[ASC-media] Symposium on 'Recent advances in stem cell science and therapies'

Jacinta Legg jacinta.legg at science.org.au
Mon May 2 14:57:43 EST 2005

2 May 2005


Symposium on 'Recent advances in stem cell science and therapies'


An international symposium on stem cells will be held at the Australian Academy of Science on Friday 6 May, as part of its annual Science at the Shine Dome festivities. The symposium will discuss the latest discoveries, potential therapies and ethical issues raised by stem cell research.


'This year two Acts of Parliament will be reviewed, the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 and the Prohibition of Human Cloning Act 2002, so our symposium is most timely,' said Dr Jim Peacock, President of the Australian Academy of Science. 


'In presenting the annual symposium, the Academy plans to ensure that the very best international science is available to policy makers,' Dr Peacock said.


Symposium convenor Professor Bob Williamson (Faculty of Medicine, University of Melbourne) commented on the rapid progress in stem cell research. 'Stem cells are now being studied in several Australian laboratories, including the National Stem Cell Centre, so that one day we may treat conditions as diverse as Parkinson's disease, cystic fibrosis and kidney failure.' 


The ethical and legal issues are important, in Australia and around the world. 'Many medical needs can be met by adult stem cells from patients, but most scientists think that there will be some diseases for which studies on embryonic stem cells will be necessary,' said Professor Williamson.


He is particularly excited that Professor Gesine Kögler (University of Düsseldorf) is speaking at the meeting. 'She has shown that cord blood from a newborn baby has stem cells that may have many of the essential features of embryonic stem cells, without any of the ethical issues.'


Professor Williamson hopes that many politicians and policy makers will attend the symposium.


As well as Professor Williamson and Professor Kögler, the symposium features an impressive cast of speakers:

·     Professor Martin Pera, Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development, Monash University; and Australian National Stem Cell Centre

·     Professor Bob Graham, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney

·     Professor Brandon Wainwright, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland

·     Dr Melissa Little, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland

·     Professor Perry Bartlett, Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland

·     Dr Konrad Hochedlinger, Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

·     Professor Peter Rathjen, Faculty of Sciences, University of Adelaide

·     Professor Julian Savulescu, Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics, University of Oxford, UK


The symposium is sponsored by the Lion Foundation, the Queensland Brain Institute of the University of Queensland, the ANZ Children's Heart Research Centre, Cystic Fibrosis Victoria and Cystic Fibrosis Australia, the Australian Stem Cell Centre and Biotechnology Australia.


Media are invited to attend the symposium at the Academy of Science's Shine Dome on Friday 6 May. It runs from 8.50am to 4.30pm. 


The full program, including abstracts and brief cvs of speakers, is available on the Academy's website at http://www.science.org.au/sats2005/symposium.htm.


Further information is available from Jacinta Legg ph 02 6247 5777; 0409 331 366; or email jacinta.legg at science.org.au.

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