Local Speakers
Local Speakers

Professor Una Ryan, Biochemistry, Murdoch University, Perth

Professor Ryan is a biochemist researching parasites and infectious agents. Her research area is the molecular epidemiology of infectious agents, particularly the use of genotyping tools for improving detection methods and for studying transmission dynamics. Her group works on the molecular epidemiology of enteric parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia and blood borne parasites such as Babesia, Theileria and Trypanosomes, and novel therapeutics for pathogens.

In 2000, she received the Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year from the Prime Minister of Australia for her work in isolating a method of diagnosing parasites.

Professor Alistair Forrest, PhD in Bioinformatics, University of Queensland

Professor Alistair Forrest completed his PhD in Bioinformatics at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland, where he was involved in both ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ science, generating and analysing some of the first microarrays used in Australia. He invented a strand specific RNA-seq protocol that heralded the start of the RNA-seq revolution. In 2007 he moved to RIKEN Yokohama Japan and is currently scientific coordinator of the FANTOM5 (Functional Annotation of the mammalian genome) project consisting of a consortium of over 250 scientists in 20 countries. This has used single-molecule sequencing to generate a map of promoters and enhancers across a large collection of human and mouse primary cells, cancer cell lines and tissues. The work has recently published in the prestigious journal Nature along with a collection of 18 additional satellite papers in specialized journals such as Nature Biotechnology, Genome Research and Blood. After 20 years away from Perth he returned thanks to funds raised through the MACA Ride to Conquer Cancer and a Cancer Research Trust Senior Cancer Research Fellowship. Professor Forrest’s research focuses on using cutting-edge genomic techniques, in particular next generation DNA sequencing and computational approaches (bioinformatics) to understand how cells work at a system level. He has extensive experience in next generation sequencing (NGS) and has published using a variety of platforms (Roche, SOLiD, Illumina and Helicos) and protocols (RNA-seq, CAGE, small RNA, ChIP-seq).

Professor Lin Fritschi, John Curtin Distinguished Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Curtin University, Perth

Professor Fritschi is a cancer epidemiologist with a particular interest in occupational causes of cancer. She has a medical degree from the University of Queensland, a doctorate in epidemiology from the Australian National University and is a Public Health Physician with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Professor Fritsch has led many large case-control and cohort studies investigating occupational hazards as well as non-occupational causes of cancer. She is particularly interested in improving the way we assess historical exposure to chemicals at work and has developed a web-based application (OccIDEAS) to assist in this task ( She has published over 250 peer-reviewed publications in national and international journals and holds an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship.

Associate Professor Pritinder Kaur, Biomedical Sciences, Curtin University, Perth

Associate Professor Kaur is an epithelial stem cell biologist with research interests in tissue renewal, wound repair and cancer. Her laboratory uses predominantly human skin as a model epithelium but findings in this tissue can be extended to many other epithelia including oesophageal, gastrointestinal and ovarian tissues. Her primary research interests focus on understanding the cellular and molecular interactions between epithelial stem cells and their immediate mesenchymal microenvironment - an interaction that drives homeostatic cell replacement. Disruption of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions occur during injury and cancer - an understanding of these perturbations provides insights into the development of proliferative diseases, ageing and carcinogenesis.

Professor Karen Simmer, Professor of Newborn Medicine, UWA, Perth

Karen Simmer is Professor of Newborn Medicine at The University of Western Australia. She is Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Units at King Edward Memorial Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth. She is Director of the Perron Rotary Express Milk Bank (human milk bank) which was established in 2006 and is viewed around the world as the 'best practice' human milk bank. She has paediatric specialist qualifications from the Australasian and British Colleges and was awarded a PhD in perinatal nutrition from London University. She is co-director of the UWA Centre for Neonatal Research and Education. Prof Simmer was elected to the UWA Senate and was Chair of the Academic Board UWA 2009-2012 during introduction of new undergraduate and postgraduate courses. She is Chair of the Nutrition Reference Group for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Her current research interests are in neonatal nutrition and infection.

