Leaders in Science and Society seminar program

Our Leaders in Science and Society seminars program features renowned Australian and international specialists from a variety of organisations. The seminars are intended to engage, educate and inspire our researchers. 

Leaders in science and society


18 February
Prof Matthew Ellis
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston USA

11 March
Prof David Thomas
Head, Cancer Division, Garvan Institute of Medical Research; Director of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre

18 March
Mr Robyn Williams AM

1 April
Prof John Rasko
Centenary Institute

8 April
Dr Tim Mercer
Lab Head, Transcriptomic Research, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

15 April
Prof Anushka Patel
Chief Scientist, The George Institute for Global Health

29 April
Prof Edward Holmes
Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Disease & Biosecurity, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney

6 May
Prof Bryan Williams
Hudson Institute of Medical Research

13 May
Prof Anthony Kelleher
Immunovirology and Pathogenesis Program, The Kirby Institute

3 June
Prof Vanessa Hayes
Lab Head, Human Comparative & Prostate Cancer Genomics, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

17 June
A/Prof Daniel MacArthur
Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT

24 June
Prof John Shine
Lab Head, Molecular Genetics of Inherited Kidney Disorders, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

1 July
Mr Aiden Sarsfield
Head of Production Technology, Animal Logic

5 August
A/Prof Shane Grey
Lab Head, Transplantation Immunology, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

12 August
Prof Sean O'Donoghue
Lab Head, BioVis Centre, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

19 August
Prof Donna Farber
Chief, Division of Surgical Sciences and Professor of Microiology and Immunology, Columbia University NY

26 August
Dr Robert Weatheritt
Lab Head, Neurotranscriptomics, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

2 September
Dr Axel Timmermann
Director, IBS Center for Climate Physics (ICCP), Pusan National University

9 September
Prof Fiona Wood
Director, Burns Service of WA

16 September
Dr Vishva Dixit
Genentech, USA

23 September
Dr Ozren Bogdanovic
Lab Head, Developmental Epigenomics, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

14 October
Prof Nalini Joshi
School of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney

21 October
Prof Bruce Neal
Deputy Executive Director, George Institute Australia

28 October
Dr Marina Pajic
Lab Head, Personalised Cancer Therapeutics, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

4 November
Dr Christine Chaffer
Lab Head, Cancer Cell Plasticity, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

11 November
Dr Drew Berry
Biomedical Animator, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Previous seminars

  • 2018
  • 2017
  • 2016

26 November
Dr Jason Vassy 'Determining the clinical utility of genomic medicine in primary care'
Section of General Internal Medicine, VA Boston Healthcare System; Division of General Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital; Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School

19 November
A/Prof Tara Murphy 'Breakthrough! The detection of gravitational waves from a neutron star merger'
Sydney Institute for Astronomy, University of Sydney

5 November
Prof Katherine Kedzierska 'Universal CD8+ T cell immunity to influenza viruses across human life-span and tissue compartments
Head, Human T cell Immunity Laboratory, University of Melbourne

29 October 
Prof John O’Sullivan, 'Refining Cardiometabolic Disease' 
Group Leader in Cardiometabolic Disease at the Heart Research Institute and Charles Perkins Centre of the University of Sydney

22 October
Prof Kathryn North AM, 'Genomics and the Brave New World of Personalised Medicine: A Global and Local Perspective'
Director, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

15 October         
Dr Jacky Goetz  'Tracking tumor metastasis at high spatio-temporal resolution
Group Lead, Tumor Biomechanics, CR1 INSERM

24 September
Prof Rob Brink 'The Germinal Centre - A Drama in Two Parts
Lab Head, Immunology Garvan Institute of Medical Research

17 September
Prof Jonathan Baell, 'Forays in Drug Discovery'
Larkins Fellow, Director of the Australian Translational Medicinal Chemistry Facility, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences

