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Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity: a looming healthcare crisis?

A Sydney Ideas, Westmead Forum



Conference Room Westmead Institute for Medical Research

Co-presented with the Westmead Institute for Medical Research celebrating 20 years of research excellence

A Sydney Science Festival event for National Science Week

The most common causes of death in Australia are chronic, non-communicable diseases related to lifestyle. Despite great improvements in treatments and outcomes, more Australians are developing diseases like type 2 Diabetes than ever before, and the total cost to the health system of diabetes alone is around $15bn per year.

The risk of developing illness like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and liver disease all increase with obesity and lack of exercise. Chronic illness is “essentially a multisystem disorder” which begins with an unhealthy lifestyle. The outcomes for people with these illnesses can include kidney failure, blindness, limb amputation and ultimately death, and the costs to our health system of treatment and care are enormous. Researchers are increasingly concerned that diabetes and the consequences of diabetes may break the healthcare budget, if no action is taken.

How do these illnesses interact? What are the factors associated with increased risk of chronic illness, and what can we do to reduce our risk? And what can scientists, health care providers and our community as a whole do to reduce the risk, and the cost, for the benefit of everyone?

For Sydney Science Festival 2016 we bring together a panel of leading researchers to discuss the latest science of this healthcare crisis.


Professor Jenny Gunton is the Director of the Centre for Diabetes and Obesity Research at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research and a Professor and Head of the Discipline of Medicine at the University of Sydney’s Westmead Clinical School. In 2012 she became the President of the Australian Diabetes Society.

Professor Jacob George is the Robert W. Storr Professor of Hepatic Medicine at the Storr Liver Centre, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, University of Sydney and Head of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Westmead Hospital and Director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Services for the Western Sydney Local Health District.

Associate Professor Germaine Wong is an academic transplant nephrologist at Westmead Hospital, in Sydney and a Principal Research Fellow at the University of Sydney. She has established, led and co-ordinated a number of large scale population-based observational studies that assessed the impact of social determinants and outcomes in people with chronic kidney disease and kidney transplants.

Professor Chris Liddle (panel chair) is a leading researcher in diseases of the liver, based at the Storr Liver Centre, Westmead Institute of Medical Research and Westmead Hospital and is also Professor of Clinical Pharmacology & Hepatology at the University of Sydney. Over the past decade Chris' main area of research has been in the functional genomics of human liver metabolism.

Sydney Ideas, Westmead is a new initiative intended to contribute to the inspiring intellectual and cultural atmosphere of the Westmead health services, research and education precinct. For more information please see this page.

Free and open to all with online registration required here.