Keynote Address

Professor Mark Post

Mosa Meat

Known as the “father of cultured meat”, Professor Mark Post is the scientist behind the world’s first slaughter-free hamburger. His background is in medicine, where as a doctor and researcher he worked on tissue engineering for vascular grafts. He has served as Assistant Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Associate Professor of Medicine and Physiology at Dartmouth Medical School and Professor of Angiogenesis in Tissue Engineering at the Technical University Eindhoven. From 2004 until 2019 he was the Chair of Physiology at Maastricht University. Mark was introduced to cultured meat in 2006 when he joined a Dutch government-funded program investigating its potential. Excited by the huge benefits for society, Mark made it his mission to change the way meat is produced. He co-founded Mosa Meat at Brightlands, and as Chief Science Officer is working on optimising our products, scaling up production, and bringing the cost down to supermarket levels as soon as possible.

Infectious Diseases: COVID19 Spotlight Plenary Address

Professor Kanta Subbarao

WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza

Professor Kanta Subbarao is the Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza and Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Melbourne at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. She is a virologist and a physician with specialty training in paediatrics and paediatric infectious diseases. Prior to her arrival in Melbourne, she was a senior scientist at the US National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the years, Dr. Subbarao’ s research has focused on newly emerging viral diseases of global importance including seasonal and pandemic influenza, SARS, MERS and now, SARS-CoV-2. Her current research efforts are directed at understanding the biology and immune responses to influenza viruses and vaccines and COVID-19. She is an internationally recognised leader in the field of emerging respiratory viruses and is a member of the American Society of Microbiology, American Society for Virology and Australasian Virology Society and Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. She serves on the Editorial Board of PLoS Pathogens, mBio and Cell Host and Microbe. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been invited to serve on international panels on animal models and vaccine safety (CEPI, WHO and American Society for Microbiology).

Translating Science Plenary Address

A/Professor Nicholas Opie

Royal Melbourne Hospital

Associate Professor Nicholas Opie was employed as the Surgical Program Coordinator on Bionic Vision Australia’s retinal prosthesis project, and was integral in development and preclinical validation of the technology designed to restore rudimentary vision to the profoundly blind. This device was implanted in three patients in 2012 with great success. In 2012, A/Prof Opie was awarded a $1.33M grant from US defence organization DARPA to develop a minimally invasive brain machine interface. This funding, and subsequent funding totaling more than $15.5M has enabled Dr Opie to establish and co-lead the Vascular Bionics Laboratory within the Department of Medicine at The University of Melbourne; a laboratory which has grown to support more than 35 graduate and undergraduate researchers. He is leading the research team conducting preclinical safety and efficacy trials on a device capable of recording neural information from within a blood vessel, which may enable direct brain control of wheelchairs, exoskeletons and computers to people with paralysis. Dr Opie is a Founding Director and CTO of Synchron, a company incorporated to translate endovascular bionic technology into clinical application.

Computational Biology Plenary Address

Professor Alicia Oshlack

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Professor Alicia Oshlack has been at the forefront of bioinformatics research for more than 15 years. She has recently started a new role as the (co)Head of the Computational Biology Program at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre after leading the Bioinformatics group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute for more than 8 years. She is best known for her large body of work on transcriptional analysis and epigenetics. In addition, Oshlack is internationally recognised for her development of bioinformatics methods for a range of applications including single cell RNA-seq, methylation and genomic analysis. Oshlack is involved in many cutting edge collaborative projects related to disease and development. She has published more than 90 papers and developed more than a dozen software packages. Oshlack has been recognised by several awards including the Australian Academy of Science, Gani Medal for Human Genetics (2011) and the Georgina Sweet Award for Women in Quantitative Biomedical research (2016).

Molecular Cell Biology Plenary Address

Professor Melissa Little

Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Professor Melissa Little, BSc PhD GAICD, FAAHMS, FAAS is the Theme Director of Cell Biology at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. She is internationally recognised for her work on the systems biology of kidney development. For more than two decades, her work has investigated the molecular and cellular basis of kidney development and disease. This fundamental research has underpinned her pioneering studies into potential regenerative therapies for kidney disease. As a result, her team have developed approaches for directing the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to human kidney organoids. Her group are applying this knowledge to disease modelling, drug screening, cell therapy and tissue engineering. Professor Little is an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow at MCRI, Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia and Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne. Melissa is President Elect of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and immediate past President of Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research. A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, Professor Little’s work has been recognised by many awards, including the GlaxoSmithKline Award for Research Excellence (2005), AAS Gottschalk Medal in Medical Sciences (2004), Eisenhower Fellowship (2006), ANZSCDB Presidents Medal (2015), Boerhaave Professorship, Leiden University (2015), UNSW Eureka Prize (2016) and the NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship Biomedical (2018), Honorary Doctorate, Leiden University (2019), the prestigious Alfred Newton Richards Award (2019), and the Julian Wells Medal (2020).

Cancer Plenary Address

Professor Vanessa M. Hayes

Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Professor Vanessa M. Hayes is the Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer Research at the University of Sydney, Head and Professor of the Laboratory for Human Comparative and Prostate Cancer Genomics at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Her research interest is in understanding the extent of human genome variation and its relevance to defining human health disparities, with a focus on prostate cancer genomics. As such her focus has taken her to Africa with the greatest within continental human genome variation and significant prostate cancer disparity. Driven by advances in genome technologies, from the earliest mutation detection methods, to the first applications of next generation sequencing technologies, more recently her team has been combining whole genome sequencing with next generation optical mapping (Bionano Genomics) to identify complex structural genomic rearrangements of particular significance to advance precision medicine for prostate cancer.

