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Peter C. Doherty, University of Melbourne, and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis TN. PowerPoint Presentation
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Peter C. Doherty, University of Melbourne, and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis TN.

Peter C. Doherty, University of Melbourne, and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis TN.

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Peter C. Doherty, University of Melbourne, and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis TN.

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  1. SCIENCE AND THE HUMAN FUTURE Peter C. Doherty, University of Melbourne, and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis TN.

  2. Professor Sir Walter Murdoch (1874- 1970) literary academic, essayist, and a gentle, public intellectual His was a very different world.

  3. IMMUNITY: A complex defence system IMMUNE IMMUNIS EXEMPT WITHOUT TAX Immunity has evolved to minimize the tax of infection. Infection is the process whereby simpler life forms live in, or on, us.

  4. THE BASIS OF VACCINATION IS IMMUNE MEMORY Only those who had recovered from the plague could nurse the sick because they could not catch the disease a second time …..this altered state is specific. Thucidides -2425 years The Persistence of Memory, S. Dali Our immune systems “remember” that we have encountered the infection before

  5. Killer T cells: CD8+ T cell-mediated immunity The CD8+ “killers” cannot prevent infection, but clear lytic viruses following primary challenge and reduce both the duration and magnitude of virus growth following recall from memory. The “hit men” of immunity Induced apototic “suicide”of cell virus“factories”

  6. ZAP! KAPOW! Killer T cell Focus on the big cell in the middle, and watch the little guy come in from the top left

  7. Scientists tend to live intense, committed lives.They may be well known in their field but, in the broader scheme of things, they are generally obscure, private individuals. Announced every October, the Nobel Prizes confer some sort of “celebrity” status. It’s hardly “Paris Hilton World”, but it does push the recipients into the public arena American Chemical Society, April 1998

  8. Most science Prizes attract little attention. The Nobel is different Lasker Award The status of the Nobel Prizes confers a public voice. As Kary Mullis (Chemistry 1993) says: “It opens every door at least once”

  9. The 1997 Australian of the Year Award put me on the public stage. Having been out of the country for 8 years, I was totally naïve about contemporary Australia Knowing nothing about the debate going on in Australia, I thought that the move to become a Republic was essentially a fait accompli

  10. With more legitimacy, I bought-in to the intense argument about whether children should be vaccinated. Ignorance is dangerous!

  11. Suffering from the “Rex Effect” I was suddenly being asked about everything from aboriginal health to international relations, and decided to focus on the importance of science and technology for the nation’s future

  12. Learning Science Communication on the Job That year taught me that some of the basics all scientists take for granted, such as Probability and Relative Risk, are unfamiliar to many. I learned that science communication often works best when we are able to use familiar examples to illustrate ideas that may be unfamiliar. When views that are antithetical to science and reason are expressed, the best one can do is to listen respectfully then try to insert some questions into the equation

  13. FANTASY AND REALITY Each and every one of us lives in a mental world that balances between fantasy and evidence-based reality. Where we stand in that defines who we are. Fantasy drives many of our patterns of consumption and increasingly determines the political lives of nations. “Things go better with Coke” “We’re in the Pepsi generation”

  14. A DANGEROUS DIVIDE The US is currently divided politically into two sets of people staring at each other in mutual incomprehension. The political definitions of “conservatives and liberals” are, in fact, increasingly, meaningless. The real divide is between the “masters of fantasy” and those they manipulate via the media, and people who retain some devotion to evidence-based reality and reason Wedge politics present false choices “Do we want health care if it means Gay Marriage?”

  15. Science is about evidence and, as such, has little appeal to fantasists, though they take the benefits of science….. antibiotics…air travel… etc for granted. If you go to most local bookstores you will find that there is about twice as much shelf space devoted to astrology as to all areas of science

  16. WHAT IS SCIENCE? Modern science begins less than 500 years ago with the philosopher Francis Bacon and the reformation that led to the founding of the College de France, the medical school at Padua, the Royal Society of London and the Sciences section of the Academie Francaise Western Europe emerged from a 1,000 years of ecclesiastical control that suppressed human curiosity and experiment in favor of authority and a dull scholasticism

