The Future of Health: What Lies Ahead?

On 22 November 2017, journalist Tony Jones host of ABC’s Q&A, moderated a panel discussion with four University of Melbourne academics on The Future of Health. The event was held in Sydney and attended by NSW-based alumni and future students of the University of Melbourne.

Group “In 1890 the average life expectancy in Australia was 49 years. A child born today can expect to live to the age of 82. And more and more people will live long enough to celebrate their 100th birthday.

The impact this longevity will have on our health budgets is yet to be calculated. If that’s not challenging enough, right now the current cohort of 10-24 year-olds, 1.8billion people, is the largest the world has ever seen. And yet when it comes to their health this group is also the most neglected.

On top of this, by the end of this century, climate change could turn half a billion people into environmental migrants. And it is some of the poorest nations on the planet will be hit hardest.

Meanwhile, in affluent Australia, personalised medicine is becoming increasingly sophisticated. We are at the forefront of medical research in epilepsy and pancreatic cancer and are joined on this panel by leaders in these areas. Epilepsy is the second most common neurological condition in Australia, after stroke. Within 22 years, pancreatic cancer is going to become the second most prevalent cancer in Australia.

We are innovating but are we doing it quickly enough? How do we ensure that a long life is also an adaptable and healthy one filled with purpose that will benefit society?

Four University of Melbourne academics are working on some game-changing answers.”

Listen to the panel discussion.


Professor Sean Grimmond is a cancer specialist. He’s the Director and Bertalli Chair in Cancer Medicine, at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Cancer Research.

Dr Susan Sawyer is a paediatrician who holds the Geoff and Helen Handbury Chair of Adolescent Health at the University of Melbourne and is the Director of the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital. She is also the President of the International Association for Adolescent Health.

Professor Mark Cook is a specialist in epilepsy. He’s the Director of the Graeme Clark Institute; the Sir John Eccles Chair of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne; and the Director, Department of Neurology, St Vincent’s Hospital.

Dr Celia McMichael is a Lecturer in Health Geography at the Faculty of Science. Her specialty is migration and health, and she has worked considerably with the World Health Organisation