Above, L-R: Jie Xu, Chinese Embassy; Professor Tieniu Tan, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Professor Andrew Holmes, Australian Academy of Science; Professor Mary O’Kane, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering; Professor Chunli Bai, president, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Professor Suzanne Cory, president, Australian Academy of Science; Professor Jinghua Cao, Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Bolun Ning, Chinese Academy of Science (image: Nancy Pritchard, Australian Academy of Science).

A delegation of top Chinese scientists have met with their Australian counterparts in Canberra to examine how best to use the human genome, stem cells and smart technologies to extend life and promote healthy ageing.

The Australian Academy of Science (AAS) played host to the ninth annual Australia-China symposium earlier this week, where researchers from the AAS, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences shared information about the latest advances in strategies to try to ensure that people live long lives in good health.

Chinese and Australian researchers considered the burden of disease and presented new advances in infectious diseases; stem cells and regenerative medicine; genomics and personalised medicine; and medical bionics and nanotechnology.

Symposium co-chair and secretary for science policy at the AAS, Professor Bob Williamson, emphasised the importance of using recent advances in science to improve the quality of life of older people throughout the world.

“Many people do not realise that during the past 50 years, not only has China become a world economic power, but its population, especially in the cities, lives about as long as we do, and suffers from the same burden of chronic disease associated with ageing,” Prof Williamson said.

“It’s important to use our best scientific knowledge to help implement intervention strategies to reduce the burden of these diseases.

“This has become possible thanks to advances from the human genome project, which permit early diagnosis of gene mutations such as those causing cancer, and the use of new techniques based on stem cells, medical bionic ears and eyes, and nanotechnology.”

Prof Williamson welcomed the senior Chinese scientists, saying that sharing data at the symposium would lead to a clearer understanding of how to promote healthy ageing.

“Even more importantly, meetings such as this kick-start collaborations between scientists in Australia and China, and will help both countries to find new solutions to ensure healthy ageing through science, technology and engineering,” he said.

“Australia and China together can lead our region in providing innovative responses to this challenge, reducing the economic and social burden on families, communities and nations.”

The symposium was organised by the Australian Academy of Science, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and Chinese Academy of Sciences, with financial support from the Australian Government.

The conclusions reached by the participants aimed to provide a platform for enhancing collaboration between the two countries through innovative science, technological and engineering solutions.

The joint Academies’ symposia have been held annually since 2004 in China and Australia, on topics of national importance such as energy, water, biotechnology and sustainability.

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