Championing Translation & Commercialisation of Australian Medical Research

Australia has a vibrant medical technology and pharmaceutical (MTP) sector, recognised globally for its excellence and innovation. With nearly 1,300 companies and an exceptionally skilled workforce of 68,000 across industry and research, the MTP sector is a major contributor to the Australian economy. Dr Rebecca Tunstall, Senior Director of Stakeholder Engagement at MTPConnect, leads collaborative teams to drive connectivity, innovation and productivity in this sector. Rebecca outlined emerging “megatrends” that will ‘reshape our world in the next 10-50 years.’ Digital evolution is central to them all, allowing the rapid exchange of information, advances in genomic sequencing and big data collection to support precision medicine, and integrated care models with artificial intelligence and robotics. She wants to see Australia at the forefront, revolutionising healthcare with these emerging technologies.

The Phoenix Schools Program: resurrecting lab equipment for the next generation of scientists

During Andrew Gray’s efforts in setting up BioQuisitive, he realised a large amount of old but otherwise high-quality scientific equipment was being consigned to landfill from professional laboratories. Joining forces with Samuel Wines, the Phoenix School Program was born. Within a month, they had already diverted over $100,000 in donated equipment from the tip to a redistribution facility. The donated equipment is now destined to be repurposed at low-socioeconomic high schools and their students to foster their science education. Samuel’s vision for the program is to create an online portal that, in addition to an inventory of lab equipment on offer for schools, showcases citizen science projects, STEM-based jobs and businesses available for the next generation of scientists. Partnering with programs such as BioQuisitive and Science for All, they will encourage students to participate in curriculum-mapped citizen science projects to work directly with scientists.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

In 2015 the United Nations General Assembly declared 11th February as a day to celebrate, recognise and encourage women and girls in STEM fields around the world! This initiative hopes that increased visibility will strengthen interest and support for the next generation of girls who want develop their passions for science. The Royal Society of Victoria and the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Victoria organised a free streaming event designed to engage and inspire young girls interested in science, featuring Dr Muneera Bano, Associate Professor Misty Jenkins and Dr Amy Coetsee as they tell their stories into STEM. Joined by Dr Gillian Sparkes, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Dr Amanda Caples, Victoria’s Lead Scientist, and Dr Andrea Hinwood, Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist. Read about this brilliant event and the insights that these esteemed women in STEM were able to give to the next generation.

The Science Behind Sexuality and Gender

Human sexuality and gender expression is a continuum, much in the same way that height and weight are. Not everyone fits into the categories of strictly straight, strictly gay, male or female. Dichotomising sexuality and gender ignores the continuum or clusters of individuals who don’t fall into one of two (and only two) categories and we can fall prey to thinking that one is “normal”. While people may find comfort in the “born this way” argument, looking for a “gay gene” can indicate a level of non-acceptance. If the variation between individuals is collapsed to a binary then the focus becomes on asking why one end of the spectrum exists, when the better question would be to ask how variation in sexuality evolved and came about.

The Bogong Moth Population Puzzle

An iconic species of the Australian Alps, the mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus) is found in a unique and fragile habitat that is highly sensitive to environmental change. Habitat conservation and genetic rescue-based conservation efforts have allowed some populations to rebound, but the possum is facing new threats, and the species remains Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Bogong moth, a key food source in the mountain pygmy possum diet, has declined in recent years. Efforts to understand Bogong moth biology are underway.