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Join ABC broadcaster Norman Swan (Radio National’s Health Report, co-host of Coronacast and commentator on ABC TV’s 7.30) Dr Iris Depaz and Professors Alan RowanAvril Robertson and John Fraser as they reveal how science is exploiting the weapons already found in nature’s toolbox to radically challenge health and medical solutions, and eradicate major diseases globally.

Examine the groundbreaking world of biotech to explore the biology, technology and medicine making significant changes to healthcare, sustainability and so much more.


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Meet the panel

Norman Swan, Moderator

Norman Swan is a multi-award winning producer and broadcaster, host of RN’s Health Report, co-host of Coronacast and commentator on ABC TV’s 7.30.

Norman studied medicine in his native Scotland, training in Paediatrics before he began working for the ABC in 1982. He has been the Australian correspondent for the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Medical Journal and consulted for the World Health Organisation in Geneva. In the early 1990s, he created Invisible Enemies on pandemics and civilisation for Channel 4 UK.

A previous Gold Walkley winner, Norman won a 2020 Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism for Coronacast and has been awarded the medal of the Australian Academy of Science and has an honorary MD from the University of Sydney.

His career has been driven by his desire to keep the Australian public informed of health developments as they happen. He combines medical expertise with investigative reporting, clear analysis and the knowledge to report the latest research in health and medicine.

Professor John Fraser, Speaker

Professor John F Fraser MB ChB PhD FRCP(Glas) FFARCSI FCICM FELSO is Founder and Director of the Critical Care Research Group at The Prince Charles Hospital and Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland, Director of the Intensive Care Unit at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, and Immediate Past President of the Asia Pacific Extracorporeal Life Support Organisation.

Established in 2004, the Critical Care Research Group (CCRG) is Australia’s largest multi-disciplinary critical care research facility with seven purpose-built biology, engineering, and bio-fabrication laboratories, as well as the largest preclinical ICU in the southern hemisphere.

Dr Iris Depaz, Speaker

Dr Iris Depaz has over twenty years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and scientific research. Iris obtained her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia where she also conducted postdoctoral research and was an Associate Lecturer. She joined industry in 2007 and has worked in a variety of medical and R&D roles at local, regional and global levels in two global pharmaceutical companies including Medical Lead for the MMR and Varicella vaccine franchise for GSK based in Belgium and Head of Global Medical Effectiveness at Sanofi Vaccines based in France. Iris completed her EMBA with Honors at the IMD Business School in Lausanne Switzerland in 2020.

Currently, Iris is the Country Medical Lead and Vaccines Head of Medical for Sanofi ANZ. In 2023 she was appointed Managing Director of the Sanofi Global Translational Science Hub based in Brisbane. Her focus is on fostering scientific collaborations, elevating scientific communication, and establishing strategic partnerships to optimize vaccines and drug development, access and uptake. She has also led several digital health projects utilizing Natural Language Processing (AI), data analytics, blockchain technology and omnichannel solutions. Iris is also passionate about patient empowerment and improving health outcomes.

Dr Avril Robertson, Speaker

Avril is an experienced medicinal chemist who completed a commercially focused degree and PhD in bio-organic chemistry, including several awards, at the University of St Andrews, Scotland in 2000. She also has qualifications in both secondary and tertiary teaching. Avril had a successful 10 years in the UK biotechnology and drug discovery industry before she moved to The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2011, where she is now Associate Dean (Research) and Deputy Executive Dean in Faculty of Science.

Avril’s research has founded two companies and is focused on novel treatments for diseases of unmet medical need, particularly infectious and inflammatory disease areas. Her invention of NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitors has led to several granted patents which were licensed to found the UQ spin out company Inflazome Ltd. Inflazome sold to Roche in 2020 in the largest deal of its kind in Australian history and these inhibitors are now progressing through clinical trials.

Professor Alan Rowan

Professor Alan Rowan is performing his research at the interface of chemistry and biology. His latest scientific achievement has been the development of the first truly biomimetic hydrogel which mimics the mechanic and functional properties of the extracellular membrane.

Professor Rowan has published nearly 300 hundred peer-reviewed articles and books, including 18 Science and Nature-family papers. His research has also led to several patents, with a variety of commercial applications. He has had the pleasure of supervising more than 55 PhD students who have received their doctoral degree.

He is currently an ARC Laureate Fellow, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology, and board member of: The UQ Confucius Institute; The Dow Centre for Sustainability; and of UQ Senior Management group.


Cremorne Theatre,
Queensland Performing Arts Complex, South Brisbane