Can we change the world in three minutes?


Can we change the world in three minutes? Three young Australian researchers will try to do just that, at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, an international forum for the next generation of outstanding thinkers and innovators. They will each present a three-minute pitch alongside 100 other finalists from more than 55 labs across the globe. It’s very exciting. It’s an amazing opportunity. I’ll be able to talk to different people, so potentially there might be a company that is interested in commercialising the platform. Dr Elena Schneider-Futschik has developed a platform that measures drug concentrations in Cystic Fibrosis patients to evaluate and predict patient outcomes. So patients currently only have life expectancies of about 40 years, which is not good enough just yet. So we still need to work on giving them longer life expectancies and helping them live better lives. Kate Secombe is investigating the gut microbiome’s role in personalising cancer treatments to prevent intestinal toxicity, which can have a debilitating effect on a patient’s quality of life. Being able to predict gut toxicity from a range of cancer treatments is going to save money, it’s going to save people’s embarrassments, save pain. Just really be able to increase people’s quality of life during cancer treatment. Rhys Pirie has developed a chemical recycling process to take waste glass, which is currently going to landfill, and turn it into everyday products, like fertilisers, detergents and even toothpaste. One of the things I like to say is: “we don’t have a waste problem, we have a lack of incentive to recycle.” So if we can increase the value of the waste products that we’re trying to recycle then it provides that incentive to actually use it in useful products. From the side effects of medical treatments to a global waste problem, which of these walls will fall next?

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