Clinical School newsletter

2012 - Issue 1


Welcome to 2012 with the CHW Clinical School!

Kathryn North

Our regular newsletters aim to let you know what is happening in the Clinical School and the University of Sydney – and to highlight some of the great successes of members of the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health. We now have over 260 academic title holders and ~100 postgraduate students based at the CHW Clinical School.
Our Education Team oversees the provision of teaching for an increasing number of medical students each year - our own Sydney Medical Program students, elective students and Honours and research students from Sydney, other centres in Australia and overseas. Paediatrics remains highly regarded by students and faculty alike for its organisational and educational excellence. Thank you to all of our teachers who make the program so successful!
At the recent Sydney Medical School Celebratory dinner, Diane Hanlon was acknowledged for her exceptional performance and long term contributions to CHW Clinical School. Congratulations to Diane for such a richly deserved recognition.
Our Newsletter items contain further information about our students, our research, our teachers and our achievements. Enjoy reading it and please let us know about any news that you would like to share in future editions.

Prof Kathryn North
Associate Dean
Children's Hospital at Westmead Clinical School

CHW Clinical School news

Australia Day Honours

Congratulations to the following recipients of Australia Day Honours. For full citations please see

For service to medicine in the field of neuromuscular and neurogenetics research, paediatrics and child health as a clinician and academic, and to national and international professional associations.
Co-Founder and Head, Institute of Neuroscience and Muscle Research based at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead; established 2000.
Douglas Burrows Professor of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, since 2004.
Associate Dean, Children’s Hospital at Westmead, since 2004; Head, Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2004-2010; Staff Specialist (Clinical Academic) in Neurology and Genetics, since 1995

For service to medicine as a clinician and academic, to the specialty of paediatric anaesthesia and pain management, and through advisory roles with public health organisations.
Head, Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children (now the Children’s Hospital at Westmead), 1998-2002; Deputy Head, 1996-1998; Senior Staff Anaesthetist, 1982-1996 and 2002-2007; Staff Specialist Anaesthetist, 1974-1982.
Clinical Senior Lecturer, Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, University of Sydney, 1998-2007; Tutor, Paediatric Anaesthesia, 1977-1993

For service to medicine in the field of paediatrics and child health.
Sector Director, Community Child and Family Health, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Area Health Service (NSW Health), since 2007.
Director, Community Child Health and Acute Paediatric Services, 1976-2006; Community Paediatrician, since 1976.
Clinical Associate Lecturer, Paediatric and Child Health, Sydney University, since 1996.
Founding Fellow, Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine

Dr Douglas Cohen (1920 – 2011)

Douglas Cohen

Dr Douglas Cohen, who died aged 91 years on 5 September 2011, graduated in Medicine from the University of Sydney in 1942. He joined the staff of The Children’s Hospital (RAHC) as a surgeon in 1950. After further training at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, he returned and introduced exciting new techniques in cardiothoracic surgery to the Hospital at a time when open heart surgery was in its infancy. He made wide-ranging contributions to the Hospital and the community, from being the first chairman of, the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia (now Kidsafe) to his book ‘Medical Ethics in Clinical Practice’ (1993).

In 1985 the Hospital recognised Dr Cohen and his work by establishing the Douglas Cohen Department of Surgery. He is also remembered through the Douglas Cohen Prize for Paediatric Surgery for medical students at the University of Sydney, now sponsored by The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. In 2011 the prize was awarded to Brooke Wilson for the submission entitled ‘The changing face of appendectomy’.

We remember his contribution to the University, the Hospital and the community and extend condolences to his family.

The Sydney Morning Herald obituary

Medicine, Rugby and Research: Nathan Trist

Sydney Medical Progam student Nathan Trist had just completed his Child and Adolescent Health specialty block in September 2011 when he got the call offering him a contract with Waratah Rugby, the professional NSW team in the Super Rugby competition involving Australian, New Zealand and South African teams. Having worked hard at recovering from injury, and after two goes at professional rugby with Melbourne Rebels in 2007’s Australian Rugby Championship and with the Brumbies, he couldn’t say no to the chance to play with the ‘Tahs.