  17. The tools of modern science developed at that time are………. Hypothesis Measurement Experiment and observation Open publication of results…….. Obeying these rules allows us to approach the truth, though it may often be a very small truth that is totally obscure to most

  18. The focus on science has transformed the human condition, though many have little understanding of how that has occurred The great majority in the western world enjoy lives that are infinitely better than those experienced by common people 500 years ago This has, however, come at a price and, if we are to avoid that price being a terrible one, we must focus on solutions that are evidence based and use the best that science has to offer

  19. As we are all aware, the application of science and technology has led to a massive increase in the release of CO2 into the atmosphere from the rapid burning of fossil fuels. Improvements in sanitation, medicine and food production have led the human family to increase in size from about 1.0 billion in 1800, to 1.6 billion in 1900, to 6.4 billion in 2000 Apart from the warming issue, the loss of species, fisheries and arable land show us very clearly that even the current situation is unsustainable.

  20. When Rwanda exploded into mass genocide, it was the most densely populated agricultural economy in the world. The Arab/Israeli conflict is as much about land and water as anything else. Unless we at least stabilize the size of the human family, war, disease, famine and, perhaps, rising water levels will do the job for/to us.

  21. TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE WORLD Most of the population increase is in the developing countries. Education is enormously important. If we can improve health, increase prosperity and provide social services that obviate the need for the “farmer’s insurance”, population sizes will stabilize. We must also change global patterns of consumption, and what we consume

  22. SCIENCE AND THE PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL How does the public intellectual rate with other public facilities? Does the public intellectual satisfy a contemporary need? The press certainly find them to be useful from time to time, especially on quiet news days

  23. What has changed since the time of Walter Murdoch? The world population doubled in size Globalization has pretty much destroyed the trade unions Newspapers are in retreat, and the “sound bite” has replaced considered political speeches News reporting has been trivialized in most broadcast formats

  24. SOME POSITIVE TRENDS Though “embedded” television and reporting can make war and bombing look like an entertainment, it can also bring home the full horror of conflict and natural disasters Blogs and open access content like the “Huffington Post” provide information that is not controlled by media barons who have motives other than supplying honest, open information

  25. WHAT IS A PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL? Someone who seeks to influence and intrigue by discussion and persuasion rather than be the exercise of power …can be authoritative but, at least in the area in question, cannot wield authority… A serving member of the government cannot function as a public intellectual though, like Malcolm Fraser and Al Gore, they may well do so after they leave office.

  26. A CLASSIFICATION: Alan Lightman Level I: Speaking and writing for the public exclusively about your discipline: This is where most scientists engage publicly. Level II:Speaking and writing about your discipline and how it relates to the broader social and cultural world: This is where Nobel scientists generally operate in the public arena Level III:By invitation only. The individual becomes elevated to a symbol....celebrities like Bono use this to good ends..the Nobel can do it

  27. Why are “public” scientists worth hearing? Though the details of science can be complex and obscure, clear thinking, experienced science communicators can explain the basics so that people understand important problems. The issues relating to global warming and environmental destruction are based in science. While an emotional commitment is important, it also helps greatly to have some understanding of the underlying, objective reality and the data

  28. How Science Protects Humanity: the way we were Modern science began less than 500 years ago. Over more than 1500 years, humanity endured a dark age of superstition and ignorance. What light there was burned in the Arab world. toxoplasmosis (cats), hydatid disease (dogs, sheep), leptospirosis (rats, dogs cows) via fecal or urine/water contamination,

  29. In mediaeval Europe, from a third to half the population of cities would die in recurring outbreaks of the plague. The “black death” of 1348-1350 killed 1.5 of 4 million people in England, and actions taken because of labor shortages led to the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 People were killed for “poisoning the wells”, or burned or drowned for practicing witchcraft. Ignorance is dangerous The germ theory of infectious disease was not developed until the 19th century, by Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch

  30. Influenza kills 20-30,000 Americans each year. About 40,00 die in road accidents THE 1917-18 PANDEMIC KILLED about 40 MILLION PEOPLE, MANY MORE THAN DIED IN THE 1914-1918 WAR. Measures based on quarantine, wearing masks and modifying behavior were largely ineffectual.

