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Distinguished Lecture Series

Welcoming leading minds from Australia and around the world
The Sydney ID Distinguished Lecture Series brings experts together and focuses on world-leading infectious diseases research.

Join us in person or online on Tuesday, 5 July 22, 12pm - 1pm (AEST) for the latest lecture in our Distinguished Lecture Series as Dr Rick Brennan outlines the growing health risks arising from epidemics/pandemics, conflict, natural disasters and climate change. Progress and challenges in responding to COVID-19 and the increasing emergency burden, with focus on the Eastern Mediterranean Region will be highlighted. Recommendations and initiatives to strengthen global health security, drawing on lessons of COVID-19 will be provided, along with the main resolutions from the recent World Health Assembly.

About the speaker

Rick Brennan is Regional Emergency Director for WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office based in Cairo, Egypt.  He oversees WHO’s support to 22 countries for emergency preparedness and response, including for the COVID-19 pandemic, major humanitarian crises, as well as multiple other emergencies.   Previously he spent seven years at WHO headquarters, including as Director of Emergency Operations, Director of Ebola Response and Coordination, and Director of Humanitarian Response.   

Rick has extensive experience in emergencies in over 40 countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.  He received his medical degree from the University of Sydney and completed emergency medicine training at Westmead Hospital.  Following an MPH from Johns Hopkins University, he worked with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on humanitarian and civil-military issues.  Thereafter Rick was Health Director of the International Rescue Committee in New York for 10 years, overseeing global humanitarian health operations.  Prior to joining WHO in 2012, he worked with JSI Research and Training in Liberia leading a large post-conflict health system support project.  

Rick has made several important contributions to advance health emergency preparedness and response, including leading the development of WHO’s Emergency Response Framework.  For seven years he represented WHO and the health sector on the United Nations Emergency Directors Group.


Catchup on other events in this series

The latest webinar in our Distinguished Lecture Series - a webinar by Professor Linfa Wang entitled "Bats as reservoirs of viral disease and keystone species", was held on 18 May 2022.

About the speaker

Professor Wang is an international leader in the field of emerging zoonotic viruses and virus-host interaction. Professor Linfa Wang's current research focuses on why bats are such an important reservoir for emerging viruses and on how we can learn from bats to make us more resilience to infection and diseases in general. He is a professor of the Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School, and the executive director of PREPARE, Ministry of Health, Singapore.

This webinar was held on Thursday, 17 March:  7:00pm-8:15pm (AEDT)

Catchup on this webinar where Sydney ID, the Australasian Society of Infectious Diseases (ASID) and Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists (ANZAN), welcomed Professor Tom Solomon who presented on "30 years working on Japanese encephalitis".

About the speakers:

  • Professor Solomon is a global authority on JEV and will draw on his own experience working in Vietnam and that of his networks to critically evaluate the status of our understanding of JEV disease.
  • A/Prof Cameron Webb has over 25 years experience in mosquito and mosquito-borne disease research and management through work with NSW Health Pathology and University of Sydney. Cameron provides advice to local, state, and federal government agencies on mosquito control and surveillance programs as well as public health interventions to reduce the pest and public health threats to the community.
  • A/Prof Deborah Friedman has been with the Victorian Department of Health since 2020. She is the new Deputy Chief Health Officer in Communicable Diseases. Previously she was a Deputy Chief Health Officer in the COVID response and the Medical Director of the Infection Prevention Control and Response (IPCAR) Team. She is also an infectious diseases specialist at Barwon Health in Geelong and an Associate Professor at Deakin University.
  • Professor Kristine Macartney is the Director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), a paediatric infectious disease consultant at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney. Her research interests include all aspects of vaccine preventable disease research, particularly policy development, vaccine safety and prevention of viral diseases.

Watch the webinar now

Watch the webinar now

This webinar was held on Wednesday, 24 November 2021.

About the speaker

Professor Benjamin Cowling joined the School of Public Health at Hong Kong University in 2004 and has been the Head of the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics since 2013. He is also the co-director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control. Prof Cowling’s research focus is infectious disease epidemiology. He has designed and implemented large field studies of influenza transmission in the community, also evaluating the effectiveness of control measures. His latest research has focused on COVID-19 transmission and control, influenza vaccination effectiveness, and the durability of immune protection at the individual and population level.

Watch the webinar now

This webinar was held on Friday, 10 September 2021. 

About the webinar

Co-hosted with the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), we welcomed Professor Sir Andrew Pollard for the first session in our Distinguished Lecture Series.

Professor Pollard drew on data from his own group and others to critically reflect on the lessons that the UK has learnt in dealing with COVID-19 and the delta variant of the SARS CoV-2 virus in particular.

About the speaker

Professor Andrew Pollard is Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and led the paediatric infectious disease clinical service (2001-2021) at Oxford Children’s Hospital.

He was chief investigator of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine clinical trials in 2020, which led to authorisation of the vaccine for use in more than 170 countries.

Professor Pollard chairs the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, is a member of WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts, and chaired the European Medicines Agency scientific advisory group on vaccines (2012–2020). 

He received a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2021 for services to Public Health, especially in the pandemic.