Some of Northern Australia’s leading tropical health scientists gathered in Townsville for the Australian Institute of Medical and Clinical Scientists’ conference at the weekend.
Among those in attendance were leading health and medical researchers from James Cook University’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, and clinical scientists from the Townsville University Hospital.
The search for novel medicines in toxic marine stinger venom, the latest COVID-19 molecular testing capacity at the Townsville University Hospital, and tropical cyclones and flooding, were discussed under this year’s theme “What does not kill you makes you stronger”.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill who opened the conference, said research conducted in North Queensland at James Cook University’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, was invaluable for the unique challenges facing those living in the tropics.
The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) has 120 health and medical research staff, supports more 550 health industry professionals and scientists (via membership) across Northern Queensland, and delivers research leadership and evidenced-based practice to the five Health and Hospital Services of Northern Queensland.
“The support that the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine provides to regional and rural communities really can’t be understated,” Cr Hill said.
“We face unique health challenges in the tropics, and it is so important that we have a well-funded and supported research teams to ensure we can continue to develop medical solutions that will support not just regional and remote Australian communities, but also our neighbouring countries that are facing these challenges too.”
Conference co-ordinator and JCU Associate Professor, and AITHM member Donna Rudd said North Queensland could be proud of its solid foundations and rich history in the area of tropical health and medicine.
“This conference is a fabulous opportunity for scientists from our region to come together to learn and network with their colleagues in a warm and friendly environment,” Associate Professor Rudd said.
“North Queensland is leading the charge in tropical health research in Australia.
“This conference is always well, attended and supported by the scientific community in North Queensland.”
Keynote speakers included Keynote speakers included Dr Norman Swan the ABC’S award winning producer and broadcaster of the ABC's Health Report and Coronacast, and researchers from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, including Deputy Director Professor Denise Doolan, who is developing a vaccine for malaria.
AITHM’s Marine stinger expert Professor Jamie Seymour who shared his latest research about extracting venom from box jellyfish in the search for novel medicines, and Dr Michael Smout, who discussed his work with a peptide growth factor, which could help save the feet of people with diabetes.
Townsville University Hospital’s Dr Adam Hollyoak spoke about the latest advances in understanding snake venoms.
The Dean of JCU’s College of Public Health and Medicine and Veterinary Science Professor Maxine Whittaker, and Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine Dentistry at James Cook University Prof Richard Murray, discussed how the University is strengthening public health resilience in North Queensland.