  31. THE WAY WE WERE, and now The first human influenza virus was not isolated until 1933, 15 years after the great pandemic, when Christopher Andrewes, Wilson Smith and Patrick Laidlaw transmitted it to ferrets. The ferrets fulfilled Koch’ postulates by transmitting it to Charles Stuart Harris Jeffrey Taubenberger and others have reconstructed the 1918 virus by PCR from fixed tissues at the AFIP and from frozen bodies in Alaska. It is extremely virulent in mice, and looks like it came into the human population from birds

  32. Influenza vaccines are generally effective provided they target the “right” flu virus. The problem is that the virus changes, and we get new pandemics every 2 years or so Influenza vaccines are generally made by growing the virus in embryonated hen’s eggs, killing it with formalin then cleaning the product up in different ways One reason the H5N1 bird flu is so scary is that the virus kills the eggs before new virus is made…no virus…no vaccine This problem has been solved by using a new technique called “reverse genetics”. These new flu vaccines are GMOs, and thus require careful testing before use

  33. The other protection we have Is afforded by the specific anti- influenza “designer”drugs, “Relenza”and “Tamiflu”….. zanamavir and oseltamivir These are taken at the onset of symptoms, and both shorten the course and limit the severity of the disease. Governments are stockpiling them in sufficient quantities to, at least, treat key personnel. This should be thought of as a national defence initiative Tamiflu and Relenza are in short supply, but they should soon be available for purchase (on prescription) as an insurance policy

  34. New generation flu vaccines are also being grown in tissue culture (VERO) cells In addition, “cold adapted vaccines” that grow in the 330 C environment of the upper respiratory tract but not in the 380 C lung (“flu mist”) are now in use in the USA. Any H5N1 vaccines of this type will be GMOs At present, we could only make enough vaccine to protect about a billion people, but that capacity is being increased

  35. A MODERN PLAGUE: THE SARS EPIDEMIC The first cases were identified in Guangdong Province, China in November 2003, and characterized as a severe influenza-like disease The infection was spread by people going home for the Chinese New Year. The peak of the outbreak was Feb 9 2003, with 50 cases being reported a day.

  36. The initial reaction was that it was influenza, but that turned out not to be true. This was a new disease, and people were dying. The infection seemed to target health care workers preferentially. Unlike the situation with influenza, spread to immediate family members was not such a major feature. The disease was taken from country to country by people traveling by plane, though it didn’t seem to spread to others on the plane Even so, it could be very infectious: the Toronto outbreak, was initiated by a single, infected individual.

  37. IDENTIFYING THE AETIOLOGICAL AGENT The initial response was that the H5N1 flu was back again. Then there was then some confusion because paramyxovirus -like particles were identified by EM. This was later ruled out by serology. The virus was grown out by conventional tissue culture in FRLK cells. It was then characterized as a coronavirus by EM. The genome was expanded by RT-PCR and sequenced. By April 16, 2003, the disease had been transmitted to Macaca fascicularis and Koch’s postulates had been fulfilled

  38. Food animal handlers were some of first SARS patients and had a higher incidence of SARS than others in China. Normile and Enserink, Science 301, July 18, 2003 The likely sources of infection was the Himalayan masked palm Civet cat. The human virus has a 29 bp deletion when compared to the animal isolates. It now seems that it came originally from bats

  39. TRIUMPHS AND DISASTERS We were extremely fortunate that the infection did not spread to any countries that have degraded medical systems, and poorly functioning civil administrations. It would have been catastrophic if the virus had become established in a situation where there were large numbers of immunosuppressed people eg in countries with high AIDS prevalence. The disease also had a massive emotional impact, and the resultant fear caused economic problems that went far beyond the severity of the problem.

  40. The economic costs were enormous SARS Cases 8437 Deaths 813 Countries 32 Cost US$20 + Billion

  41. BOTTOM LINE The SARS experience provides a very good example of the way that science protects humanity. This epidemic was handled professionally and well by the established global influenza network operating out of the Geneva-based World Health Organization of the United Nations. The scientists used both classical and avant garde virology techniques, and the relatively low infectivity of the virus allowed quarantine measures to work. It is a great example of internationalism at its best.

  42. Putting the Nobel Prize in perspective