Clinical school newsletter

2010 - Issue 2

Clinical School News

Welcome to Prof Kate Steinbeck

Kate Steinbeck

The Discipline welcomes Professor Kate Steinbeck to the position of Medical Foundation Chair in Adolescent Medicine.

After graduating in Medicine from The University of Sydney, Kate Steinbeck trained at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) in adult medicine and later specialised in Endocrinology. She worked as an endocrinology registrar at RPA and maintained a connection with Endocrinology at The Children’s Hospital at Camperdown, before moving to the UK to work with paediatric endocrinologist Professor Charles Brook. After returning to Australia, Kate worked as a Visiting Medical Officer and later as a staff specialist in adolescent endocrinology at RPAH and The Children’s Hospital at Camperdown. When The Children’s Hospital moved to Westmead, Kate maintained her role as staff specialist at RPAH, took up an honorary position at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) and became head of the Youth Consultancy of Central Sydney (later Sydney South West Area Health Service) focusing on chronic illness and transition to adult care. She was the Co-chair of the Transition Network for the Greater Metropolitan Clinical Taskforce for 5 years. During her work in adolescent medicine, Kate has enjoyed long term collaborations with Professors Louise Baur, Sue Towns and David Bennett.

Kate believes the major roles of the Medical Foundation Chair in Adolescent Medicine are to: i) increase research in adolescent medicine within the hospital and the broader university community, thereby developing an evidence base for adolescent medicine and raising its profile; and ii) form a bridge between paediatrics and adult medicine so that adolescence is no longer seen as a stage ‘to get over’ but a time when mental health problems and lifestyle diseases of the future originate. Equally important to Kate is the fact that the number of adolescent patients with chronic illness transitioning to adult care is growing. The increasing lifespan of adolescent patients through improved medicine and technology, and the increasing prevalence of some diseases means illnesses previously seen only in paediatrics are now being managed in adult medicine. Overall, Kate lists her aims as the inaugural Chair as: to bring health professionals together to mentor, support and advocate; to broaden the concept of adolescent medicine in the university; and to encourage bright health professionals to work in the discipline of adolescent medicine.

Congratulations Prof Louise Baur

Louise Baur

We congratulate Professor Louise Baur, AM, who was appointed a Member in the General Division (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for service to medicine, particularly in the field of paediatric obesity as a researcher and academic, and to the community through support for a range of children’s charities.

Louise is Director of Weight Management Services at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, paediatrician and professor in the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health. She has been a pediatrician since 1988 and did most of her paediatric training at The Children’s Hospital (Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children), Camperdown. She completed her PhD in the then Department of Paediatrics with Kevin Gaskin and Martin Silink in children’s body composition. Louise specialised in weight management throughout the 1990s, during and following a post-doctoral fellowship at RPAH in adult endocrinology, with patients with obesity and pre-diabetes.

Louise has been at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead since it opened in 1995 and has had a staff appointment at The University of Sydney since 1994. She had a foundation role in the development of the University of Sydney’s Graduate Medical Program (now Sydney Medical Program) during the transition from an undergraduate program.

Her appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia is due recognition of Louise’s enthusiastic, diligent and thoughtful work for others.

Student News

Student Profile: Nicholas Spooner

Nicholas Spooner

Second Life in Sydney Medical School
Nicholas Spooner is a final year medical student with an interest in surgery and background in engineering, who is currently studying Child and Adolescent Health. Nicholas and his supervisor, Professor Mohamed Khadra, have undertaken a pilot project to introduce virtual learning into the Sydney Medical Program through Second Life. Second Life is a virtual world consisting of simulated, life-like infrastructures that are designed and constructed in a virtual fashion. It is a world populated with avatars, or virtual representations of people, through which real-life users interact with others. Nicholas and Mohamed aim to use Second Life to enable students to acquire and practice new skills through interacting with surgical diseases in safe, confidential, realistic medical environments.

