Hot topics such as the influence of maternal nutrition before and during pregnancy on a child's development of conditions including obesity, type II diabetes, autism and attention deficit disorder will be canvassed at a high profile gathering of some of the world's finest medical science and health research minds in Perth this April.
Local and international experts will come together at Science on the Swan, the first in a series of conferences organised by all five of Western Australia's major universities - The University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University and The University of Notre Dame - in partnership with the Telethon Kids Institute, the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and the WA Government through the Department of Health and the Office of Science.
The conference will focus on ‘Hot Topics in Life Course and Development' and will discuss the influences of pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and immediate post-natal periods on later life health and disease. Subjects will include the developing brain, especially in relation to attention deficit disorders, autism and early school performance, and the connection between diet, development of the blood system in babies and young children and the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke later in life.
Other subjects will include how and why metabolic disease, diabetes and obesity develop and how the factors which influence them may be controlled and how to make and keep healthy blood vessels. Presentations will tackle how the bacteria which inhabit our bodies (the microbiome) can alter development and influence diseases like asthma and diabetes; and how a mother's microbiome may influence whether a baby develops certain diseases or is born too early. Experts will explore ways to alter good and bad bacteria to potentially prevent preterm birth and improve a baby's post-natal health.
Conference co-chair Professor John Challis, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health and Medical Research) at UWA, said Science on the Swan was a unique opportunity to bring together WA's top medical and health researchers and their national and international research partners.
"These links benefit not just the researchers, government and industry, but the wider community as we work towards solving major 21st Century health issues," Professor Challis said.
"Our development as human beings, our ability to learn as children, and our pre-disposition to disease in later life, are all influenced by the environment to which we were exposed as babies inside the uterus and during life immediately after birth. This conference will explore some of these relationships."
The conference will run annually, focusing on different areas of research in subsequent years. The inaugural conference, which is open to academics, students and the public, will run at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from 21-23 April this year. To learn more about the speakers, view the conference program and book, go to Science on the Swan.
Professor John Challis (Pro Vice-Chancellor, Health and Medical Research, UWA) (+61 8) 6488 6740
Professor Michael Berndt (Pro Vice-Chancellor, Health Sciences, Curtin University) (+61 8) 9266 7466
Susan Marie (Facilitator; Science on the Swan) (+61 4) 38 921 131
David Stacey (UWA Media and Public Relations Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716