Professor Peter Klinken, Chief Scientist of Western Australia

Professor Klinken is a leading Western Australian medical research scientist, highly regarded for his work in advancing the understanding of genes involved in leukaemia, cancer and anaemia. His many research achievements include the discovery of a gene that suppresses the growth of tumours.

After obtaining his PhD from The University of Western Australia, he undertook research at the US National Institutes of Health in Washington and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne.

His previous roles have included Professor in Clinical Biochemistry at The University of Western Australia; Director of Research at the Royal Perth Hospital; and the Director of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (previously the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research).

Under his stewardship, the Perkins Institute attracted world-class national and international researchers to the State and made numerous acclaimed medical discoveries. He also spear-headed the development of two new state-of-the-art medical research facilities, Perkins North in Nedlands (QEII Medical Centre) and Perkins South in Murdoch (Fiona Stanley Hospital).

Professor Klinken brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the role of Chief Scientist. His input will support the Government in growing the State's science industries to achieve future prosperity for Western Australians.

Professor Fiona M Wood FRACS AM, Director, Burns Service of WA & Director of the Burn Injury Research Unit UWA

Professor Fiona Wood is one of Australia’s most innovative and respected surgeons and researchers. A highly skilled plastic and reconstructive surgeon and world leading burns specialist, she has pioneered research and technology development in burns medicine.

Professor Wood’s positions include Director of the Burns Service of Western Australia (BSWA), Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Fiona Stanley Hospital (previously at Royal Perth Hospital) and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children and Winthrop Professor (Burns Injury Research Unit) at the School of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine UWA.

She was awarded Member of the Order of Australia in 2003, the Australian Medical Association’s ‘Contribution to Medicine’ award in 2003, the 2003 and 2004 West Australian of the Year and 2005 Australian of the Year. She was voted Australia’s Most Trusted Person for six successive years (2005-2010) and has been recognised as an Australian Living Treasure

Associate Professor Michaela Lucas, Clinical Associate Professor, School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UWA

Associate Professor Michaela Lucas is a Clinical Immunologist/ Immunopathologist at the adult tertiary Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital for Children and Pathwest Laboratory Medicine in Perth, Western Australia. Her main research interests are in T-cell immunology, with special emphasis on interplay of innate and adaptive immunity during chronic viral infection, transplantation immunology and drug hypersensitivity.

After a doctorate in Biochemistry, a European Marie-Curie Fellowship and a post-doctoral position at Oxford University, Dr Lucas moved to Australia in 2004, where she completed her Basic and Advanced Physician training in Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology in 2012. Since early 2014 she has been the Group Leader of a Immunology Laboratory with the School of Medicine and Pharmacology, UWA, at the Harry Perkins Institute in Perth. Clinically, she overseas the Drug Allergy Services at two tertiary hospitals. She is the elected chair of the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy(ASCIA) Drug Allergy working party and is the project leader for Drug Allergy for the National Allergy Strategy.

Professor Tim Inglis, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, UWA

Tim Inglis,  Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UWA, leads a clinical microbiology research group that combines a range of investigative skills from cell and molecular biology, to applied bioinformatics, outbreak investigation and emerging infectious disease response. He has developed technology that allows patients to have pathology tests where full laboratory facilities are unavailable i.e. in developing countries or in military environments. His current research focuses on anti-microbal resistance.

Associate Professor Deborah Strickland, Head, Experimental Asthma Research Group, Telethon Kids Institute, Perth

Dr Strickland has contributed a significant body of novel research that has led to a greater fundamental understanding of immune regulation, with a particular focus in respiratory tissues. Investigations have centred on the mechanisms underlying development, expression and resolution of allergic airways disease, using animal models, to identify potential targets for novel therapeutic strategies aimed at improved control or cure from disease. She collaborates with researchers working with longitudinal human cohorts studying allergic disease, which provide important correlations and translational relevance between findings in humans and directing animal model studies. In addition, collaborative translational research associations have been established with industry at both local (Phylogica) and international (OM PHARMA, Switzerland) levels.

