Inspiring smarter brain research in Australia

Melbourne, 24-26 July 2013 #TMThinkTank

A brain visualisation is available below:







The Academy has been hosting annual High Flyers Think Tanks on nationally important topics since 2002. The purpose of these events is to bring together outstanding early- to mid-career researchers with expertise in a broad range of disciplines to engage in discussing novel applications of science and technology, and to identify gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed.

This year, the Academy is inviting 60 of the brightest young researchers from around Australia and neighbouring countries to explore how to integrate different areas of brain research. Internationally renowned senior scientists will also provide insights into current perspectives in their fields.

A critical issue facing neuroscience is the integration of many exciting fields of
research that interact with each other, but presently are separate. While some problems require single disciplinary research, areas with major societal implications such as intellectual disability or ageing call for interdisciplinary approaches. Integrated efforts are needed to develop methods for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease and to understand the basic mechanisms of the brain.

The 2013 Think Tank, Inspiring smarter brain research in Australia, will be a unique forum for bridging

research disciplines and institutes. Leading early- to mid-career researchers will examine how we can improve our understanding of the human brain and aim for ambitious goals that require advances in science and technology.

The 2013 Think Tank is generously supported by the Theo Murphy (Australia) Fund, which is administered by the UK Royal Society. The Academy is delighted to have this funding available to enable some of Australia’s brightest young scientists to engage in fresh thinking about a fundamental issue for our nation’s future and to develop networks that will enrich their careers.

Professor Suzanne Cory AC PresAA FRS
President, Australian Academy of Science

Day 1

  • Session 1 - Opening session

Welcome and keynote address

Day 2

  • Session 2 - Presentations session

The keynote address and the plenary presentations are aimed at stimulating lateral thought in the discussions during the Think Tank, rather than providing comprehensive coverage of the theme or any of the four specialist topics.

  • Session 3 - Breakout groups (extends until morning of Day 3)

Each discussion group will prepare the beginning of a report on how developments they predict in their field will impact neuroscience, and perhaps science as a whole.
Each participant is assigned to one of four breakout groups and each group will be chaired by the relevant topic speaker(s). Each group is made up of 15 researchers from across Australia and neighbouring countries with a mix of skills and experience, in order to stimulate lateral thinking and to challenge the participants to extend themselves and think dynamically. Two participants are preselected to act as the group’s rapporteurs. The role of the rapporteurs is to collate the group’s discussions and distil the discourse into a 15-minute presentation. The breakout groups are asked to examine and address their group’s discussion questions but are also encouraged to move beyond these questions to other topics identified during the discourse.

Day 3

  • Session 4: Rapporteurs’ presentations

The final half-day of the Think Tank will enable the group rapporteurs to synthesise the discussions and present a series of recommendations from each breakout group. There will be opportunities for questions and discussion after each presentation and during the general discussion.
At the end of the afternoon a closed session with the Steering Committee, experts, rapporteurs and Academy secretariat will summarise the outcomes of the meeting and plan the production of the Recommendations document.


The Recommendations from the Think Tank will be published in a report and formally launched in late 2013. These Recommendations will offer options for a ‘way forward’ and subsequently can be used to underpin policy development and research prioritisation. As has been the case for previous Think Tanks, it is expected that this report will be instrumental in influencing national policy development through government agencies.

Steering committee


Breakout groups