Posts Tagged ‘Science in the News’

Last night, on my way from work to watching my girl play beach volleyball, I stopped to watch the Space Shuttle pass over for one of the last times. My parents had called me about it and mentioned that I had watched the shuttle fly over for the first time when I was a little girl. My mum even said that I had asked “Is it going to land at the coast?” So I pulled over and parked by the local train station, commuters rushing past me, and I looked up into the darkening sky for a light in the west. Then I saw it! A bright light moving relatively slowly across the sky. It looked like a plane, but there were no flashing lights and it appeared to move differently to a plane. And so I saw it! a piece of history in the making. I can tell my children one day about it. Science nerd? Yes!

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As a reader of lesbian magazines, websites and blogs I don’t see many, if any, articles by science journalists or writers. Why isn’t there coverage of science in the lesbian press? Is it because it is seen as being boring or nerdy? Or is it just because the readership would not be interested? I am of the opinion that this should change. After all scientific discovery has contributed a significant amount to modern society.

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The current multiple outbreaks in South-East Queensland, Australia of the bat-borne Hendra virus sparked has my keen interest. Reading article on the web, including the transcript of the ABC’s program Australian Story, I was interested and inspired to find that a key researcher on the virus is woman. Her name is Deborah Middlemen and she works at the CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, Victoria. As a scientist, microbiologist, a woman and a feminist I think this is rather cool. She certainly an inspiration.

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Although I may be slightly biased in my opinion (as I have worked in the health research field) about the proposed funding cuts to medical research by the Australian Government, this is a very important issue which may affect not only Australians but the people of the world.

Medical research in Australia has contributed to many important breakthroughs in medicine, microbiology, cancer treatment, development of new drugs etc. For example an Australian cancer researcher developed the cervical cancer vaccine and an Australian chemist developed the drug Rulenza that is used to treat influenza. Australian doctors discovered the gastrointestinal bacterium Helicobacter pylori and demonstrated that this was the causative agent of gastritis, ulcers and gastric cancer. And to follow on from this microbiological breakthrough, Australian veterinary pathologists and microbiologists identified the Henda virus that emerged in Brisbane in the 1990’s and has proved fatal for humans and horses.

These are only a few of the amazing achievements of scientists and medical researchers in Australia. Where would we be without the important work they have conducted? Where would their research projects be without funding from government, industry and research foundations.

As a whole science and medical science has had a huge impact on the health and well being of the world’s population. Scientific and medical research is at the forefront of developing vaccines, drugs, treatment options, prevention methods and expanding general knowledge.

Funding is an essential tool in conducting medical (and scientific) research. Without funding researchers would be without a salary (or would be underpaid), could not hire staff to work on their research projects and couldn’t afford to buy the necessary reagents, consumables and equipment to conduct their experiments and work. Researchers may also miss out on recruiting new postgrad students to undertake research which would mean less research being conducted.

I myself don’t have direct experience in applying for grants for research projects or to provide a position for a postdoc, but I was a postgrad research student and I did receive scholarships etc to undertake my research. Without these I wouldn’t have been able to afford to do postgrad studies.

I heard a speech by a cancer survivor who was also a medical researcher and she had a poignant message. Her life, her health and her career centered around medical research and she advocated the continued funding for this field of research. 

I was pleased that there was widespread coverage of the cuts and that the general public were made aware of the importance of medical research and how these funding cuts could affect this important work.

I’m not sure if the funding cuts are still going to go ahead, but I hope the government will listen to the protests and petitions from medical researchers to not carry out these cuts.

There is an ipetition against cuts in health and medical research hosted by Research Australia. Check out this link – http://www.openforum.com.au/content/health-and-medical-research-funding-cuts

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I just found this page about science in the news published by the Australian Academy of Science. I think this is great! More information about science for the general public the better.

NOVA – Science in the News – http://www.science.org.au/nova/

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