Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events
FEB
07

1261st OGM and open lecture

“Precision healthcare – the coming revolution in medicine”

Leslie Burnett

  Professor Leslie Burnett
  Chief Medical Officer of Genome One
  Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Wednesday 7 March 2018
Union, University & Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Medicine has entered a period of major transformation. Advances in DNA sequencing have led to an explosion in data, information and knowledge about how the genes in our genome work. In turn, this is opening new avenues for diagnosis and treatment of both rare and common disorders. Leslie gave a brief refresher overview of genetics and genomics, including the range of genetic tests available culminating in whole genome analysis. This analysis is now available in Australia, and Australia is at the forefront of the world. Examples were given of the application of genomic techniques to “precision medicine”, where a person’s genetic makeup is used to target treatments based on their specific needs. The era of preventative medicine and precision healthcare has arrived, but it will be accompanied with the need to recognise and responsibly address some complex ethical and societal issues.

Professor Leslie Burnett is Chief Medical Officer of Genome.One, in the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Leslie has pioneered the development of many pathology and genetics initiatives, including being a Medical Director for the accreditation of Australasia’s first Whole Genome Sequencing laboratory and founding Australia’s first Community Genetics program.

He is a clinical pathologist with experience in both the public and private health sectors, and is a recipient of many awards for business and technical excellence, service excellence and community service. He has served as ministerial appointee, chairman, or president of a number of national and international bodies in pathology and genetics.

Professor Burnett is Conjoint Professor at the St Vincent’s Clinical School, UNSW Australia, Honorary Professor in Pathology and Genetic Medicine in the Sydney Medical School, and has been an Honorary Associate of the School of Information Technologies, at the University of Sydney. His current interests are in the areas of genomic pathology, genetic screening, bioinformatic modelling of population genetics and cell biology processes, and quality assurance. He is a passionate teacher and communicator about the genetics and genomics revolution.

FEB
06

Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library

Paul Brunton

  Paul Brunton OAM
  Emeritus Curator 
  State Library of NSW

Thursday 1 March 2018
Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney

The penal colony of New South Wales was a child of the Enlightenment. It was founded on the belief in personal improvement and progress. It was not a dumping ground for convicts but an experiment in Enlightenment values. Libraries could play a key role in the moral and intellectual improvement of the individual. This talk will discuss the foundations of four libraries: Australian Subscription Library and Reading Room [now the State Library of New South Wales] (1826), Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts Library (1833), Evandale [Tasmania] Subscription Library (1847), and the Melbourne Public Library [now State Library of Victoria] (1854), and the Enlightenment values which guided their founders.

Paul Brunton OAM, FAHA is Emeritus Curator, State Library of New South Wales. He worked with the Mitchell Library’s Australiana collections for 40 years and was Curator of Manuscripts from 1986 to 2001 and Senior Curator from 2002-2012. Paul has published on archives administration and on various aspects of the State Library’s collection. He was President of the Australian Society of Archivists, 1991-1993. He was curator of the exhibition Matthew Flinders: the Ultimate Voyage which opened at the State Library in 2001, and traveled nationally during 2002-2003. His annotated edition of Flinders’ letters, Matthew Flinders: personal letters from an extraordinary life, was published in 2002.

This is the fourth in a series of lectures on the theme “Is the Enlightenment dead?” being co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

Lecture 1: “Samuel Pepys, his library and the Enlightenment” by Susannah Fullerton FRSN, on 4 September 2017

Lecture 2: “The freedom to use one's own intelligence: the Enlightenment and the growth of the Australian nation” by Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN, on 6 November 2017

Lecture 3: "Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum” Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO, Australian Museum, on 5 February  2018

Lecture 5: Sophistry: “Global deflation: the Enlightenment has failed!” by Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO FRSN, on 5 April 2018

JAN
02

Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum

Kim McKay Enlightenment 3  

  Kim McKay AO
  Director and CEO
  The Australian Museum

Monday 5 February 2018
Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney

This was the third in a series of lectures on the theme “Is the Enlightenment dead?” being co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, talked about the Museum’s 190-year history and its evolution as an expression of the Enlightenment.

The Australian Museum, along with its sister museums in Victoria and South Australia, was a major focus of the intellectual life of colonial Australia and at the forefront of contemporary science and natural history research. Kim also described the Museum’s recent transformation during her tenure as Director and CEO, and the challenges that lie ahead, particularly visitation, digitisation and international collaboration and why Museums will continue to play an important role in shaping society.

