Genetics congress tipped to be Australia's biggest science event

By Iain Scott
Tuesday, 24 September, 2002

The Genetics Congress 2003 will be the biggest scientific event to have ever been held in Australia, organisers claim.

Secretary-general Dr Philip Batterham, of the University of Melbourne's Department of Genetics, said the conference's impact would be felt in wider society as well as the scientific community.

"In terms of participants, it's hard to tell," Batterham said. "But in terms of the public impact it will be enormous."

The congress, to be held in Melbourne next July 6-11, recently issued a call for papers and Batterham, who has been involved with planning the event since 1996, said he was "thrilled with the progress". The first congress, which takes place every five years, was held in 1899, and the event has never been held in the southern hemisphere before.

As well as the scientific component, the congress will also feature public forums, art exhibitions and theatre events, Batterham said.

Although most delegates are expected to come from overseas, Batterham said the congress's location meant it would have an Australian flavour. "We would like to think there's a sense of Australian friendliness and informality," he said.

Prominent Australian researchers are among the plenary speakers, including Jenny Graves of the Research School of Biological Sciences and Rob Saint at ANU. Among the international speakers is James Watson, who, along with Francis Crick, was one of the first proponents of a double helix structure for DNA. The congress will mark the 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick's discovery.

Another prominent speaker will be Francis Collins, the former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

The deadline for abstracts is March 5, 2003, and early-bird registration for the congress is on March 6. Abstracts should be submitted online at

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