10 September
Prof David James, 'Systems Biology, Precision Medicine and Metabolic Disease'
Leonard P. Ullmann Chair of Metabolic Systems Biology, Charles Perkins Centre; Professor, School of Life & Environmental Sciences and Sydney Medical School 

27 August
Prof Axel Kallies 'Molecular control of T cell differentiation in chronic infections and cancer'
Laboratory Head, Molecular Immunology, WEHI, Melbourne


20 August
Dr Peter Tontonoz 'Transcriptional control of lipid homeostasis in physiology and disease'
Professor and the Francis and Albert Piansky Endowed Chair in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UCLA Los Angeles, USA

13 August
Prof Jamie Rossjohn 'Immune sensing of Vitamin B metabolites'
Head, Infection and Immunity Program, Monash University

6 August 
Dr Chris Armstrong 'A science informed society: the role of governments and scientists'
Acting NSW Chief Scientist

25 July
Dr Carlos L Arteaga 'Resistance to antiestrogens in ER+ breast cancer: Insights from bedside to bench'
Director, UT Southwestern Cancer Center

2 July
Prof Jonathon Howard 'Motor proteins, Microtubules and Morphogenesis'
Co-Director, Yale Quantitative Biology Institute, Yale University


26 June
Dr Lee Rubin 'New Ways of Analysing and Treating Nervous System Disorders'
Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Harvard University USA


18 June
Prof Elizabeth Hartland 'Pathogen blockade of cell death'
Director and CEO, Hudson Institute of Medical Research


 28 May
Dr Janet Iwasa “Animating Molecular Biology”
Research Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, University of Utah


14 May
Prof Maree Teesson "Pathways to prevention: Preventing the harms associated with alcohol and drug use in young Australians"
Director, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW  

7 May
Prof Ricky Johnstone "Identification of epigenetic and genetic regulators of anti-tumour immunity"
Head of Gene Regulation Laboratory, PeterMac Cancer Centre Melbourne 


30 April 
A/Prof Paul Timpson "Insights into tumour biology and drug targeting using Intravital biosensors imaging"
Lab Head – Invasion and Metastasis, Garvan Institute of Medical Research


23 April
Prof Susan Clark "Beyond genomics: reflecting on the past, present and future"
NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow. Head of Division of Genomics and Epigenetics, Garvan Institute of Medical Research


16 April: “Decoding the functional roles of genetic variants in complex phenotypes
A/Prof Justin O’Sullivan 
Senior Research Fellow, Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, New Zealand


9 April
Prof Paul Zimmet  "The global epidemic of type 2 diabetes: famine, feast & early life origins of chronic diseases"
Professor of Diabetes, Monash University Melbourne


19 March
Prof Deborah Schofield
: "Economics of Genomics: what do we know and where are going?"
Professor and Chair, Health Economics. Director, GenIMPACT: Centre for Economic and Social Impacts of Genomic Medicine, Macquarie University Sydney


4 December
Professor Sharon Lewin (Nadine Watson Lecture)
Director, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne


27 November
Professor Peter Croucher 

Division Head - Bone Biology, Garvan Institute
"A Zoologist’s Guide to Bone and Cancer"


13 November
Professor James Whisstock

Director, ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, Scientific Head, EMBL Australia, NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University
                         "Structural studies on the perforin-like family of pore forming immune effectors"


30 October
Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman 
Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney
"Wind Turbine Syndrome a communicated disease"


23 October
Professor Peter Jones
VARI Chief Scientific Officer, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Epigenetics
"Improving Epigenetic Therapy with Oranges and Aza"


16 October
Hon Jillian Skinner
Previous Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research
"Research is not an optional extra when it comes to improving health care"


  9 October
Professor Seth Grant
Professor of Molecular Neuroscience, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, Edinburgh University
"The synaptic organization of the brain"


 18 September
Professor Aleksandra Filipovska

NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, The University of Western Australia School of Molecular Sciences and The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
                          "Genomic and functional regulation of energy metabolism in health and disease"


