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Tuesday May 25, 2021

 

Dale Godfrey


What was your first job?
Newspaper delivery boy (The Herald – an afternoon newspaper back in the day).
 
What are you currently watching on TV?
In between TV shows right now, but just finished Schitt’s Creek, which was excellent (yes, I know, it is quite old now, but I was a slow starter).
 
Which celebrity would you like to meet for a cup of coffee?
Jerry Seinfeld.
 
What would you sing at Karaoke night?
Paradise by the dashboard light. In fact, I did sing that at a Karaoke night, alongside David Tarlinton, another ASI past president. We received mix reports, but some people just don't have a good ear for talent.
 
What's the longest you've gone without sleep (and why)?
Roughly 5 days give or take, when I was trying to write up my honours thesis. After the first couple of days, time speeds up and you can spend a whole day writing just a few words…. I also received mixed reports about that… and again, some honours thesis reviewers just don't have an eye for quality writing.
 
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It's a toss-up between a nice home cooked roast lamb dinner like my mum used to make on a Sunday night, and, a warm (not too hot) four’n twenty pie with white crow tomato sauce squeezed through a hole in the pastry lid… (I’m from Geelong)…
 
What words of wisdom do you want to share with young and emerging Immunologists?
Look carefully at your data for the unexpected or unexplained, and when you see something you can’t explain, don't dismiss it – go after it. In every experiment, there will probably be hints of things we do not yet understand. A large part of my research has been based on trying to understand different populations of lymphocytes that are revealed using flow cytometry, starting with dissecting early thymocyte development into a 4 stage process (DN1-DN4) back in the early 90s, right through to last week when we just had a paper accepted for determining that CD1 family members bind to CD36 family members.
“Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.” (Albert Szent-Gyorgyi).
 
What is the best thing about being an ASI Member?
Being part of a large scientific community with a very rich history in Australia; where you can present and discuss not only your own research to an audience of really smart and generally friendly and supportive colleagues, but also, if you want to get more involved, there are plenty of opportunities to join local, state or national committees to help shape and promote activities of the society. And, of course, the Limerick Competition and Lafferty Debate.
 
You have been a longstanding ASI member, former ASI President (2013-2014) and more recently appointed as an ASI Honorary Life Member for your major contributions.  We thank you immensely for being a part of the organisational committee for ICI 2016 in Melbourne, which placed ASI in an advantageous financial position, in addition to highlighting Australian and New Zealand Immunology on a global stage.

Over the years, how has ASI changed?
Thank you! ASI has evolved a great deal over the last few decades but retains a special sense of community that we must always try to preserve. I joined in 1987 and I remember my first ASI meeting in Canberra (Feb 1988 I think it was). ASI annual scientific meetings were always the major event in the ASI year… and I was lucky (unlucky?) enough to be given an oral workshop presentation. I was extremely nervous and gave a presentation on thymic stromal cells that went way over time because I was on autopilot and couldn't deviate from my planned delivery even though time was running out. The chair of the next session, Mathew Vadas, had to stand in front of the slide projector to shut me up. Not a great start for my role as an ASI member. He probably didn't realise that he was dealing with a future ASI president.

Back then, ASI meetings were typically held in smaller venues, without so many international guest speakers, and mostly managed by committees of members rather than PCOs. Obviously, things have changed and grown a lot since then, but I think ASI has retained its sense of community, largely through the fantastic efforts of the various committees and councils that have strived to keep ASI meetings as vibrant and enjoyable events in the immunology calendar. I still enjoy ASI annual scientific meetings more than any other. Great science, great fun, well-organised programs where you have some time to talk to people over lunch or dinner, and always lots of attention to making delegates feel welcome with food and drink at several events throughout the meeting. This even strongly shaped the 2016 ICI conference in Melbourne, which in my view, was one of the greatest ICI meetings I have attended, and certainly trumped the famous meeting in Budapest in 1992 where half the conference came down with food poisoning due to ham sandwiches that were kept unrefrigerated for a bit too long in extremely hot (40+C) weather.

And no assessment of ASI meetings is complete without mention of the famous Lafferty Debate, held in honour of one of our most famous and quite cheeky and vocal members, Kevin Lafferty, who passed away in 2001. The Lafferty debate is a wonderful event like no other at any science conference I have seen, a chance to insult your opponents and use whatever tactics necessary to get you extra points with the audience. In my three appearances, my team has always come second… And then there is the limerick competition which provides opportunities to subtly, or not so subtly, insult your fellow scientists, (and somehow I am often the victim, unless Ron Germain is visiting). Why are people so unkind.
 
ASI will undoubtedly continue to change, but I sincerely hope that it always retains its sense of fun and community spirit.

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