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.

Catchup on events in this series


This webinar was held on Wednesday, 22 May 2024, 4pm - 5pm (AEST)

Catch up on this webinar as Prof Thijs Kuiken discusses the currently circulating high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) virus of the subtype H5 causing illness and death in wild and domestic birds and mammals, as well as in humans. This virus evolved from the Goose/Guangdong lineage of HPAI H5 virus, which emerged in commercial poultry in China in 1996, spilled over into wild birds, and spread through Asia, Europe, Africa by 2006, North America by 2021, South America by 2023, and Antarctica starting in 2024. So far, only Oceania has remained free of HPAI H5 virus. To prevent more of such emerging infectious disease events in wildlife, livestock and humans from happening in the future, a paradigm shift is needed in infectious disease prevention and control.

About the speaker

Thijs Kuiken is Professor of Comparative Pathology at the Department of Viroscience, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam. He graduated as a veterinarian at Utrecht University in 1988, obtained his Ph.D. in 1998 from the University of Saskatchewan on Newcastle disease virus in cormorants, and qualified as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists in 2002. His current research interests include highly pathogenic avian influenza at the interface between poultry, people and wildlife; the pathogenesis, pathology and epidemiology of virus infections in bats compared to humans; and how to implement transformative changes in the health sciences to make the transition to a sustainable human society.

11 April 2024  (event not recorded): health risks from the climate crisis as well as major health benefits that will emerge from transitioning from fossil fuels. Some of the latest developments, both in research and in policy, will also be discussed.  We will also hear from Dr Aditya Vyas who will discuss the " MJA–Lancet Countdown 2023 Report on Health and Climate Change: Sustainability Needed in Australia’s Healthcare Sector". This report draws on the expertise of 14 institutions from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Vietnam to provide the most up to date assessment of climate and health in Australia.

About the speaker

Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH, is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor & John P. Holton Chair of Health and the Environment, and served as inaugural director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 2011-2022. His faculty appointments are in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Population Health Sciences. Dr. Patz co-chaired the health report for the first Congressionally mandated US National Assessment on Climate Change and for 15 years, served as a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the organization that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Some of his other awards include: the Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellows Award; shared Zayed International Prize for the Environment; Fulbright Scholarship; American Public Health Association’s Homer Calver Award for environmental health leadership; Case Western School of Medicine Alumni Special Recognition award; Chanchlani Global Health Research Award; elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. Professor Patz has taught and conducted research on the health effects of climate change and global environmental change, “Planetary Health,” for more than 25 years and has published over 200 science publications and several textbooks on the subject.


15 June 2023 (event not recorded): Anti-science is now a major and lethal societal force, with an urgency to seek innovative solutions. Enormous progress in vaccinating children and adults with current and new vaccines has been hampered by a resurgence in emerging and neglected diseases due to a confluence of social determinants - political instability, urbanisation, human migrations - and climate change.

About the speaker

Peter Hotez MD PhD DSc (hon) FAAP FASTM is Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine where he is also the Texas Children's Hospital Chair in Tropical Pediatrics, Co-Director of the Texas Children's Center for Vaccine Development, and founding Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine.  He is the author of more than 650 scientific papers indexed on PubMed, and 5 single-authored books including Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel's Autism and Preventing the Next Pandemic (Johns Hopkins University Press).  His forthcoming book with JHU Press is entitled The Deadly Rise of Anti-Science: A Scientist's Warning.  Prof. Hotez is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been honored by the AMA, AAMC, and AAAS.  He appears frequently on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, ABC, and other media outlets. 


This webinar was held on Wednesday, 26 April 2023, 12pm - 1pm (AEST).

Catchup on this webinar as Prof Greg Dore outlines how the development of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy for hepatitis C has been one of the major clinical advances in recent decades. Initial evaluation trials excluded people who inject drugs (PWID), a key affected population. Professor Dore and his group at Kirby Institute, through a series of clinical trials, provided pivotal information on the safety and efficacy of DAA therapy in PWID populations in Australia and internationally. Their research led to the removal of barriers to DAA access for highly marginalized drug user populations globally.

About the speaker

Scientia Professor Dore is Head, Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, and Infectious Diseases Physician, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia. He has been involved in viral hepatitis and HIV epidemiological and clinical research, clinical care and public health policy for 20 years. He has developed extensive national and international collaborations, and is internationally recognized in the areas of HCV natural history and epidemiology, therapeutic strategies for acute and chronic HCV infection, particularly among people who inject drugs, and HCV elimination strategies. Professor Dore established the St Vincent’s Hospital viral hepatitis service in 1999, and has led its development into one of the leading national and international HCV treatment services, with a particular focus on marginalised populations including people who inject drugs and homeless persons.

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This webinar was held on Tuesday, 5 July 22, 12pm - 1pm (AEST).

Catchup on this webinar 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.

This webinar was held on 18 May 2022.

Catchup on this webinar by Professor Linfa Wang entitled "Bats as reservoirs of viral disease and keystone species".

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.

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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.

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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.