong involvement in the biotechnology of natural products that maximise mucosal immune competence, protecting against infection, and he maintains a clinic in gastroenterology focused on inflammatory bowel disease.

Professor Clancy also has strong, longstanding interests in histocartography relating to the discovery and development of Terra Australis, and the history of science and medicine, with a focus on epidemics. He has written five books on histocartography and is a regular speaker on maps—curating exhibitions and writing numerous articles on this topic.

AUG
05

1285th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Professor Peter Radoll“Growing Black Tall Poppies”

Professor Peter Radoll
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous)
University of Canberra

Date: Wednesday, 5 August 2020, 6.30pm
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video recording: YouTube video

How do the contradictions of success intersect with race, higher education and Indigenous cultural values?

We are at a time that doing the right thing now seems more important than considering the long-term future of our community. Governments are trying to meet Indigenous employment targets, by funnelling many of our potential best and brightest into government traineeships from year 11, taking them away from the opportunity pipeline of future university study. The competition to attract these students to universities results in letting them know that they do not have to obtain the best grades at school as there are other pathways designed just for them; a subtle message that you do not have to excel. This can become a demotivating factor for Indigenous students who ideally would be better suited to a degree that requires a top ATAR score, and one that they are capable of achieving.

Are these structures supporting our success, or stopping us from reaching our full potential? 

As new terms, such as ‘cyber feminism’ enter our lexicon in the era of gender politics, within our universities, 75% of all professors are male, yet the majority of Indigenous university leaders are female.  Female Indigenous university enrolments and completions out number Indigenous males two to one. 

As we take on these challenges and complexities,we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to capitalise on our ipseity.  As a Nation, by all of us embracing Indigenous culture, as the whole of our Australian history and story, we do not lose or give away something that we hold close. Instead, we all gain so much more knowledge and become richer for the embrace.

Professor Peter Radoll is a descendant of the Anaiwan people from the New England ranges area of Northern New South Wales.He is currently Professor of Information Technology and Pro-Vice Chancellor Indigenous at the University of Canberra. Peter is also Director of the Ngunnawal Centre at the University which provides support, training and study facilities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – a role dear to his heart.

Starting out his working life as a motor mechanic, Peter has gone on to well over ten years as a senior academic and leader in the higher education sector at the Australian National University, The University of Newcastle and the University of Canberra. Peter’s passion and commitment to Indigenous Higher Education is also evident in the roles he has outside the University. He is a Director on the Board of the Smith Family, the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre (AILC), and a Member of the Advisory Group for the CSIRO Indigenous Girls’ STEM Academy.

Royal Society Events

The Royal Society of NSW organizes events in Sydney and in its Branches throughout the year. 

In Sydney, these include Ordinary General Meetings (OGMs) held normally at 6.00 for 6.30 pm on the first Wednesday of the month (there is no meeting in January), in the Gallery Room at the State Library of NSW. At the OGMs, society business is conducted, new Fellows and Members are inducted, and reports from Council are given.  This is followed by a public lecture presented by an eminent expert and an optional dinner.  Drinks are served before the meeting.  There is a small charge to attend the meeting and lecture, and to cover refreshments.  The dinner is a separate charge, and must be booked in advance.  All OGMs are open to members of the public.

Since April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face meetings have been replaced by virtual meetings, conducted as Zoom webinars, allowing the events program to continue uninterrupted.  It is hoped that face-to-face meetings can be resumed in early 2021. 

The first OGM of  the year, held in February, has speakers drawn from the winners of the Royal Society Scholarships from the previous year, while the December OGM hears from the winner of the Jak Kelly award, before an informal Christmas party.  The April or May event is our black-tie Annual Dinner and Distinguished Fellow lecture.

Other events are held in collaboration with other groups, including:

  • The Four Societies lecture — with the Australian Institute of Energy, the Nuclear Panel of Engineers Australia (Sydney Division), and the Australian Nuclear Association
  • The Forum — the Australian Academy of Science, with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
  • The Dirac lecture — with UNSW Sydney and the Australian Institute of Physics
  • The Liversidge Medal lecture — with the Royal Australian Chemical Institute

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