Club Melbourne Ambassadors secure DOHaD World Congress

June 2016

Professors John Bertram and Euan Wallace co-chaired the successful Melbourne bid to host the World Congress on Developmental Origins of Health and Disease.

Announced last month, Melbourne has won the bid to host the 11th World Congress on Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on 20-23 October 2019.

The proposed theme for the congress is “transforming the future from the first moment of life,” which is exactly what the 1000 estimated delegates will wish to achieve. The aim of DOHaD is to combat non-communicable diseases by establishing healthy behaviours early in life.

Local, national and international scientists, as well as clinical researchers, obstetricians, paediatricians, public health professionals and policy leaders will gather at MCEC to discuss how early life (conception, pregnancy, infancy and childhood) is not only a time to mitigate immediate risks to health, but how it is also a critical period to promote health and prevention of diseases later in life.

The thought behind the congress is that many of the non-communicable diseases that plague society (type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer, mental illness etc.) can be reduced with early life invention.

There is substantial evidence that indicates that promoting a ‘healthy start to life’ can reduce the risk of both early and later non-communicable diseases with wide social and economic benefits.

The story behind the bid
Club Melbourne Ambassadors, Professor John Bertram and Professor Euan Wallace, co-chaired the successful Melbourne bid on behalf of the DOHaD Society of Australia and New Zealand.  They had assistance from a local organising committee, as well as letters of support from government and academia.

Professor Bertram is the Head of the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology at Monash University and a Group Leader in the Development and Stem Cells Program, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. Professor Wallace is the Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Monash University, and is also the Director of Obstetric Services, Monash Health, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Monash Medical Centre.

It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that Melbourne was given the nod to host the international event, even though they were up against many competitive bids. After all, Melbourne is Australia’s knowledge, research and innovation capital, not to mention a major player on the international stage. 

Melbourne has a strong global reputation in medical research and is renowned for its expertise in a number of fields, including stem cells, infectious diseases, cancer, neuroscience, clinical trials and agricultural biotechnology. It is also widely recognised for its collaborative model across basic and clinical research. 

But it also houses impressive infrastructure. Victoria boasts 186 biotechnology companies, 10 major medical research institutes and more than 11 major teaching hospitals with a robust biotechnology sector that attracts eminent researchers from around the world.

Hosting DOHaD 2019 further establishes the city as the place to hold a major international medical convention, and provides more evidence as to why Melbourne has been voted Australasia’s ‘Leading Meetings and Conference Destination’ for the past three years at the World Travel Awards.