Regenerative Biology Plenary Address

Doctor Anai Gonzalez Cordero

Children's Medical Research Institute

Doctor Anai Gonzalez Cordero is a Group Leader of the Stem Cell Medicine team and also the manager for the Stem Cell & Organoid Facility. She gained her degree in Developmental Biology in 2008 from University College London (UCL). In 2012, she was awarded a PhD in retinal regeneration from the prestigious Wellcome Trust-sponsored PhD Programme in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology. Her thesis entitled “Retinal repair using embryonic stem cell-derived photoreceptor precursors”, established proof of concept for stem cell therapy as a treatment for blindness due to retinal degeneration. In 2015, she was awarded a UCL Sensory Therapies Fellowship to develop stem cells models to study retinal and auditory cell development in Usher syndrome at the Institute of Ophthalmology and the Ear Institute. In March 2019, Anai joined CMRI to establish and run the Stem Cell & Organoid Facility and to develop her independent research program to continue her work on in vitro models of retinal and auditory organoids (mini-organs in the dish) derived from stem cells.

Immunology Plenary Address

Professor David J. Lynn

South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute

Professor David Lynn has an international track record (having worked in Canada, Ireland and Australia) in applying computational and experimental systems biology approaches to investigate the immune system and more recently, cancer. Following a PhD in computational immunology at University College Dublin and a postdoctoral position in population immunogenomics at Trinity College Dublin, he moved to Vancouver (SFU & UBC) where he was the lead computational biologist on a Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative project investigating how to modulate the innate immune response to several pathogens of major importance to global health. Since 2014, David is a European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Australia Group Leader at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). EMBL Australia Group Leader positions are prestigious positions (only 15 awarded in Australia) which come with up to 9 years of funding for the group. In 2019, David was promoted to Director of the Computational and Systems Biology Program at SAHMRI, one of the 16 Programs/Divisions in the Institute. He also holds a full academic faculty position as Professor at the Flinders University School of Medicine.

Q&A PANEL DISCUSSION – Pathways in a challenging climate

Doctor Carlos Salomon Gallo

University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research

Doctor Carlos Salomon Gallo is a Group Leader at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR) and he is internationally recognized for his work in the field of extracellular vesicles (exosomes). He completed his PhD at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and in 2015 he created his own group, the Exosome Biology Laboratory (UQCCR). His lab investigates the release and role of exosomes by the placenta and tumor cells during gestation and cancer progression, and evaluates their clinical utility as biomarkers of disease and therapeutic intervention. In UQCCR, Dr Gallo also held a leadership role in establishing the Centre for Clinical Diagnostics (CCD) to develop, evaluate and deliver In Vitro Diagnostics within a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited research. In only four years, during the period 2011-2016, he has been author of more than 50 journal publications, he has been awarded a Lions Medical Research Fellowship (2015) and he is consistently invited as a speaker to both National and International meetings.

Doctor Martin Engel

Inventia Life Science

Doctor Martin Engel is the Lead Scientistic at Inventia Life Science (ILS), an Australian company for advanced medical research, established in Sidney in 2013. At ILS, Dr Engel guides the development of RASTRUM, a platform to create 3D cell models for accelerated drug discovery and biomedical research through the power of digital bioprinting. He gained extensive expertise in developing and using 3D tissue cultures and stem-cell derived organoids during his previous work at NeuroSearch A/S, at the University of Wollongong where he pursued his PhD (2014), and as post-doc at IDE, where he still is a Honorary Fellow. Dr Engel is also widely connected with the Australian and International biomedical community, aiming at improving the next generation preclinical discoveries.

Doctor Bianca Le

Cellular Agriculture Australia

Doctor Bianca Le is a cell biologist and science communicator who is passionate about the capacity of science to do good. She recently got her PhD at the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University and is now utilising her expertise in cell biology to help develop food more sustainably in the emerging field of cellular agriculture. She is the Director of Cellular Agriculture Australia, a non-profit dedicated to promoting and accelerating R&D in the cellular agriculture industry. As science communicator, Bianca is experienced in giving public talks, speaking on radio and publishing articles on various topics including science policy, diversity in STEM, ecology, biomedicine and agricultural technology. She also contributed to various policy projects spanning women in STEM, waste management, and science diplomacy at the Academy of Technology and Engineering.

Doctor Sarah Stephenson

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Doctor Sarah Stephenson is a molecular biologist and team leader within the Neurogenetics group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). Sarah has expertise in using advanced genomic technologies including targeted deep sequencing and high throughput single cell RNAseq to study malformation of brain development. Ultimately Sarah’s goal is to identify and develop targeted medical therapies for paediatric brain disorders to then take back to the patient in the form of clinical trials. To achieve this goal, Sarah works with a multidisciplinary clinical and laboratory research team at MCRI and was awarded two MCRI 2019 Awards, for Professional Development and Discovery. In the same year, 2019, she was also awarded of an NHMRC Ideas grant and two additional Project funding. Her extraordinary commitment sees three Honorary Fellow Affiliations with the University of Melbourne, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health Research. Sarah is also actively supporting initiatives to promote diversity in science. She is the Founding Director of QueersInScience. Her contribution has been recognized with two Victorian Government Pride Events and Festival 2019-20 grants and a Theo Murphy Award from the Australian Academy of Science in 2019 to Establish a National LGBTQIA+ STEMM Network.