11 September
Professor Alan Cooper
Director, Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, University of Adelaide
"Prehistomics: Using Ancient Genomes, Epigenomes, and Microbiomes to study the evolutionary impacts of rapid environmental change" 


4 September
Professor Michelle Simmons
Director, Centre for Quantum Computational & Communication Technology, UNSW Sydney
"The development of a silicon-based quantum computer"


28 August
Mr Scott Farquahr
CEO, Atlassian
Fireside Chat with Scott Farquhar


21 August
Professor Adrian Liston
Professor of Translational Immunology, University of Leuven
"Shaping the human immune system"


14 August
Dr Scott Watkins
KISCO, Pollinate Energy and parkrun Australia
“From Research to Social Enterprise and Industry: chemistry, solar panels, startups and Korea”


7 August
Professor Robert Graham
Head of Cardiac Receptor Biology Laboratory, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute
“Thyroid hormone: master regulator of growth, development and metabolism – a cardiac perspective”


31 July
Professor Mark Febbraio 
Division Head - Diabetes and Metabolism, Garvan Institute
“From Jock to Doc and back: Why exercise IS medicine!”


24 July
Professor Ada Yonath
Weizmann Institute of Science
“Next generation environmentally friendly antibiotics”


19 June
Professor David Thomas
Director - The Kinghorn Cancer Centre, Division Head - Cancer, Garvan Institute
“Cancer: past, present and future”


5 June
Professor Emad El-Omar
Professor of Medicine/Editor in Chief, GUT, UNSW Sydney
“Role of the gut microbiome in health and disease”


29 May
Prof John Hopper
NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and Director of Twins Research Australia, University of Melbourne
“Learning from the community: twin, family and volunteer resources for health and medical research”


8 May
Dr Elissa Deenick
Laboratory Head, Lymphocyte Signalling and Activation, Garvan Institute
“How to make an immune response just right: lessons learnt from mice and humans”


1 May 
Professor Glenn Marshall
Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital Sydney
“Individualising child cancer care”


10 April
Professor Matt Cooper
Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland
“Infection and innate immunity: Follow the bugs to get to the drugs”


3 April
Mr Thomas Barlow
Barlow Advisory
“Australia’s Economy of Ideas - trends in scientific discovery during an age of uncertainty”


27 March
Professor David Cooper
Director, The Kirby Institute, Sydney
“Antiretroviral therapy for HIV: 30 years in 30 minutes”

22 March
Professor Ingrid Scheffer
Epilepsy Research Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne Brain Centre
“How Genomics is Transforming Epilepsy Care”

13 March
Professor Mark Smyth
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
“Immunotherapy – the fourth pillar of cancer treatment”

6 March 
Professor Wieland Huttner
Managing Director, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany 
“Neural stem and progenitor cells and neocortex expansion in development and evolution” 


27 February
Dr Dinshaw J Patel
Abby Rockefeller Mauze Chair in Experimental Therapeutics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center USA
“Structural Biology of RNA-mediated Gene Regulation and cGAS-STING-mediated Immune Regulation”


20 February
Professor Bruce Stillman 
President, Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory, USA
“The Origin Recognition Complex and Chromosome Duplication: Structure, Function and Human Genetics”


9 February
Professor Greg Gibson 
Professor of Integrative Genomics, Georgia Institute of Technology
“Transcriptomics for Personalised Medicine”


23 January
Dr Mark Chee
Chief Executive Officer, Prognosys Biosciences 
“A perspective on Genomics Technologies”

5 December
Rev Tim Costello
CEO World Vision Australia
“Tackling our greatest global challenges: Hope for a fragile world”

