Professor Alan Cowman FAA FRS is Deputy Director – Science Strategy at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. He did his undergraduate and honours degrees at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. He then moved to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne where he obtained his PhD in the laboratory of Professor David Kemp through the University of Melbourne. He was awarded a C. J. Martin Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council for postdoctoral work at the University of California – Berkeley in the laboratory of Dr Gerry Rubin studying Drosophila eye function and development. He returned to Australia and took up a position at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and developed a laboratory that studies malaria. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2011 and the Australian Academy of Sciences in 2001. He has received a number of awards that include the Gottschalk Medal for Medical Science and Biology from the Australian Academy of Sciences, Boehringer-Mannheim Medal, Glaxo-Wellcome Australia Medal and the Howard Taylor Ricketts Medal from the University of Chicago. He has also received the Victoria Prize from the Victorian Government as well as the Mahathir Science Prize from the Mahathir Science Award Foundation. He has been awarded a number of Research Excellence Awards from the Australian National and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Currently, he has a Senior Principal Research Fellowship from the NHMRC. His work is aimed at understanding the function of proteins in Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of the most severe form of malaria in humans and to use this information for the development of vaccines and drug targets against this parasitic disease.
Professor Justine Smith
Justine R. Smith is Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Eye & Vision Health at Flinders University, and Consultant Ophthalmologist at SALHN-Flinders Medical Centre. Professor Smith heads a translational research laboratory, which focuses on basic mechanisms of infectious and non-infectious ocular inflammation. She runs a weekly uveitis clinic, managing patient with inflammatory eye diseases, and participates in national and international initiatives aimed at improving clinical outcomes for patients with these conditions. Professor Smith holds a number of prominent international positions within the eye and vision research, and ophthalmology communities. She is Chair of the Executive Committee Board of the International Ocular Inflammation Society, a Director of the Board of the International Council of Ophthalmology, Vice-President of Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis, and Executive Vice-President of the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Professor Smith was identified as one of Science & Technology Australia’s inaugural 30 Superstars of STEM.
Professor Stephen Barker
University of Queensland
Stephen Barker is a Professor of Parasitology. Barker has been studying ticks and other ectoparasites at the University of Queensland for over 25 years. Recent activities include: (i) a monograph, with Dr Allan Walker (University of Edinburgh) on the “Ticks of Australia. The species that infest domestic animals and humans” (2014, Zootaxa, 3816); (ii) research on the paralysis ticks of Australia, Ixodes holocyclus (paralysis tick) and Ixodes cornuatus (southern paralysis tick); and (iii) research on the evolution of the ticks, which lead to the description of two new genera of ticks, Robertsicus and Archaeocroton (2018, Zootaxa, 4500).
Associate Professor Michelle Power
Associate Professor Michelle Power is an academic in the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. Michelle did her undergraduate degree and PhD at Macquarie University. She then did postdoc at the University of Sydney (School of Veterinary Science) before being awarded a Macquarie University Research Fellowship, a role she held for a year before being appointed as an academic. Michelle’s research has focussed on host parasite interactions in wildlife, with special interested in protozoan parasites (Cryptosporidium, Giardia and Eimeria). In 2011 she received the inaugural Huw Smith Award for research on Cryptosporidium and Giardia and Vice Chancellors award for Early Career teaching. More recently, Michelle has shifted her research from the traditional approach of single host parasite studies to consider the role of co-infection and endemic microbiota to parasite infection outcomes. She has proposed that the ‘disease triad’ is now the ‘disease tetrad’ – the host, the parasite/s, the endemic host microbiota and the environment.
Professor Jake Baum
Imperial College London
Following Bachelors (1993-1996) and Masters (1997-1998) degrees at Oxford University, Jake received his PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in August 2002, his thesis focused on malaria parasite population genetics. In 2003, he moved to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia to work on the fundamentals of malaria parasite molecular and cellular biology. During this postdoctoral tenure, Jake worked on several projects relating to parasite invasion of the red blood cell, work that included the discovery of PfRH5, currently the lead-of-field developmental blood-stage malaria vaccine to which he is a named inventor. Following a visiting fellowship at Yale University in the pioneering lab of Thomas Pollard, a global leader in cytoskeletal biology, Jake established his own independent lab at the Hall Institute in 2010, applying super resolution and electron microscopy to the parasite invasion process. In 2013 Baum was recruited back to the UK by Imperial College as a tenured Reader in Parasite Cell Biology and simultaneously awarded an Investigator Award from the Wellcome Trust to fund his work. In 2017 Baum was promoted to Professor of Cell Biology and Infectious Diseases in recognition of efforts at the cutting edge of malaria science, teaching and leadership at Imperial College. Jake’s current laboratory has a broad research portfolio including major programmes in drug discovery, vaccinology, biophysics, engineering & material sciences (diagnostics for malaria) and cell biology. Work is funded through the Wellcome Trust, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Medicines for Malaria Venture, Human Frontier Science Program and the UK EPSRC. His group also has major links with industry (GSK) and the field, specifically relating to drug resistance (in collaboration with Mahidol University). In addition to running his interdisciplinary lab and coordinating cell biology courses for undergraduates, Jake is also the current co-Director of the Imperial College Network of Excellence in Malaria Research, which he founded in 2017 representing >100 researchers. Professor Baum has published >70 papers and is a recognised leader internationally in cellular parasitology, antimalarial drug discovery and inter-disciplinary cell biology.
Associate Professor Tina Skinner-Adams
Associate Professor Tina Skinner-Adams is an academic in the School of Environment and Science, Griffith University and a Research Leader at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD). She holds four current National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grants to investigate new anti-parasitic drugs with a research focus on malaria and giardiasis. Tina completed her undergraduate and honours degrees at Murdoch University before moving to the University of Western Australia to complete her PhD. She has been working in the field of anti-parasitic drug discovery and inhibitor target identification since the completion of her PhD at institutes including QIMR Berghofer, the University of Queensland and Griffith University.
Dr Sarah Catalano
SARDI Aquatic Sciences,
Primary Industries and Regions SA
Dr Sarah Catalano is a Senior Research Scientist in Aquaculture at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). Sarah completed her honours degree, investigating the parasite assemblages of arripid fish species, and PhD, examining the dicyemid parasite fauna of southern Australian cephalopod species, at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. From her PhD research, she formally described 10 new dicyemid species, representing the first from Australian waters, and provided an insight into the phylogenetic relationships of dicyemid parasites. She was awarded the University Doctoral Research Medal, Channel 9 Young Achiever Award and South Australian PhD Research Excellence Award for her PhD work. Her current research at SARDI applies next generation sequencing technologies to examine the gut microbiome of cultured fish species in an effort to improve health outcomes. She is also a guest lecturer in Marine Parasitology at the University of Adelaide.