Graeme Clark Oration

The Graeme Clark Oration brings to Melbourne some of the world’s greatest science leaders and is attended by local leaders from medical and biomedical research institutes, the academic community, the Australian and Victorian Governments, the philanthropic sector, representatives from the diplomatic corps, business leaders and some of our brightest Year 11 and 12 science students and their teachers.

This year a small contingent of Year 10 and 11 Berwick Grammar and St Margaret’s School students attended the lecture by Nobel Laureate Dr Harold Varmus.  Dr Varmus received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1989 for his work showing how viruses can cause cancer.  Dr Varmus shared with the students how he came to be a scientist, after his initial degree in Literature.  He then went on to explain the nature and practice of science and his passion for evidence based research and open communication of findings.  There was then time for questions.

Dr Varmus explained why the nature of cancer, in that there are various causes and many variations in the disease itself that there is unlikely to ever be a cure.  He spoke passionately about the need for funding for research both from companies with an economic interest, governments and philanthropic entities.  Dr Varmus stressed that science is an exceptionally competitive field and that to be successful Scientists need to work collaboratively and rigorously with people all over the world.

At the end of the presentation, we were all disappointed that we had not elected to take the students for dinner to return for his presentation to the public.

In addition, prior to the lecture, the boys and girls were able to explore a showcase from Melbourne’s top medical research institutes including Monash, Melbourne and Swinbourne Universities and the CSIRO.

We all left feeling totally engaged.  The boys felt that it was amazing and understood the overall messages about perseverance and rigour.

We look forward to the 2018 Graeme Clark Oration.

Ms Delanie Lewis