Translating Stem Cell Research Into Real Health and Economic Benefits

14 May, 2015 - 18:00 to 20:00
Customs House, 399 Queen St, Brisbane

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Dr Norman Swan, Professor Alan Trounson, Professor Martin Pera, Ernst Wolvetang, Associate Professor Christine Wells & Professor Peter Gray


Dr Norman Swan
ABC Radio National

Dr Norman Swan hosts The Health Report on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National, and Tonic on ABC News24 (Television). The Health Report is probably the world’s longest running health programme and Norman has won many awards for his work including Australia’s top prize for journalism, the Gold Walkley. He trained in medicine in Scotland and paediatrics in London and Sydney before joining the ABC and has hosted many other programmes on radio and television. He ran Radio National in the early 90s and created shows such as RN Breakfast, Life Matters and Late Night Live with Phillip Adams. Norman has also been the medical host on Channel Ten’s Biggest Loser for the past five seasons. Norman created, wrote and narrated Invisible Enemies, a four part series on disease and civilisation for Channel 4 UK and broadcast in 27 countries.
He has consulted to the World Health Organisation and, for example, co chaired a global meeting of health ministers in Bamako West Africa focused on evidence based policy and priorities in health research.


Professor Alan Trounson
Emeritus Professor Monash University
Distinguished Scientist, MIMR-PHI Institute for Medical Research, Melbourne
CEO Cartherics Pty Ltd

Alan was President of Californian Institute for Regenerative Medicine (for 6.5 years; 2007-2014) the Californian state’s $3 billion stem cell agency driving research in stem cell biology and facilitating the translation of stem cell discoveries into clinical therapies.

He was the founding Director of the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories at Monash University (2004-07). He has founded seven for-profit life science companies and the National Biotechnology Centre of Excellence - ‘Australian Stem Cell Centre’ (2002-03). He held a Chair in Paediatrics/Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and also a Chair in Stem Cell Science at Monash University. He was Director of the Monash Centre for Early Human Development 1985-2002 and founding Deputy Director/Director of the Institute for Reproductive Biology 1990- 2002

He was a pioneer of human in vitro fertilisation (IVF), introducing fertility drugs for controlling ovulation, embryo freezing techniques, egg and embryo donation methods, early sperm microinjection methods, initiated embryo biopsy, developing in vitro oocyte maturation methods and the vitrification of eggs and embryos. He led the Australian/Singapore team for the discovery of human embryonic stem cells in the late 1990’s.

He founded the company Cartherics Pty Ltd for immuno-cell therapeutics with Richard Boyd, Robert Moses and Ian Nesbit (2014).

Professor Martin Pera
Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia (SCA).

Martin Pera is Professor of Stem Cell Sciences at the University of Melbourne, the Florey Neuroscience Institute, and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research. He serves as Program Leader for Stem Cells Australia, the Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative in Stem Cell Sciences. His research interests include the cell biology of human pluripotent stem cells, early human development, and germ cell tumours. Pera was among a small number of researchers who pioneered the isolation and characterisation of pluripotent stem cells from human germ cell tumours of the testis, work that provided an important framework for the development of human embryonic stem cells. His laboratory at Monash University was the second in the world to isolate embryonic stem cells from the human blastocyst, and the first to describe their differentiation into somatic cells in vitro. He has provided extensive advice to state, national and international regulatory authorities on the scientific background to human embryonic stem cell research.


Ernst Wolvetang
AIBN Group Leader





Associate Professor Christine Wells
AIBN Group Leader





Professor Peter Gray
Director, AIBN

Professor Peter Gray was appointed inaugural director of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at the University of Queensland in 2003. Previously he was Professor of Biotechnology and Director of the Bioengineering Centre at UNSW, and a Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Professor Gray has had commercial experience in the USA working for Eli Lilly and Co and for the Cetus Corporation as well as previously holding academic positions at University College London, and at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests are focussed on engineering mammalian cells to produce the complex proteins called biologics which are gaining rapid acceptance as human therapeutics, and on developing human stem cells bioprocesses suitable for clinical application. Professor Gray was one of the founders and is a past President of the Australian Biotechnology Association, AusBiotech. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and has been named as one of Australia’s 100 Most Influential Engineers.

He is a Vice-President of ATSE, and serves on the Boards of Biopharmaceuticals Australia Pty Ltd, Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS), ACYTE Biotechnology Pty Ltd, Stem Cells Ltd, ECI Inc, New York, and a number of State and Federal Government Councils and Committees.