Nathan Trist

Nathan played Rugby League with the Kiama Cows as a youngster at home in Kiama, then switched to Union when he boarded at Hurlstone Agricultural College for high school. Study commitments meant foregoing some schoolboy representative honours. Moving to Sydney to study and living at Wesley College made Sydney University Football Club the obvious choice for club rugby. A brief stint studying Commerce showed Nathan this was not for him and he switched to Physiotherapy. During hospital placements for his course he thought for the first time about becoming a doctor. After a period of work as a physio, more football and some injuries he was successful in gaining a Sydney Medical Program place.

This rugby opportunity has also given Nathan some time to concentrate on research, something he sees as part of the work of all doctors. He has enrolled in a Master of Philosophy with Prof Michael Tonkin, hand surgeon at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and Prof David Little. Nathan will study the results of pollicisation of the index finger in patients treated at the hospital, assessing strength compared with controls. He hopes also to continue his involvement with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME : He plans to resume his medical degree later in 2012.

We wish Nathan well for his playing season with the ‘Tahs and with his research.

Congratulations to Di Hanlon

Di Hanlon

Congratulations to Diane Hanlon on winning the 2012 Sydney Medical School Award for Exceptional Performance by General Staff. Diane has been employed in the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health for 26 years and currently holds the position of Office Manager, as well as Personal Assistant to Professors Louise Baur & Cheryl Jones. Over her period of many years with the Discipline, Diane has held the key position of Secretary to the Head of Discipline/School (Professors Oates and Mellis), a role that was akin, at the time, to the current role of Executive Officer.
Diane is the longest standing member of the Discipline and has played a pivotal role in the administration and smooth functioning of the Discipline/School over many years, including times of great change. She continues to be the “go to” person when there is a problem and the person to whom to turn if you want information about what has happened in the past and what that might mean for today.
Diane understands The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and University of Sydney processes and culture, and helps negotiate between them. Her contribution to the Discipline and the Sydney Medical Program at large has been outstanding in all areas. She selflessly and tirelessly underpins all of the activities of the CHW Clinical School and is a major contributor to its success.

Andrew Holland - excellence in teaching

Andrew Holland

Congratulations to Andrew Holland on winning the 2011 Child and Adolescent Health Teaching Award from Northern Clinical School. The award was based on the feedback of Northern Clinical School students doing the Child and Adolescent Health Specialty Block, who are taught by Andrew at both The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Royal North Shore Hospital. One of the students who nominated Andrew for the award wrote:

“I would like to nominate Andrew Holland for the Surgical Clinical Teaching award. I found his case-based teaching style to be very effective and he encouraged the students to be interactive by challenging us with questions and welcoming any discussion we wished to have. His passion for teaching was evident as he was always proactive in squeezing us in for a tutorial despite his busy clinical schedule. Excellent sense of humour too!”

Lifetime Achievement Award - Vijay Kumar

Vijay Kumar

Clin. Prof. Vijay Kumar, Head of Radiopharmaceutical Research, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Ultrasound and PET, was recently given the special honour of “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM), India, at its annual meeting. The award was presented in appreciation of his contribution to radiopharmaceutical science and nuclear medicine, for teaching, research and development at an international level. His contribution to developing nations through his work at IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) was an important factor in his receiving the award. Vijay was one of the four international recipients of the award which was presented by the President of SNM, Chairman of Bhaba Atomic Energy Centre, and the President of Association of Physicians of India.

