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Translating Stem Cell Research Into Real Health and Economic Benefits

06:00 PM - Thursday 14 May, 2015
You are invited to attend a special University of Queensland forum on stem cell science - Translating stem cell research into real health and economic benefits.

Date: Thursday, 14 May 2015

Time: 6.00pm - 8.00pm

Location: Customs House, 399 Queen St, Brisbane

Cost: Single tickets $25.00 per person. Subscription packages start from $40.00pp.

Click here to register.

IMAGINE having a personal body repair kit, one you can dip into to repair spinal cord damage, a heart attack or even brain cells destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease. According to stem cell scientist Ernst Wolvetang this isn’t science fiction. “It’s becoming technically possible,” says Professor Wolvetang, head of the Stem Cell Engineering Group at The University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN). Based on innovative research conducted by Professor Wolvetang’s group, this biological repair kit shows the potential of stem cell science to have a major impact on the health and economic wellbeing of Australians. This will be the focus of discussion at a special event hosted by the AIBN on 14 May: Translating Stem Cell Research into Real Health and Economic Benefits.

Moderated by ABC broadcaster Dr Norman Swan, this Global Leadership Series event will tackle key questions. Where is stem cell science today? How is it being translated into therapies? What are the current regulatory and philosophical issues facing scientists as they work to move their scientific insights into commercial products.

As Professor Wolvetang says, “The potential to change genes at will in a patient’s own stem cells raises a whole new set of ethical questions surrounding stem cell-based therapies”.

An internationally respected panel of researchers with a broad range of expertise will join Professor Wolvetang to debate these matters. Among them is the AIBN’s Associate Professor Christine Wells, an internationally respected authority on stem cell biology and the genetic manipulation of the body’s natural immunity.

Host, AIBN Director Professor Peter Gray, brings extensive commercial experience in the US and Australia, along with hands-on laboratory research in Australia, California and the UK. Like Professor Gray, panellist Martin Pera – Melbourne-based leader of the multi-university body Stem Cells Australia - has worked in the US. Both have provided extensive advice to state, national and international regulatory authorities on the scientific background to human embryonic stem cell research.

Professor Pera’s expertise fits neatly with that of the final panellist Alan Trounson, a pioneer in human in vitro fertilisation as well as stem cell science. Professor Trounson straddles the research-industry divide. As president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine from 2007-2014, Professor Trounson advanced stem cell science internationally. Today, he is co-founder of Melbourne biotechnology start-up company Cartherics Pty. Ltd.

According to Professor Trounson, stem cell science is central to Australia’s globally respected biotechnology industry. As Australia’s resources industry wanes, “a strong biotechnology industry is the best place to deliver jobs, innovation and new technology,” he says.

Ernst Wolvetang, Christine Wells, Peter Gray and Martin Pera are members of the Stem Cells Australia initiative.