Around the universities and research institutes

Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja17.1707C2
Published online: 17 July 2017

A group of doctors was honoured at the recent Rural Doctors Association of Queensland 27th Annual Conference in Townsville. Two James Cook University graduates were the joint inaugural recipients of the Denis Lennox Medal for Outstanding Rural Generalist Registrar. Mount Isa GP Dr Marjad Page, a proud Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Ganggalidda man from the Mt Isa region, started his registrar training in 2010 and is a Fellow of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM). He completed advanced skills training in obstetrics and gynaecology and is a qualified GP anaesthetist. He has worked in public, private and community settings. Gladstone GP Dr Claudia Collins, also a Fellow of ACRRM, started her registrar training in 2009. She has worked in Rockhampton and Longreach and now is based in Gladstone working with Nhulundu Health Service, completing a second advanced qualification in Indigenous health following on from her qualifications in obstetrics. Dr Collins, whose motto for the care she provides is “strong mums, healthy bubs”, is a member of the statewide lead clinician’s group formed by Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council to improve Indigenous health service provision and Indigenous health outcomes in Queensland. University of Queensland alumnus Dr Richard Tan was named as a “Legend of the Bush” for his almost 50 years of practice in Biloela in central Queensland, during which he has performed approximately 10 000 operations and delivered more than 3000 babies. Another UQ graduate, Dr David Rimmer, was honoured with a Meritorious Service Award for lasting influence on improved health care models for people living in the bush – particularly those living in the far west of Queensland. Dr Rimmer began his medical training in Brisbane and then moved to Victoria to work at Wangaratta and Melbourne Children’s hospitals. Following his interstate service, he completed his RACGP qualification in Toowoomba, before joining his brother Robert in a new Toowoomba general practice, then moving into emergency medicine at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane. He worked at Kowanyama in Cape York for several years before returning to the Wesley in Brisbane to continue emergency medicine, while filling relieving shifts for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. His last posting was ground staff at Longreach. There his friend and former Toowoomba GP, Dr Dilip Dhupelia, recruited him to the position of executive director of medical services for the Central West Hospital and Health Service. Husband and wife team Dr Matt Masel and Dr Sue Masel (both University of Queensland), also received Meritorious Service Awards for their work in Goondiwindi, both in private practice and in the reinvigoration of maternity services at the local hospital. Winnie Yum, a medical student at UQ, was named the Academic Winner, Tamara Hall was named “Backbone of the Bush”, and Alison Fairleigh was awarded the David Horn Memorial Medal

Three medical researchers from Griffith University have won Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Awards. The award for excellence for an individual mid-career or senior researcher went to Professor Vicky Avery, from the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery. She heads the Griffith University Drug Discovery Program for the CRC for Cancer Therapeutics (CTx) and the Discovery Biology team. Professor Avery was recognised for her outstanding research in drug discovery over the past 18 years. Her vision is to promote world class drug discovery, utilising advanced image-based platforms, ultimately impacting on access to quality therapeutics for all. She aims to address fundamental basic research questions, to better understand the biology and to facilitate drug discovery in the search for novel lead molecules, particularly where drug resistance is apparent or the disease is neglected. Her objective is to improve and expedite drug discovery, and to endeavour to provide platforms where currently they are non-existent, limited or of poor quality. Professor Cordia Chu from the Centre for Environment and Population Health, a part of Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, was recognised for her distinguished record in research supervision. Since 1996, Professor Chu has supervised to completion 34 PhDs, three MPhils, six honours and more than 45 Masters theses. Professor Chu has developed research expertise in areas integrating environment and health such as healthy cities, workplace health and safety risk management, gender and reproductive health, migrant and vulnerable populations, population and settings-based health promotion, climate change adaptation for health. The Laboratory for Vaccines for the Developing World team led by Professor Michael Good from the Institute for Glycomics won the award for Research Group/Team. Professor Good’s team’s outstanding work led to a major translational outcome for the Institute in 2016, with the signing of a significant licensing agreement with major international vaccine manufacturing company, Olymvax Biopharmaceuticals in China. Their needle-free vaccine targets Streptococcus A infections, the cause of strep throat and rheumatic heart disease. The lab’s team of more than 10 researchers could potentially see a vaccine in the market within the next 6-8 years.

Providing the first community-based post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment for war veterans is just one of the achievements of Griffith University’s Professor David Crompton, the latest recipient of the Margaret Tobin Award. Named in honour of the late Dr Margaret Tobin, the honour is awarded to the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Fellow who has made the most significant contribution to administrative psychiatry in the region over the preceding 5 years. Professor Crompton is the new director of Griffith University’s Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) and also the executive director of Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services. In 1998, Professor Crompton led the development of the first community treatment program in Strathpine for veterans with PTSD, mental health issues and substance abuse. This led into community-based treatment for patients with work-related trauma. Both continue to this day in a community setting attached to Toowong Private Hospital, in Brisbane. The establishment of an effective means of identifying adults and older people affected by the cyclones and floods of 2010-11 was also the work of a team led by Professor Crompton. Operating Queensland’s Mental Health Disaster Program through the Department of Health, he set up a successful program which ran in community centres and GP practices across the state. Over the last 5 years Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services has also changed with the formation of the Hospital and Health Service and the implementation of clinical programs guided by research and learning. The Service now is an active participant in clinical research with staff enrolled in PhDs and conjoint positions with Griffith University, QUT and the University of Queensland.

One of the highest awards in the field of perfusion in heart and lung surgery, the American Society of Extracorporeal Technology’s John H Gibbon Jr Award, has been presented to Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University Professor Robert Baker. The award is presented for contributions to the science and practice of extracorporeal circulation, a specialist field of medicine involving maintaining the circulation of blood and oxygen through the body during cardiac, cardiothoracic and other surgeries. Professor Baker is the first Australian-based clinician to be awarded this honour. Professor Baker is the Director of Clinical Perfusion and Cardiac Surgery Research at Flinders, and was a foundation member of the team to commence cardiac surgery at Flinders in 1992. The international perfusion award was established in 1974 and recipients include innovators and leaders in the field of cardiac surgery such as Dr Michael DeBakey and Dr Denton Cooley. The award is named after John H Gibbon Jr, an American cardiac surgeon who invented the heart-lung machine. Professor Baker chairs both the International Consortium for Evidence-Based Perfusion and the Australian and New Zealand Collaborative Perfusion Registry.



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