The pilot was funded by a Teaching and Innovations Grant from The University of Sydney. In the first phase Nicholas and Mohamed purchased space in Second Life and consulted with Second Life design technicians to construct a simulated University of Sydney teaching hospital. They constructed a virtual medical complex that is a fully equipped teaching centre with trauma bay, emergency room, surgical operating theatre and outpatient clinic. Sydney Medical School students who participated in the pilot project were able to complete a number of Problem Based Learning (PBL) cases and assess patient avatars. The students were enthusiastic about the possibility of virtual world teaching and eager for it to be incorporated into future curriculums. Nicholas and Mohamed will continue to develop the virtual hospital as an additional learning space for Sydney Medical School students.

Second Life Hospital

To visit The University of Sydney virtual medical centre, you will need to join Second Life and create an avatar here

Postgraduate research student profile: Myra Poon

Myra Poon

Myra Poon started working at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead as a Resident Medical Officer in 1999. In 2003 she moved to the UK to complete her training in general paediatrics. She returned to CHW in 2008 to work as a fellow in the Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes and completed her training in paediatric endocrinology.
Myra’s first experience of research was working as a study coordinator and co-investigator in the Type 1 diabetes prevention trial. This led to her interest in diabetes research and she enrolled in a PhD in 2009 to investigate environmental factors that may underlie the increasing incidence of Type 1 diabetes in children and the development of long term complications. The specific factors she will study are vitamin D, viruses and adiposity. Myra will have the opportunity to study a cohort of children newly-diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes who will be compared with a well-characterised cohort recruited 12 years ago by A/Prof Maria Craig. Her aim is to determine if environmental factors are currently more prevalent. Her research is funded by an NHMRC postgraduate scholarship and a fellowship jointly awarded by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Her supervisors are A/Prof Kim Donaghue and A/Prof Maria Craig.
Currently on maternity leave after giving birth to a beautiful baby boy in November 2009, Myra is looking forward to resuming her studies in July 2010.

Postgraduate research students awarded

Congratulations to the students who have been awarded PhD degrees:

  • Renjing Liu: Investigating the contribution of muscle cells to fracture repair. Primary Supervisor: Prof David Little. Associate Supervisor: Dr Aaron Schindeler
  • Abidali Mohamedali: CDKL5: a novel Rett syndrome gene, Analysis of its function in mouse. Primary Supervisor: Prof John Christodoulou. Associate Supervisors: Dr Patrick Tam, Dr Greg Pelka
  • Kate Sullivan: TGF-ß signalling in marfan syndrome and related phenotypes Primary Supervisor: A/Prof Bruce Bennetts. Associate Supervisors: Dr Lesley Ades; Dr Andrew Biggin

Diary date: University Graduations 17 December 2010

Do you want to be a primary supervisor of research students?

The Discipline will be running a training program for primary supervisor accreditation.

Dates: 25 August, 8 & 22 September with final presentation seminar 27 October. Each session is 9.30am – 12.30pm

Venue: Doreen Dew Lecture Theatre, level 4, Education Centre, CHW.

Further information is available at our website


Website redirection

New web address for the Discipline

As part of the University’s Web Branding Project the new web address for the Discipline has been changed to This means that all traffic to the old address ( has been permanently redirected to the new address.
All links, bookmarks and search results will continue to work by being automatically redirected to the new location. There will be coordinated changes influencing University search and public search engines. The permanent redirection will ensure that our site's google ranking is transferred to the new web address.
It is important to ensure that marketing materials (brochures, handbooks, email signatures, business cards, etc.) express the new web address.

Grants, Achievements, Promotions and Titles


Prof Louise Baur - Member of the Order of Australia - For service to medicine, particularly in the field of paediatric obesity as a researcher and academic, and to the community through support for a range of children's charities.


Prof. Kathryn North: NHMRC Equipment Grant 2010 – Westmead Correlative Light and Electron Microscope Suite. $200,000.