Research news

The Lililwan project

As the Lililwan Project approaches completion, a paper has been published in the 21 January issue ofThe Lancet: Kirby T. Blunting the legacy of alcohol abuse in Western Australia. The Lancet. 2012;379(9812):207-8. Elizabeth Elliott and James Fitzpatrick are two of the chief investigators of the project.
The Lililwan project is a partnership between Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services and Marninwarntikura Women's Resource Centre at Fitzroy Crossing, the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health and the George Institute for Global Health. The first stage involved interviewing parents and carers of children born in 2002 and 2003 in the Fitzroy Valley to ascertain the children’s demographics, antenatal exposures (including alcohol), birth and health history. The second stage, funded by the Australian Government, comprised multidisciplinary clinical examination of the children. Each child in the study has received a health and developmental assessment identifying their strengths and needs and all parents have been provided with verbal feedback and a written management plan to address problems identified.
In 2011 the Australian Government announced an inquiry into FASD incidence and prevention, including targeting prevention solutions for high-risk groups such as Indigenous communities and teenage-binge drinkers. Jane Latimer, Senior Research Fellow at the George Institute and another chief investigator said, “The recommendations from this inquiry will be used by government to formulate policy around this issue.” She hopes the outcomes from the project can be successfully transferred to other communities in Australia.
Elizabeth Elliott discussed the Lililwan project when she was interviewed by Julie McCrossin for QANTAS international flights in November 2011 and by Margaret Throsby on ABCClassicFM in February this year


Student news

Visiting medical students from Cambodia

Cambodian students

Soughuech Heng and Suonchakrya Lok are Year 5 medical students from the University of Health Sciences in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Soughuech and Suonchakrya are currently on a Sydney Medical School scholarship to study with the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, where they are completing the eight week Child and Adolescent Health specialty block.
The opportunity came from negotiations made by Prof Bruce Robinson whilst visiting the University of Health Sciences in Phnom Penh. The selection criteria for the scholarship were based on a merit system with candidates having a specific interest in Child and Adolescent Health. Soughuech and Suonchakrya were excited and honoured to be selected to attend studies at a world renowned Paediatrics facility like The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
During their time with the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, Soughuech and Suonchakrya will be participating in tutorials, workshops and lectures with Sydney Medical Students and attending a number of clinical placements throughout the Hospital. Soughuech and Suonchakrya are with us until Sunday 13th May when they will be returning to Cambodia to continue their studies

Postgraduate research student profile - Maria Chow

Maria Chow

Maria is a 3rd year PhD student from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), where she initially started working as a research assistant. Her research topic is “Psychosocial impact of parents of children with Influenza-like-illness”. Her supervisors are Dr Julie Leask, Prof Robert Booy and Dr Angie Morrow. During the last two years she has spent numerous hours conducting telephone and face-to-face interviews with parents of children. She enjoys doing social research where she can meet people and thus have a more balanced life than just sitting in front of the computer analysing data!
Last October Maria attended her first ever international conference, organised by the International Society for Quality of Life Research at Denver, Colorado USA. It was truly an eye-opener for her, where she built connections with people from different parts of the world as future work companions and friends. Maria’s future interest lies in serving developing countries through health promotion. She is grateful to have been selected as an intern to work for the World Health Organization Immunization Policy Unit in Geneva from July to September this year.
Maria has been living in Australia for 5 years. She enjoys her life in Sydney but still misses the food and her mum’s cooking back in Hong Kong. During her leisure time she meets her friends at church and listens to classical music. She feels lucky that she is able to listen to concerts or watch operas at the Sydney Opera House once in a while.

Summer Research Scholarships

Seventeen students undertook summer research scholarships at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead Clinical School in 2011/12. These scholarships are jointly funded by Sydney Medical School and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead Clinical School and valued at $2,400 each. The students undertook a research project full time for eight weeks, culminating in oral presentations on 24 February.
The winners of the CHW Clinical School presentations were Sophie Hale and Daochen Carl Tong. These two students competed in the Dean’s Prize Competition on 13 March 2012, which involved eight students from across Sydney Medical School. Congratulations to Sophie on being awarded second prize in the competition!

Sophie and Carl outline their experience:

Sophie Hale

Sophie Hale: “After graduating from veterinary science in 2009, it was with some irony that I ended up spending my summer at the end of my first year of graduate medicine researching human kennel cough, or for the layman, “pertussis”, under the exemplary supervision of Dr Nick Wood and the fabulous team at the NCIRS. It was an exhilarating and whirlwind tour of research in which I delved into the epidemiological picture of pertussis at CHW, mixing it up with a dash of genetics for a bit of cerebral flogging! And so over 500 clinical and vaccination records later, I found myself immersed in the intricacies of contemporary pertussis research: increasing prevalence on a background of changing diagnostic trends, the relatively unknown impact of isolate genotype on clinical severity and the hotly contentious vaccination efficacy.
The prevailing message was that pertussis remains a major health threat, especially to our vulnerable infants, despite the widespread availability of the greatest tool in our pertussis arsenal that is often, soberingly and with dire consequences taken for granted: vaccination. I was touched by the individual patient stories I encountered and inspired by the tireless work of those I had the very great pleasure of working alongside at the NCIRS. I’ve had a taste of research and I want another slice. See you next summer.”