28 November
Prof Liz Harry
Director, i3 Institute, UTS
“Knowing When and Where to Divide: A Bacterial Perspective” 

21 November
Prof Helen Christensen
Director and Chief Scientist, Black Dog Institute
“Detect and Deliver”

14 November 
Prof Gail Risbridger
Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University
“Prostate cancer in BRCA mutation carriers: small cohort study with large impact”

24 October
Scientia Prof Katharina Gaus
EMBL Australia Node in Single Molecule Science, ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, UNSW Australia
“T cell receptor clustering - a new model of signal transduction”

10 October
Dr Kate Schroder
Deputy Director, IMB Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Queensland
“Inflammation control by inflammasomes”

26 September
Dr Markus Elsner
Research Editor, Nature Biotechnology
“Publishing in Nature Journals” 

19 September
Prof Georgia Chenevix-Trench
Senior Scientist, Cancer Genetics, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
“The Post GWAS Challenge: 188 breast cancer susceptibility loci and still counting” 

5 September 
Ms Anna Bligh
Chief Executive Officer, YWCA NSW


2 September
Sir Peter Gluckman ONZ KNZM FRSNZ FMedSci FRS
Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand
“Policy-making is messy – can science make it any cleaner?”

29 August
Dr Paul Boutros
Principal Investigator, Informatics & Biocomputing, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
“The Three Genomes of Cancer”

22 August (part of our diabetes symposium: 'Recent Advances in Metabolic Diseases')
Prof Jorge Ferrer
Chair in Genetics and Medicine, Head of the Section of Epigenomics and Disease, Imperial College London
“Non-coding genome function in pancreatic islets” 

8 August        
Mr Bill Ferris AC
Veteran of venture capital and private equity in Australia, Chair of Garvan Board from 2001-2013, and recently appointed Chair of Innovation and Science Australia
“Innovation and Science in a future Australia… so what for the Garvan?”

1 August
Prof Christina Mitchell
Academic Vice-President and Dean, Faculty of Medicine Nursing & Health Sciences, Monash University   
“Regulation of Phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling by Phosphoinositide Phosphatases” 

27 June
Prof Louisa Jorm
Director, Centre for Big Data Research in Health, UNSW Australia
“Big data, small populations: unpacking health inequalities using linked data”

9 June
Minister Pru Goward
Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Medical Research, Assistant Minister for Health, Minister for Women, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

31 May
Dr Vivien Bonazzi
Senior Advisor for Data Science Technologies & Innovation Office for the Associate Director for Data Science National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA
“The Data Commons – Changing the landscape for sharing and analysing large scale biomedical data” 

30 May
Prof Richard Gibbs AC
Director, Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Centre
“Precision Medical Research”

23 May        
Dr Anthony Joshua  Research profile 
Director of Oncology, Garvan Institute / St Vincent's Hospital Sydney 
“What can Medicine learn from the Airline Industry? Safety at 36000ft”

9 May
Prof Peter Visscher
Co-Director, The Centre for Neurogenetics and Statistical Genomics Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland
“The nature of genetic variation underlying complex traits and common disease”

2 May
David Thodey
CSIRO Chair 
“Leadership and Innovation in Scientific Research and Business are necessary – but is it the same?”

18 April       
Prof Angel Lopez
Director, Centre for Cancer Biology, SA Pathology and University of South Australia
“Signalling by the βc family of cytokines” 

11 April       
Dr Roberto Weigert
Senior Investigator, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute (NCI)
“Molecular Mechanism of Membrane remodeling in Live Animals by Subcellular Intravital Microscopy”

4 April         
Prof Anne Kelso AO 
Chief Executive Officer, NHMRC 
“NHMRC’s agenda in 2016”

21 March
Mr Charles Curran AC
“Reflections on economic and political developments in Australia over the last 50 years”

7 March
Hon. Dr Peter Beattie AC
Former Queensland Premier
“Where to from here Australia?”

22 February
Prof Yoshihide Hayashizaki
Director, Omics Science Center, RIKEN
“The recent progress of FANTOM omics, and its application to health care”