Institute of Advanced Studies

2012 Ian Constable Lecture


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Genetics and the Future of Medicine

A Public Lecture by Matt Brown Professor of Immunogenetics & Director, Diamantina Institute, University of Queensland

Matt BrownGenetics is a relatively recent discipline of medical practice and research, the field of human genetics coming into being in 1902 with Garrod’s reports of the increased frequency of certain diseases in offspring of related parents. Amazing progress has been made since then in working out the structure of the genome and how it operates to control the body.The field has always promised much in terms of the insights into causes of disease, and its use to predict disease risk, but only in recent years has it looked likely to deliver on that potential. Genetics may now enable medicine to move from therapy to disease prevention, and is providing fascinating insights as to how human diseases arise. There is much to be done to prepare us for the genetics era - and to protect us from it. However the potential of this one field to radically improve the health of our community makes these worthwhile tasks.

Matt Brown trained in medicine and rheumatology in Sydney before moving to the University of Oxford in 1994 to undertake an MD in the genetics of ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Matt continued his work at Oxford, building a large research group focused on genetics of bone and joint diseases. He was Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences in 2004 and Deputy Director of the University of Oxford Institute of Musculoskeletal Sciences from 2003-2005. Matt returned to Australia in 2005 to become Professor of Immunogenetics at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute where he established research programs in the genetics of common diseases, including AS, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, cancer and multiple sclerosis. He also became one of the founding investigators of the Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium, which developed the genome-wide association study. This new method for identifying genes in common human diseases has had a profound influence on genetics. He was appointed Director of the Diamantina Institute in 2011.

The Ian Constable Lecture

The annual Ian Constable lecture is presented by the Lions Eye Institute and the Institute of Advanced Studies at UWA. This series honours the work of Professor Ian Constable, recognised as one of the world’s leading ophthalmic surgeons. The Institute of Advanced Studies is proud to have been involved in each of the annual Ian Constable Lectures since 2000, presented by Professors Joseph Vacanti, Nadia Rosenthal, Bob Williamson, Mandyam V. Srinivasan, Paul Sieving, Julian D. Gale, Barry Marshall, Peter Quinn, David Mackey, Anne Kelso, Rolf Zinkernagel and Ian Frazer.

Professor Ian Constable

Professor Ian Constable is recognised as one of the world’s leading ophthalmic surgeons. In 1975 he was appointed by The University of Western Australia to the Lions Foundation Chair of Ophthalmology. In 1983 he established the Lions Eye Institute (LEI) dedicated to the prevention and treatment of blindness. The LEI incorporates the Centre of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at UWA, combining the expertise of ophthalmologists and researchers from a broad spectrum of scientific fields, and is now one of the largest medical eye research institutes in the southern hemisphere.

22 Oct 2012