Question: What are your latest discoveries from the aspects of science and how will it affect humanity?

  1. The latest thing my lab has discovered is that certain genes are turned off in cancer, and its not just one gene here and there, it can be whole chunks of the chromosome that is turned off – and that chunk of chromosome can contain lots of lots of genes.

    The REASON these genes get turned off in cancer is because of “epigenetics”. Epigenetics is just a fancy word to describe the things that control which genes are turned on and which genes are turned off in your cells. For some reason, epigenetics goes wrong in cancer. What we don’t yet know is HOW or WHY it goes wrong. But, we are working on it, and if we work it out, we might be able to stop cancer forming, or help design new treatments that will stop cancer from growing.

    The other thing that is really interesting is that we know that epigenetics can be changed by your diet. That’s why pregnant mothers take folate supplements while they are pregnant – to make sure the epigenetics of the baby is formed correctly.

    There are lots and lots of scientific questions linking epigenetics, diet and disease. Its creating a bit of a buzz at the moment because everyone wants to know what to eat so that they prevent diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, and ALSO prevent these diseases in their children when they grow up. The problem is that we don’t yet know what foods have the biggest effect, and how much you need to eat to have an effect but lots of scientists are working on it!


  2. Hi Tishan,

    We look at how much water is available for people to use in south-eastern Australia. I guess our discoveries aren’t earth-shattering by comparison with what some people do, but I think that making sure there is enough water for everyone to use is pretty important.

    If we ran out of water, it would be pretty scary!


  3. Hi tishan, shadae, oliviak, breeismee and lemontree2,

    I worked for a few years on finding out more detail about the “shape” of galaxies, and in particular about the dark matter that you find in and around galaxies.

    Dark matter is a strange sort of stuff which we don’t really understand yet (it isn’t ‘normal matter’, which is made of protons, electrons, and so on) but which makes up about 80% of all the matter in the universe.

    The work I did was, to borrow Posty’s phrase, not earth-shattering, and if someone did make what physicists and astronomers would consider an earth-shattering discovery (like saying once and for all WHAT dark matter definitely IS), it would still not affect your day-to-day life like Kate’s and David’s would. But some people might think it would be “just nice to know” what 80% of the matter in the universe actually IS!