Carl Tong

Daochen (Carl) Tong: “I received the Scholarship at the end of third year after finishing my Bachelor of Science (Adv) with majors in Biochemistry and Microbiology. For eight weeks under the supervision of Professor John Christodoulou and Gladys Ho, I investigated the splicing effects of CDKL5 (cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5) intronic variations found in Rett Syndrome patients. The highlight of my project would have to be when I got the final sequencing results, in which some contained an unexpected exon skipping.

I enjoyed the research experience very much as I got to learn and practise various techniques, such as cell culture, subcloning, reverse transcription PCR and site directed mutagenesis. It was also very satisfying to know I was able to contribute my small part to the clinical diagnosis of Rett Syndrome, which is still an incurable disorder. I’m grateful for the guidance of my co-supervisor, Gladys, who was knowledgeable and patient in answering all of my many questions. John’s lab was a great work place as everyone was approachable, kind and there was never a lack of bakery goods - yum! Now I’m studying Honours in Microbiology at the University of Sydney, during which time I will decide whether to become a researcher or not.”

Grants, Achievements, Promotions and Titles

Promotions appointments & titles

New titles
Dr Emily Klineberg – Research Fellow (Adolescent Medicine)
Dr Vijay Kumar – Clinical Professor (Nuclear Medicine)
Dr Yoon Hi Cho – Clinical Lecturer (Endocrinology

Dr Aaron Schindeler – Conjoint Senior Lecturer
Dr Fabienne Brilot-Turville – Senior Lecturer
Dr Kevin Carpenter – Conjoint Associate Professor


Details of the large number of successful grant applications are available here


Kathryn North – Member (AM) in the General Division for service to medicine in the field of neuromuscular and neurogenetics research, paediatrics and child health as a clinician and academic, and to national and international professional associations.
Michael Brydon OAM - SCH and SCHN Exec
David Lillystone OAM - community Paediatrician (Chatswood) involved in teaching DPCH students
John Keneally AM - former anaesthetist at CHW


Upcoming conferences and meetings

Hunter Paediatric Society Conference: Central Australia - 9-14/04/2012. For more information or call +61 2 4973 6573.

6th Annual Update in Paediatric Emergencies: Noosa, Queensland: 14-16/4/2012 For program and registration details please or visit

Indigenous Health Outcomes Videoconference 3/05/2012
As part of the ROME project, a free videoconference titled Indigenous Health Outcomes will be offered to rural specialists on Thursday, 3 May from 3.30-5.00pm (AEST). More information or

12th ICNC and 11th AOCCN Joint Congress of Child Neurology: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre –27/05-1/06/2012 more information

The Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) 36th Annual Scientific Meeting: Canberra - 22-25/07/2012. For further information, please .

26th International Conference of the European Society for Philosophy of Medicine and Healthcare (ESPMH): Nazareth, Israel - 15-18/08/2012
Abstracts should be submitted before 1 March 2012. For more information, contact , Secretary of ESPMH


14th Asia Pacific Congress of Pediatrics: Malaysia - 8-12/09/2012
Further information, please visit the website

6th Asian Congress of Pediatric Infectious Diseases (ACPID): Sri Lanka - 24-27/10/2012 More information

Lorimer awards 2011


Medical students will be nominating teachers for excellence in teaching awards throughout the year. These are the Lorimer award winners for 2011:

John Tan

John Tan


Hasantha Gunasekera

Dominic Sertori

Dominic Sertori

Jenny Byrne

Jennifer Byrne

Julie Leask

Julie Leask

For contributions to this newsletter, please email