Health Sciences e-News
Message from the Executive Dean
The annual round of university rankings now upon us is confused by their increased number and scope, as well as disparate results.
The Times Higher Education ranking has split from QS (a leading global career and education network), with a different methodology seeing UQ fall substantially (to No. 81) like other major players, while maintaining our top 50 position (No. 43 in the world) in the QS rankings. The increasingly-preferred Shanghai Jiao Tong ranks UQ in Clinica l Medicine and Pharmacy as 63rd overall, 4th in the Asia-Pacific, and No. 2 in Australia. A newcomer in 2010 is a West Australian effort called High Impact Universities, which puts UQ 6th in the Asia Pacific in Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacology, and Health Sciences. This research-based rank is based on a g score of 180, meaning we have 180 publications which average at least 180 citations.
Although we dominate any Queensland comparisons, our competition is global not national. Rankings have a marked influence on student and staff recruitment and I look forward to your efforts in legging us up the scales next year!
I am grateful to all those who helped with the UQ Centenary meeting hosted with UQCCR. (See story below.) This covered the alpha to omega of clinical academia, from past reminisces through stellar researchers to glimpses into the future and attracted very positive feedback. At the Customs House dinner that evening, Professor Bill Pinsky, from our Ochsner Clinical School in Louisiana, gave an inspiring exposition of the challenges his hospital faced during Hurricane Katrina. The workshop with international and national guests the following day proved a useful platform for taking forward the issues around Academic Health Science Centres aired at August’s Faculty Board meeting.
Congratulations to our Faculty entrant in the UQ 3 Minute Thesis Competition, Tina Wu, who won the UQ Finals and was the winner of the people’s choice award. She was an excellent competitor in the Australia & New Zealand Grand Finals held last night. (See story below.)
Her win is a reflection of the high standard of the Faculty’s RHD students in this competition. I am privileged to be a judge in the national competition of this popular UQ brainchild, which tests public communication skills but avoids the wackiness of Science magazine’s analogous foray into dancing.
Finally congratulations to the School of Pharmacy and to ENTOX, who passed their exhaustive external OH&S audit with flying colours.
Professor Nicholas Fisk
Cancer Researcher Competes for UQ in 3 MT Competition
Pharmacy's Tina Wu last night represented UQ in the Australian and New Zealand Final of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition.
Tina competed in the semi finals of the competition which was the first national event to be held in Australia.
Developed by UQ in 2008, the 3MT is a skills development activity that challenges research higher degree (RHD) students to explain their research project to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes.
Thirty-three universities took part in this years competition. The event was won by Balarka Banerjee, of the University of Western Australia, for his presentation on organ rejection research.
Tina's research has produced a positive model that looks into the over-expression of calcium channels in cancer, specifically breast cancer, and how these channels can be targeted using the active component of hot chilli.
Her entertaining snapshot of how chilli could unlock the key to combatting cancer - and how not to try the treatment at home - proved a hit with Faculty and UQ judges.
Other winners at the national event were: Runner-up - Gabrielle Briggs, The University of Newcastle, "Regulation of Tyrosine Hydroxylase"; People's Choice - Alex Jordan, The University of New South Wales, "The lifetime costs of male reproductive effort".
The prizes for both the UQ Finals and the Australia & New Zealand Final were:
• Winner: $5000 research travel grant
• Runner-up: $2000 research travel grant
• People’s Choice: $1000 research travel grant.
Read the full story.
Report Confirms Prevention Can Save Lives and Money
The results of a study led by the School of Population Health's Professor Theo Vos (right) have included dozens of recommendations that strongly support more spending on prevention, but also warn that not all prevention measures are wise investments.
The Assessing Cost Effectiveness of Prevention (ACE-Prevention) project is the result of five years of research, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
It is believed to be the most comprehensive evaluation of health prevention measures ever conducted world-wide, involving input from 130 top health experts.
Led by Professor Vos, Director of the Centre for Burden of Disease and Cost-Effectiveness, and Professor Rob Carter from Deakin University, the research team assessed 123 illness prevention measures to identify those that will prevent the most illness and premature deaths and those that are best value for money.
Read the full story.
See the full report.
Event Highlights Past and Future
Around 250 staff joined Faculty luminaries and top researchers to celebrate achievements and share visions for the future at the "Past Victories and Future Challenges" event last week.
Former UQ Chancellor, Sir Llew Edwards (far right), himself a doctor and former Queensland Minister for Health, introduced renowned professors, Mervyn Eadie (second from right) and John Pearn (second from left) who provided a fascinating insight into research during the early years of medicine in Brisbane.
This was followed by a session chaired by Professor Lawrie Powell (centre), featuring cutting edge researchers and educational leaders, including Professor Ian Frazer (far left), who provided snapshots of groundbreaking current work and intriguing glimpses of the future.
International guests, Professors Steve Smith (second from right, below) and Ranga Krishnan (far left) shared their experiences of Academic Health Science Centres (AHSC) – created by linking up universities and hospitals in pursuit of a tripartite mission of excellence in clinical care, research and training.
Prof Smith, Chief Executive of Imperial College Healthcare, the UK’s first and most successful AHSC, outlined some of the challenges during development and the benefits of operation. These included a boost to research and a flow on effect in improved patient care.