Other talks in the series:

Lecture 1: “Samuel Pepys, his library and the Enlightenment” by Susannah Fullerton, on 4 September 2017

Lecture 2: “The freedom to use one's own intelligence: the Enlightenment and the growth of the Australian nation” by Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN, on 6 November 2017

Lecture 4: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library” by Paul Brunton OAM Emeritus Curator, State Library of NSW, on 1 March 2018

Lecture 5: Sophistry: “Global deflation: the Enlightenment has failed!” by Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO FRSN, on 5 April 2018

JAN
03

1260th OGM and open lecture

Royal Society of NSW Scholarship Award Winners for 2018

Grace Causer, Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials, University of Wollongong
Yu-wei Lin, Advanced Drug Delivery Group, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney
Cara Van Der Wal, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney

Wednesday 7 February 2018
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Royal Society of NSW Scholarships
The Royal Society of New South Wales Scholarships recognise outstanding achievements by individuals working towards a research degree in a science-related field within New South Wales or the Australian Capital Territory. Each year three scholarships of $500 plus and a complimentary year of membership of the Society are awarded. The award winners give talks about their research at the first OGM and Public Lecture each year.

 Grace causer 
 “Uncovering hidden nanoscale worlds
    with neutrons”

  Grace Causer
  University of Wollongong and
  Australian Nuclear Science and Technology
  Organisation

For decades, neutrons have been used to probe almost all kinds of matter to unveil hidden characteristics, such as, the dynamics of chemical reactions, the performance of engineering components under strain, and the properties of low-dimensional systems. By reflecting polarised neutrons off layered structures, scientists have been able to gain unique insights into magnetic surfaces and ultra-thin films. Fundamentally, scientific insights gained from neutron scattering have been, and will continue to be, important for the development of future thin-film-based technologies. For example, giant magnetoresistive structures, for which Albert Fert and Peter Gruenberg won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics, have revolutionised computer technology. In this talk, In her talk Grace discussed a number of prototype thin-film devices which she has investigated as part of her PhD research. Specifically, the interface physics of an exemplar high-density magnetic recording device formed by ion-beam irradiation, and a magnetic thin-film sensor designed to act as a safety switch in next-generation vehicles powered by hydrogen, will be discussed.

 ****

Wayne Lin small
  “Developing new ways to treat ‘superbugs’
   using old antibiotics: Are we there yet?”

  Yu-wei (Wayne) Lin
  Advanced Drug Delivery Group
  Faculty of Pharmacy 
  University of Sydney

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health globally. Multidrug-resistant (MDR) Pseudomonas aeruginosa is at the top of the 2017 World Health Organisation Priority Pathogen List that requires the utmost need for novel antibiotics. MDR P. aeruginosa often causes life-threatening lung infections particularly in immune-compromised patients such as those with cystic fibrosis. As no novel classes of antibiotics will be available for many years to come, polymyxins, a class of ‘old’ antibiotics, are being increasingly used as a last-line therapy for lung infections caused by MDR P. aeruginosa. Over the last decade, inhalation of polymyxins has become a complementary practice for treating life-threatening lung infections. Notably, currently used inhalational dosage regimens of polymyxins are empirical, and this is likely a cause for the increased polymyxin resistance. Yu-wei described the overarching theme of his PhD research, which is to investigate the pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics/toxicodynamics of inhaled polymyxins, to maximise antimicrobial efficacy while minimising toxicity and emergence of resistance.

****

Cara Van der Wal small
  “Reconstructing the phylogeny and evolutionary
   history of mantis shrimps using molecular data”

  Cara Van Der Wal
  School of Life and Environmental Sciences
  University of Sydney

Mantis shrimps (Crustacea: Stomatopoda) are ecologically and often economically significant crustaceans, being dominant predators in many coastal ecosystems and serving as an important fisheries resource. They are a highly specialised rather than highly diversified lineage, with highly modified hunting appendages and sophisticated vision. Despite these unique attributes much remains unknown about stomatopod systematics, evolution and phylogeny. To fill this knowledge gap, I used molecular sequence data to estimate the phylogeny and evolutionary timescale of the group. Her research results show that Stomatopoda appeared in the Carboniferous and that the specialised spearing appendage evolved prior to the specialised smashing appendage. Additionally, the results showed that morphological complexity within stomatopod eyes has reduced independently in different lineages, and that this reduction might be linked to the environment. The results have significantly added to the knowledge of stomatopod evolution and diversification, suggesting systematic revisions may be required.

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Details of events scheduled for the remainder of the current year by the Southern Highlands branch can be found on its website.

Details of past events held by the Southern Highlands branch can be found here.

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