Ok… so we know what DNA is, and we know what it does, but is that enough, and what’s next? How do we use what we now know about what makes up a human being to treat and prevent disease? Are we headed for a world akin to Gattica, where decisions on partners and children are made on genome sequencing, and what you pay for health insurance is based on specific diseases you’re predisposed to? How does the research being done now effect the way in which we’ll prevent, treat and cure diseases like Cancer and Diabetes in the future?
Professor John Mattick AO FAA is the Executive Director of the Garvan Institute, and is joining us in conversation. He has made several seminal contributions to molecular biology, including delineation of the architecture and function of the fatty acid synthase complex, development of one of the first recombinant DNA-based vaccines, and genetic characterisation of bacterial surface filaments called type IV pili involved in host colonisation. Over the past 20 years he has pioneered a new view of the genetic programming of humans and other complex organisms, by showing that the majority of the genome, previously considered ‘junk’, actually specifies a dynamic network of regulatory RNAs that guide differentiation and development. He has published over 250 research articles and his work has received coverage in Nature, Science, Scientific American, New Scientist and the New York Times, among others.
Despite his awe-inspiring (and somewhat intimidating!) list of achievements, John is a warm and approachable speaker who will break down this complex topic for us and talk us through the current thinking and future implications of the extraordinary research being done at the Garvan Insitute.
The Garvan Institute is at the forefront of medical research in Australia, focusing on understanding the role of genes and molecular and cellular processes in health and disease as the basis for developing future preventions, treatments and cures. Its areas of research cover Cancer, Diabetes, Obesity, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Osteoporosis and bone biology, and immunological diseases such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.