Celebrating success

Flinders sleep expert to be the new President of international sleep association, a popular leader is recognised with public health award, war documentary chosen for Melbourne festival, founder of Flinders optometry wins top award, while leading ophthalmologist becomes an inaugural Snow Fellow.

Associate Professor Sutapa Mukherjee

Associate Professor Sutapa Mukherjee will be the new President Elect for the Australasian Sleep Association.

The specialist in respiratory and sleep medicine will  take up the role later this year, meanwhile she retains her current position in the association as Clinical Chair. Flinders University’s sleep expertise is well-represented on the peak scientific body for clinicians, scientists and researchers in sleep health and sleep medicine association, with incoming FHMRI Director Professor Peter Eastwood the Immediate Past President.

The sleep association serves to promote and provide education and training to its members and the broader health community, also fostering scientific research and establishing best-practice clinical guidelines.

Associate Professor Mukherjee also has a leadership role in the National COVID-19 Clinical Guidelines group for the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce. The Taskforce brings together peak health professional bodies across Australia whose members are providing clinical care to people with COVID-19. Playing a critical role during the pandemic, it continuously identifies and synthesises emerging research to provide up to date national, evidence-based guidelines for the care of people with COVID-19.

Popular leader recognised with public health award

Professor Nicola Spurrier has been awarded the 2020 Basil Hetzel Leadership in Public Health Award. The Chief Public Health Officer for the South Australian Department for Health and Wellbeing and Flinders University professor (academic status) was recognised for outstanding leadership and contributions over a challenging time, as the state has dealt with devastating bushfires followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Spurrier is a dual qualified medical specialist, public health physician and paediatrician with 30 years’ experience. She has developed and implemented policies and programs across child health, obesity prevention and Aboriginal health.

A compassionate public health leader well-liked by the community, Professor Spurrier has demonstrated exceptional strength in her current role, which she was appointed to only last year.

Alumnus and founder wins top optometry award

Professor Konrad Pesudovs

Highly awarded Professor Konrad Pesudovs (PhD(Med) 2001), a Flinders alumnus who started the Flinders Optometry program has received Optometry Australia’s top award, the 2020 Collin medal.

Professor Pesudovs is the Australian College of Optometry President, the SHARP (Strategic Hires and Retention Pathway) Professor of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW, and Visiting Research Fellow, Vision and Eye Research Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, UK.

The first optometry students graduated from Flinders University in 2015. The last group of PhDs he supervised includes Dr Mallika Prem Senthil who is an ophthalmology  lecturer in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Sheela Kumaran and Himal Kandel, who both won Study Adelaide International Student Awards.

Vision fixed on game-changing research fellowship

Flinders ophthalmology expert and glaucoma researcher Dr Owen Siggs (MD ’17) is an inaugural 2020 Snow Fellow – one of three researchers who will each receive $8 million ($1 million each year, for 8 years) to support their world-leading research.

Dr Owen Siggs

Dr Siggs will commence his Snow Fellowship at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in early 2021, using his funds to set up and operate a research laboratory and staff.

The newly established Snow Medical Research Foundation has been created by Canberra’s Snow family and is a vision of businessman and philanthropist, Terry Snow. The Snow Fellowships target emerging global research leaders that show the potential to drive, manage and influence the next generation of health and medical innovation.

Dr Siggs’ research career has spanned the use of large-scale genome-wide mutagenesis to discover the function of genes essential for immunity, to the use of exome and genome sequencing to diagnose severe inherited diseases. His current interests include the use of large-scale population and single cell genomics to understand the clinical impact of germline and somatic genetic variation, and the application of this information in clinical practice.

The Flinders University researcher has previously been awarded a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant, to develop a collection of thousands of retinal images, captured before and after glaucoma diagnosis, which will help predict who is at greatest risk of developing glaucoma and diagnose the eye disease sooner, to intervene and prevent irreversible blindness.

Dr Siggs will be maintaining Flinders academic status to continue co-supervising a few Flinders PhD students, and will remain involved in Flinders projects.

Documentary makes Melbourne film festival

An unknown Australian soldier of the world war One

A film featuring Professor Melanie Oppenheimer is showing as part of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival (MDFF) this year.

‘The Missing’ explores two unsung humanitarian responses to the crisis of the missing of World War 1 – the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau and the post-war work of the Australian Graves Detachment and Graves Services. It tells of a remarkable group of men and women, ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, who laboured to provide comfort and connection to grieving families in distant Australia.

It shares rarely seen archival images from the Australian Red Cross Heritage Collection. This Wind & Sky Production was directed by Jary Nemo and written and produced by Jary Nemo and Lucinda Horrocks, with executive producer Associate Professor Fred Cahir of Federation University.

The MDFF is the first documentary film festival in Australia to go online as a result of COVID-19. The full line up can be seen at www.mdff.org.au and will run from today to 15 July 2020.

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