JCSMR Director’s ‘Health through Discovery’ Public Lecture Series: Science in the public space: distinguishing truth from falsehood

Laureate Professor Peter Doherty, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, The University of Melbourne.

For those who are unable to attend, Big Issues-Big Talk are providing a live webcast as part of the Canberra centenary Celebrations.

In the age of the internet where people are increasingly disillusioned with authoritative “priesthoods”, how does the broader community access the important findings of science and understand what is actually happening? Some science-based advances that greatly influence our lives, like the i-phone and on-line shopping, just sneak up on us, even though they may cause massive disruption to jobs and established ways of doing things. The way the internet works can also over-emphasize untoward events that may, for instance be an occasional consequence of vaccination or some other medical intervention. What is the true risk/benefit equation? Then we may be barraged with deliberate misinformation relating to areas like anthropogenic climate change. Who is telling the truth, and how do we separate the informed and sincere observer from the snake oil salesmen?

Peter Doherty trained as a veterinarian, spent a decade researching infectious diseases of domestic animals and has, for the past 40+ years been involved in basic biomedical research. He and his Swiss colleague Rolf Zinkernagel shared the 1996 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for a discovery made at The John Curtin School of Medial Research and the ideas they developed (from 1973-5) concerning the nature of cell-mediated immunity and transplantation. Named Australian of the Year in 1997, he became committed to the public communication of science and has, while continuing his involvement with talented young researchers, written four “trade” books: “The beginner’s guide to winning the Nobel Prize” (2005), “A light history of hot air” (2007), "Sentinel chickens: what birds tell us about our health and the world” (2012), and “Pandemics: what everyone needs to know” (2013).  His next book will be on science in the public space.   This lecture is followed by light refreshments.RSVP by Wednesday 24 April.

Date & time

5.30–6.15pm 30 April 2013


The Finkel Lecture Theatre The John Curtin School of Medical Research, Building 131, Garran Road, ANU


 RSVP: Dr Madeleine Nicol
 +61 2 612 52577

Updated:  17 October 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, JCSMR/Page Contact:  Web Manager