Medical Bionics & Visualising Immunity: The 2018 Medal for Research Excellence

The 2018 RSV Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research: Lecture, Award & Dinner

Two high achieving Medallists, two great talks! Come learn about the outstanding work of this year’s recipients of the RSV Medal for Excellence in Scientific ResearchProfessors Anthony Burkitt and Jamie Rossjohn, who will be presented with their Medals by Her Excellency the Governor of Victoria earlier in the evening.

Visualising Immunity: Up Close and Personal

Following on from Leeuwenhoek’s development of the microscope in the 17th century, scientists over the ensuing decades have been able to look into the world of microbes and cells. Professor Jamie Rossjohn‘s laboratory uses a very powerful “microscope”, namely the Australian Synchrotron, to visualise immunity.

The immune system is vital for our survival. It protects us from pathogens, such as Influenza. Sometimes the immune system goes wrong, and causes disease, including autoimmunity and allergies. Professor Rossjohn’s laboratory has provided insight into the function and dysfunction underpinning the human immune system, and he will touch upon these findings.

Medical Bionics and the Quest to Restore Hearing and Sight

Medical bionics offers the possibility to people with profound sensory impairments, such as blindness and deafness, for the restoration of these faculties. This can lead to an improved quality of life for patients with degenerative neural conditions that arise through disease, accident or genetics.

Recent developments in medical bionics and the challenges associated with providing clinically safe and commercially competitive technologies to provide functional everyday benefits to patients will be presented by Professor Anthony Burkitt. These issues will be illustrated by the Bionic Vision Australia research program, which has developed a fully implantable retinal prosthesis, based upon a successful prototype study with three patients.

About the speakers:

Professor Anthony Burkitt holds the Chair in Bio-Signals and Bio-Systems in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne since 2007. His research encompasses a number of areas of medical bionics and neuroscience, including neuroengineering, computational neuroscience, retinal-implant vision processing, cochlear-implant speech processing and bio-signal processing for epilepsy. His research has made significant contributions to understanding the behaviour and function of the brain and it has also been instrumental in the development of visual stimulation paradigms for retinal implants, new cochlear implant speech processing strategies, methods for detecting and predicting seizures, and the use of electrical stimulation for seizure abatement in epilepsy.

He was the Director of Bionic Vision Australia (2010-2016), a Special Research Initiative in Bionic Vision Science and Technology of the Australian Research Council (ARC), and he successfully led the project though all of its phases: Project conception, securing $50million in ARC funding, the research and development programs that led to the development of a prototype bionic eye (suprachoroidal retinal implant), the successful implantation in three patients, and the establishment of the company Bionic Vision Technologies (BVT) with US$18million of venture capital for the ongoing commercial and clinical development of the technology.

Professor Jamie Rossjohn is known for his contributions to the understanding the molecular basis underpinning immunity. He has used structural biology to explain pre-T-cell receptor (TCR) self-association in T-cell development, and how the TCR specifically recognises polymorphic Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) molecules in the context of viral immunity and aberrant T-cell reactivity. He has unearthed structural mechanisms of HLA polymorphism impacting on drug and food hypersensitivities, as well as Natural Killer cell receptor recognition. He has pioneered our molecular understanding of lipid-based immunity by T cells, revealing that it can differ fundamentally from peptide-mediated adaptive immunity. Recently he has provided a structural basis of how vitamin B metabolites can be presented and recognised by the immune system, revealing a new class of antigen. Collectively, he has published more than 365 papers and mentored numerous researchers towards obtaining higher degrees and nationally competitive fellowships.

He is currently an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow (2017-2021) and was previously an NHMRC Australia Fellow (2011-2016) and ARC Federation Fellow (2007-11). He is the Head of the Infection and Immunity Program of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.

Medallists’ Dinner

We are delighted to invite RSV members and their guests to attend the 2018 Medallists’ Dinner, our annual gathering to be hosted by the Society’s President, Mr David Zerman in the Burke and Wills Room, following the talks from and presentations to Professor Rossjohn and Professor Burkitt.

Registrations for the dinner include admission to the Research Medal Presentation and Lecture. Please join us for a convivial evening of celebration for science in Victoria and a reflection on the generative work of our Society in 2018. Tickets are inclusive of a three course, seated, plated meal with beverages.