"The argument for Academic Health Science Centres is overpowering," he told the conference.
Faculty Executive Dean, Professor Nicholas Fisk (second from left) hosted a think tank on AHSCs with university and hospital representatives to explore the way forward for the concept in Australia. He said patient care in Australia would fall below the standards in leading developed nations without a move to more joined up institutions.
Also pictured above are Monash University Vice Chancellor, Professor Ed Byrnes, AO (centre) and Professor Robin Mortimer, AO, Executive Director of the Office of Health and Medical Research.
Health students compete in national teamwork challenge
UQ's top interprofessional student team competed against the nation's best last weekend at the Australian HealthFusion Team Challenge event, known as OzHFTC.
The event, which was only the second time a national team challenge event has been held, was won by Griffith University, with Monash University winning the Audience Award. Curtin University was awarded a spot in the top three.
UQ's championship Team HEART (Lucy Crocombe -
Exercise Physiology, Matthew Mills - Medicine, Kiera Buchanan - Psychology,Thanh Huynh - Pharmacy and Laura Page - Occupational Therapy) performed well. They won the right to represent UQ after defeating six other teams at the UQ competition (The UQ HealthFusion Team Challenge) last month. They are pictured with Mr Simon Finn MP, Member for Yeerongpilly.
Designed to foster teamwork and collaboration among the professions, the HFTC brings students from a wide range of disciplines together to produce a management package for a patient with complex needs.
Each team of four to six students is required to respond to an online case study based on a real-life scenario, which demands both acute and long-term problem solving strategies.
This year's UQ HFTC included representatives from Audiology, Dentistry, Dietetics, Exercise Physiology, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Psychology, and Speech Pathology.
The national championship was held at the Pharmacy Australia Centre of Excellence (PACE), 20 Cornwall St Woolloongabba.
Read more about the UQ HFTC.
CMVH embarks on trans-Tasman defence health research link
Research into the health care needs and issues of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force veterans, serving personnel and their families will receive renewed focus, with the Centre for Military and Veterans' Health (CMVH) and the University of Otago about to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
“The University of Otago's broad research interest areas, are very much of interest to us," CMVH Director, Professor Peter Warfe, said.
"Otago has considerable research expertise in the fields of health care, peace and conflict studies, international relations, biomechanics, mental health, and children and families, spread across several disciplines and faculties.
“We also appreciate New Zealand's importance given that ANZAC personnel often serve in the same theatres and peacekeeping areas, and that their personnel and families share the same issues.
The CMVH is gaining an international reputation as the Asian-Pacific region's pre-eminent provider of military and veterans' health research, professional development and think tank programs.
Read the full story.
New and Promoted Staff
Congratulations to the following staff who have received promotion to Associate Professor recently:
- Associate Professor James Marcin – Honorary Associate Professor, Centre for Online Health
- Dr Geoffrey Askin – Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Mater Clinical School
- Dr Carolyn Dakin – Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Mater Clinical School
- Dr Gary Leong – Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Mater Clinical School
- Dr Glen Kennedy – Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Royal Brisbane Clinical School
- Dr Andreas Zankl – Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Paediatrics & Child Health
- Dr Andrew Hallahan – Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Paediatrics & Child Health.
Welcome to senior staff who have joined our ranks in the last several months.
- Dr Sharon Brownie - Associate Professor, Australian Health Workforce Institute (AHWI) & Director UQ AHWI
- Mrs Lisa Harrold - Business Development Manager - Obstetrics & Gynaecology - RBWH
- Professor Peter Sly - Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Queensland Children's Medical Research Institute
- Ms Arna-Moselle Chancellor - Program Manager (APMEN), School of Population Health
- Professor Greg Rice, Deputy Director (Translational), UQ Centre for Clinical Research
- Ms Claire Shackleton, Research Manager, Queensland Children's Medical Research Institute
- Ms Belinda Marsden-Smedley, MBBS Educ Program Manager, School of Medicine
- Dr Mustafa Ayhan, Senior Research Fellow, UQ Centre for Clinical Research
- Professor Gita Mishra, Professorial Research Fellow in Life-Course Epidemiology, School of Population Health
- Professor Dorte Gyrd-Hansen, CONROD
- Dr Robert Quinet – Associate Professor, School of Medicine
- Dr Nikki Blackwell – Associate Professor, School of Medicine – Northside Clinical School
- Dr Scott Campbell – Associate Professor, School of Medicine – Southern Clinical School.
PROFILE - Clinical geneticist Andreas Zankl
Clinical geneticist Andreas Zankl is developing a bone displasia register to help study this debilitating genetic disorder.
Bone dysplasias affect the development of the skeleton and are difficult to diagnose. Two well known examples are Achondroplasia (a common cause of dwarfism) and Osteogenesis Imperfecta ('brittle bone disease') but there are over 300 others.
Andrea, whose research is based at UQCCR has established a bone dysplasia clinic at the Mater Children's and Royal Children's Hospital where he regularly see patients with bone dysplasias. The registry will enable study into the natural history of patients with these disorders - identification of the genetic defects that cause bone dysplasias, how they affect bone development and will make the data more accessible and to find new interactions.
Read the full story.