Symposium Opening

Professor Anna deFazio

Anna deFazio is the Sydney-West Chair in Translational Cancer Research, University of Sydney at Westmead Hospital. She is the co-Deputy Director of the Sydney-West Translational Cancer Research Centre and heads the Gynaecological Oncology Research Group in the Centre for Cancer Research, Westmead Institute for Medical Research. Prof deFazio undertook her post-doc at the Garvan Institute and her PhD at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Prof deFazio has a long-standing commitment to translational research with an emphasis on improving treatment outcome for women with ovarian cancer. The focus of her research is on understanding the clinico-genomic parameters that underlie response and resistance to treatment.




Invited Speakers

14th September 2017 – 6th Annual St. Vincent’s Precinct PostDoc Symposium


Dr Samantha Oakes

Talk: Young Garvan Edgy Idea Award: An update            Time: 10-10:30 am

Dr Samantha Oakes is head of the Cancer Cell Survival group at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) Fellow. Samantha received her PhD from the University of New South Wales in 2007 and received the Garvan Institute best thesis prize for this work. Samantha has published 24 research manuscripts that have helped our understanding and treatment of cancer. She has been awarded over $3.2 million in competitive grant funding and won several awards for her work. Recently, Samantha and her team discovered a new dual therapeutic approach, which in preclinical studies prevents the spread of breast cancers through the body and has promise for the treatment of other tumours. In 2017, Samantha was awarded a Cancer Council NSW project grant to continue this work, to ensure the outcomes of this research are rapidly translated into the clinic and hopefully improve the survival of women and men suffering cancer. Samantha is a passionate advocate of medical research in the community and is a role model to women dealing with the challenges of balancing family and a scientific career. Samantha also raises awareness about cancer and the importance of research in the community through her many extra-curricular activities both as a spokesperson for NBCF and the Garvan Institute.


Dr Michael Bowen

Talk: Targeting the brain oxytocin system to treat substance use disorders           Time: 3:45-4:45 pm

Dr Michael Bowen is an NHMRC Doherty Fellow at the Brain and Mind Centre, and Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney. Dr. Bowen’s research focusses on the discovery and development of novel pharmacotherapies for brain disorders that currently lack effective treatments, such as alcohol-use and social disorders. Some of his most important work to date has been helping to establish the brain oxytocin system as a novel target for the treatment of substance-use disorders. Dr. Bowen has co-authored over 19 research papers, holds 5 patents and has received numerous awards including the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher (2016), International Behavioral Neuroscience Society Early Career Award (2016), and the Early Career Researcher of the Year – NSW Premier’s Prizes for Science and Engineering (2015). In 2015 he was inducted into the World Economic Forum’s Young Scientists Community of 50 of the top scientists under the age of 40 from around the world. In addition, Dr. Bowen is the current Associate Director of Scientific Operations at the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, where he also helps lead the cellular and preclinical research programs to advance cannabinoid-based treatments in medicine.


15th September 2017 – 25th St Vincent’s Campus Research Symposium


Professor Kathryn North

Talk:            Time: 9:50-10:20

Professor Kathryn North AM is Director of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the David Danks Professor of Child Health Research at the University of Melbourne.

Professor North is trained as a physician, neurologist and clinical geneticist and in 1994, was awarded a doctorate for research in neurogenetics. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Harvard Genetics Program.

Professor North has a major research and clinical focus on Genomic Medicine.  In 2014, Professor North was appointed as Co-Chair of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health – a collaborative network of over 400 organisations across over 45 countries funded by the NIH and the Wellcome Trust ( Commencing in 2016, she is one of the leaders of an NHMRC-funded national network of over 40 institutions – the Australian Genomics Health Alliance (AGHA). The goal of AGHA is to provide evidence and practical strategies for the implementation of genomic medicine in the Australian health system.

Professor North has received a number of awards including the GSK Australia Award for Research Excellence (2011), the Ramaciotti Medal  for Excellence in Biomedical Research (2012) and Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to medicine in the field of neuromuscular and neurogenetics research (2012). In 2012, Professor North was appointed Chair of the National Health and Medical Research Council Research Committee and in 2014 was appointed as a Foundation fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science. She chairs the International Advisory Board of the Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (UK) and is a member of the Board of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.


Professor Doug Hilton

Talk: The changing landscape of Australian Medical Research.           Time: 15:20-15:50

Professor Doug Hilton is the 6th Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Head of the Department of Medical Biology in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne, and the immediate past President of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI). He is best known for his discoveries in the area of cytokine signalling, his advocacy for health & medical research and for gender equity in science. The Hilton lab aims to understand which of the 30,000 genes are important in the production and function of blood cells, and how this information can be used to better prevent, diagnose and treat blood cell diseases such as leukaemia, arthritis and asthma. Professor Hilton has been awarded numerous prizes for his research into how blood cells communicate and has led major collaborations with industry to translate his discoveries from the bench to the bedside. He is an inventor of more than 20 patent families, most of which have been licensed, and is a co-founder of the biotechnology company MuriGen. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and of Health and Medical Sciences.


Rising Stars


Dr Eva Maria Novoa (Garvan)

Talk:   Genome-wide in vivo mRNA structure dynamics identifies RNA remodelers and functional elements during vertebrate embryogenesis.       Time: 2:10-3:10pm

Dr Eva Maria Novoa is Group Leader and DECRA fellow at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research (Sydney, Australia), in a conjoint appointment with the University of New South Wales. She graduated with Honours in Biochemistry, and received her PhD in Biomedicine from the University of Barcelona, awarded with an Extraordinary PhD Prize. During her PhD she performed both computational and experimental work, including the discovery of a novel antimalarial drug that targeted the translation machinery of the malaria parasite, which completely cleared the disease from infected mice. Awarded with an EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship and an HFSP Postdoctoral Fellowship, she then relocated to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Broad Institute for her postdoctoral studies. Eva has published 14 publications (10 of which are first-authored) in high impact journals such as Cell, Science and PNAS, and has received multiple prizes and awards, including the Fisher Scientific Prize for Young Researchers (2013) and Young Research Scientist Award (2016), given by the Spanish Society of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.  Her current work is largely focused on deciphering the language of RNA modifications, and how its orchestration can regulate our cells in a space-, time- and signal-dependent manner.  


Dr Alastair Stewart (Victor Chang)

Talk:   Cryo-EM studies of E. coli ATP synthase         Time: 2:10-3:10pm

Dr Alastair Stewart is a group leader at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Dr Stewart read the Natural Sciences Tripos at the University of Cambridge (Girton College), obtaining his BA in 2007 and MA in 2009. Following this, he moved to Sydney and embarked on a PhD examining the structure and function of ATP synthase at the University of New South Wales, under the supervision of Dr. Daniela Stock. After two short Post Docs, in the fields of protein folding and lncRNAs, Dr Stewart established his research group investigating the structure and function of molecular motors.




Dr Christine Shiner (SVH)

Talk:   Technology in rehabilitation – exploring novel ways to improve patient safety, education and rehabilitation outcomes      Time: 2:10-3:10pm

Dr Christine Shiner is a neuroscientist and clinical research officer working in the Departments of Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. She supervises the Rehabilitation Research Team and is conducting a variety of research studies investigating novel rehabilitation interventions and their clinical and neuroimaging outcomes. She came to St Vincent’s in 2016 after completing a PhD at Neuroscience Research Australia, where she investigated clinical, neuroimaging and genetic markers of upper-limb motor impairment and recovery following stroke, with a particular focus on severe stroke.