Dr Strickland is currently researching the impact of environmental exposures during in utero and early life (infection, allergens) on the immune system. Dr Strickland is a highly recognised expert in immunological cell analysis in asthma disease models and has expert skills in areas related to both human and animal model studies, including experimental design, data analysis, flow cytometry applications (analysis and cell sorting), cell biology and tissue culture.

Professor Gary Geelhoed, Chief Medical Officer, Western Australia

Professor Gary Geelhoed, Western Australia’s Chief Medical Officer is a passionate advocate and practitioner in child health and emergency department management, having worked in the Emergency Department at Princess Margaret Hospital for over 20 years. He has a keen interest in health reform and finding innovative solutions to meeting the ever-increasing demands on our health system.

Professor Geelhoed had a key role in introducing the Four Hour Rule Program to WA public hospitals, making Western Australia the first jurisdiction in Australia to do so. The wealth of knowledge and insight gained from this experience, along with 36 years as a clinician, will be vital in helping to meet challenging national health reform objectives through the National Emergency Access Targets and National Elective Surgery Targets.

Professor Geelhoed is currently Chair of the WA Alcohol and Drug Authority Board, a Board Member of Healthway and a Federal Australian Medical Association Councillor. His past roles include: State President of the Paediatric Chapter of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians; a member of the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Board and Past President of Australian Medical Association WA.

Professor Eric Moses, Director, Centre for Genetic Origins of Health & Disease, UWA & Curtin, Perth

Professor Moses is a genetic epidemiologist currently appointed as Director, Centre for Genetic Origins of Health and Disease at the University of Western Australia. Professor Moses is also part of a Cancer Council WA Capacity Building and Collaboration Grant, integrating personalized genomics into risk-stratification models of population screening for cancer, that is administered through Curtin.  Prior to his current appointment he we was Head of the Complex Disease Genetics Laboratory at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. He collaborates extensively on the genetic dissection of a variety of common complex human traits and diseases using contemporary high-throughput integrative genomics strategies in large population and family-based study designs. His current research focus includes common pregnancy disorders, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, melanoma, mesothelioma and sleep disorders.

Professor Timothy Davis, Medicine, University of WA, Perth

TIMOTHY DAVIS is a Professor of Medicine at the University of WA and a Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at Fremantle Hospital. He has active clinical and research and interests in diabetes/endocrinology and in tropical medicine. He has served on NHMRC Council and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council amongst other government boards and committees. He has been a past Vice President of the Australian Diabetes Society and is currently Co-Lead of the WA Health Department’s Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinical Network.

Doctor Mia Carbon, Chief Veterinary Officer of Western Australia, Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia

Dr Mia Carbon leads the development of strategic livestock health policies designed to maintain and enhance Western Australia’s excellent livestock biosecurity status. This status enables WA livestock industries to meet market access requirements, facilitating the export of 80% of WA’s livestock and livestock products annually – a market that was valued at $2 billion in 2015/16.

Dr Carbon is responsible for overseeing state legislative and policy issues related to animal health, disease control and eradication activities, developing and delivering WA’s livestock surveillance and diagnostic program, and providing strategic and technical leadership in emergency animal disease outbreaks. Dr Carbon represents WA at a range of state and national animal health forums.

The management of public health risks arising from both zoonotic disease threats and the integrity of livestock products is a key part of Dr Carbon’s work. This includes regulatory aspects such as control of use of veterinary chemicals, animal feed, and residue investigations in livestock product.

After graduating from Murdoch University in 2003, Dr Carbon worked as a private practitioner in Australia and the United Kingdom, before taking on a teaching role at the Royal Veterinary College. She started her career as a government veterinarian in the UK, where she was responsible for international disease monitoring and import risk analysis. Within WA Dr Carbon managed the state’s animal disease control programs before taking on the role of chief veterinary officer.