AER Foundation Project Grant: D. Hutchinson, R. Mattick, S. Allsop, J. Najman, Prof. Elizabeth Elliot, R. Burns, S. Jacobs, E. Maloney – Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation, Innovative Project Grant.
The impact of alcohol use during pregnancy on maternal health, neonatal outcomes and infant development. $15,300.

RACP Continuing Professional Development Grant: Dr Anne Morris, Dr James Fitzpatrick, Prof. Elizabeth Elliott and Dr Megan Phelps – Indigenous Child Health Education Modules. $6,000

Promotions & titles

New Titles
Dr Philippa Depree – Clinical Lecturer (Medical Imaging)
Dr Simon Paget – Clinical Associate Lecturer (Rehabilitation)
Dr John Tan – Clinical Associate Lecturer (Adolescent Medicine)


Upcoming conferences and meetings

26th International Congress of Pediatrics (ICP 2010): South Africa - 5-9/08/2010
The 26th International Pediatric Association's Congress of Pediatrics - ICP 2010 will be held from 5 - 9 August 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. This international paediatric congress will provide paediatricians with a crucial insight into vital issues affecting the health of children all over the world. For more information, please visit the website.
Congress Abstract Deadline: 10 February 2010
Early Registration Deadline: 31 March 2010
The RACP will host ICP2013 in Melbourne in August 2013.

Paediatric Perioperative Seminar
The Children's Hospital at Westmead Paediatric Perioperative Seminar "Spring with the Kids" will be held on 11th September 2010 at The Sebel Hotel Parramatta, NSW.
For more information contact Claudia Watson Telephone: (02) 9845-2112 or

Early Childhood Development in Indigenous Communities conference: Darwin - 21-22/09/2010
This conference will be held on 21 & 22 September 2010 at Holiday Inn Esplanade, Darwin. For more information, please visit the website

The 16th Annual Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) Professional Development Program: 8 & 9/10/2010
The Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne has been running a Professional Development Program (PDP) for paediatricians for 15 years. It is a two-day program comprising workshops in a dynamic, interactive format.
The 2010 program dates are Friday, 8 and Saturday, 9 October 2010.
Friday, 8 October:
The evolution of mood disorders in childhood: from irritable infants to troubled teens?
Saturday, 9 October
Session 1:
The paediatrician’s role in transition to school in vulnerable populations: lessons from the Australian Early Development Index
Session 2:
The NHMRC guidelines for ADHD: implications for paediatric practice
Please note that in 2010, the Chapter of Community Child Health, RACP is also arranging for its annual meeting/conference (usually held as a Satellite Meeting during RACP Physicians Week) to follow the PDP on Sunday, 10 October at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. A dinner is also being planned for Saturday, 9 October.

Excellence in Paediatrics: London - 2-4/12/2010
Excellence in Paediatrics 2010 is the second in a series of annual international conferences in the field of paediatrics. It will be held in London from 2 - 4 December 2010. Deadline for abstract submission is 10 September 2010. Deadline for early registration is 3 September 2010. For more information, please visit the website


First Annual Winter Symposium in Intensive Care & Emergency Medicine: Aspen, Colorado - 9-14/01/2011
This symposium will be held from 9 - 14 January 2011 in Aspen, Colorado. For further information, please visit the website or .

"Quality in Midwifery: Good practice in care and education"
February 25-26, 2010
Gent, Belgium
For more information:

14th Perinatal Society of Australia & New Zealand (PSANZ) Congress, 28-31 March 2010 Wellington, NZ.
Registration Now Open! Early bird deadline: 4 January, 2010

For more information:


Freedom Swim

During her recent long service leave Dr Meg Phelps (fourth from left in photo) took part in the cold water Freedom Swim 2010 in Cape Town on Sunday 2 May. This was a very different sort of challenge for the part-time lecturer. Funds raised benefited the Vista Nova School for children with special needs in Cape Town. The city was still preparing for the World Cup but looking spectacular. Meg's husband, Clinical Professor Dominic Dwyer of Westmead Hospital, wrote a piece for an ocean swimming website, which you can find here - including pics!

freedom swim group