Clinical School newsletter

2012 - Issue 4

CHW Clinical School news

Season’s Greetings!...and Vale (I did do Latin at High School)


It has been another busy and productive year for the CHW Clinical School. Our Education Team provides teaching on site for over 350 medical students per year, 30 elective students, and 20-30 Honours students per annum. CHW Clinical School staff have been acknowledged every year since 2009 with Excellence in Teaching Awards from the Faculty of Medicine and Paediatrics is consistently regarded as one of the most enjoyable and well taught specialities of the current Sydney Medical Program.

Our Postgraduate Team now administers 95 postgraduate students – and the standard of our student body is exceptional – the annual Postgraduate student conference is one of the highlights of the year. Our local postgraduate supervisor training program has trained 60 new accredited supervisors in the past four years. Our Professional Masters Program continues to flourish with over 40 students currently enrolled. And the Diploma of Child Health and the International Postgraduate Paediatric Certificate now caters for over 500 international students.

Thank you to all of our teachers and supervisors who make all of our Education and Research Programs so successful!

This will be my last newsletter as Associate Dean – I will be leaving at the end of 2012 to take up the position of the Director of the Murdoch Research Institute in Melbourne. While I am excited by the new challenge – it is still very sad for me to leave the Children’s Hospital and the University – which have been my virtual “home” for over 30 years (and I do think I have spent more of my conscious hours at work than at home over that time!). I started as a med student at the University in 1979 and did my BSc (Med) at the old Children’s Hospital at Camperdown in 1982. I fell in love with Paediatrics, Neurology and the Children’s Hospital during my undergraduate paediatric term in 1983 – and decided then and there that Paediatric Neurology was what I wanted to do with my life. My love of research was inspired by clinicians such as Robert Ouvrier and Kim Oates who seamlessly incorporated research and a search for the best evidence into their hectic clinical practices. I have always felt inspired and supported by all of my colleagues at the Children’s Hospital – and I believe that one of our greatest responsibilities for the future is to inspire and nurture the best students to pursue careers in paediatrics and medical research.

I have paid special attention to succession planning over my last 8 years as Associate Dean and I am proud of all the excellent academics and administrative staff in our Clinical School who will maintain our very high standards in education and mentorship and continue to provide leadership and encourage innovation within the University and the Hospital.

Thank you all for all of your support, enthusiasm and friendship over the past 30 years. I wish you all a happy, enjoyable and successful New Year!

Clinical teacher profile: Nick Pigott


Dr Nick Pigott is a staff specialist in intensive care medicine at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. He has been involved in medical education for many years through teaching medical students, lecturing, examining and curriculum development. He has taught Sydney Medical School students since 2010 and previously taught at the University of New South Wales and in London at St Georges’ Hospital Medical School and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

Nick teaches Stage 3 students on medical bedside tutorials as he enjoys getting to know the students in his group over six weeks. He likes to incorporate the interests, professional backgrounds and career aspirations of the students into the tutorials, as well as making sure he covers the core curriculum and helps students prepare for exams. He encourages students to step into the mindset of a resident on the ward after hours so they frame their conclusions in a clinical context and base their priorities, decisions and investigations on what they have seen and learnt. Above all, he wants students to be precise about what they say, as if they are a resident responsible for making decisions.

For Nick, seeking feedback from patients and parents about their interaction with students is important. He wants students to put themselves into the parents’ position so they learn to consider a parental perspective in the care of children. He challenges students and tries to give candid feedback about their errors, which he then works on with them, building on the support of all students in the group.

Not surprisingly, Nick’s medical bedside tutorials usually take two or three times the allocated hour, for which students are exceedingly grateful. One student recently wrote, “At each tutorial I learn things that will make me a safer, smarter, more precise-thinking and faster doctor. After each tutorial I feel profoundly grateful for his teaching.”

Research news

Kathryn North wins Ramaciotti Medal

Kathy lab

Congratulations to Professor Kathryn North, who has been awarded the prestigious Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research and a $50,000 grant. The Ramaciotti Medal recognises Kathy’s outstanding contribution to biomedical research in neuromuscular disorders, neurofibromatosis and the study of genes that influence athletic performance.

Kathy has already received worldwide recognition for leading the team that discovered a skeletal muscle gene (ACTN3) linked to athletic muscle performance and function. Dubbed “the gene for speed”, the research showed that although one in five Australians are deficient in α-actinin-3, Olympic sprint athletes are not. Kathy hopes to use the discovery to unlock new neuromuscular genetic information that will help children and adults prevent, isolate or better manage muscular diseases in the future.

Kathy spoke about the significance of the Ramaciotti Medal in a short film produced by The Ramaciotti Foundation

Congratulations to Elizabeth Elliott


Congratulations to Professor Elizabeth Elliot, who has received a 100 Women of Influence Award by The Australian Financial Review and Westpac. More than 350 women were nominated for these prestigious awards. The finalists were selected from across the economy by a panel of leading Australians. Those chosen have been successful in their careers and influential in shaping a bold and diverse future for Australia.

Liz has also been awarded a Distinguished Professorial Achievement Award by Sydney Medical School. The award recognises distinguished sustained achievements by professors in research, teaching and learning, as well as service to Sydney Medical School, the University and the profession.

Liz gave the inaugural lecture, Drinking for two: Stopping the harm from alcohol in pregnancy at Sydney Medical School’s 21st century medicine lecture series

Congratulations to Patrina Caldwell

Dr Patrina Caldwell won the best paper award at the ICCS/BAPU/ERIC (International Continence and Urology) meeting in London in October for her research “The Neat Study: An RCT of a novel alarm that enhances waking”. Patrina’s prize was a bottle of champagne, which she shared with her team. Overall they had five oral presentations and two posters at the conference, including an oral presentation from a medical student.


Student news

Medical student profile: Paediatric medicine interest group

interest group

A group of enthusiastic Sydney Medical Program students led by Stuart Murray and Kali Hockett from Stage 1, encouraged by Prof Kathryn North, have started a Paediatric Medicine Interest Group – SMP PMIG. Students interested in learning more paediatrics and contemplating a career as paediatricians have used social networking sites and presentations they have organised to share information.

Their interest prompted the organisation of a number of events to celebrate National Children’s Week 20 – 28th October 2012 at CHW. Students ran face painting, giant board games and a teddy bear clinic with hospital staff. The students are exploring the possibility of arranging the donation of eReaders to CHW. Students would then become involved in reading with hospital inpatients.

Postgraduate research student profile: Peter Hsu

Peter Hsu

Postgraduate research student profile: Peter Hsu
Dr. Peter Hsu is an advance trainee in Allergy/Immunology at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. He is currently doing his PhD part-time at Nepean Hospital on foetal-maternal immune tolerance during pregnancy.

The main focus of the study is on a special subset of immune cells called regulatory T (Treg) cells and dendritic cells, in particular looking at their roles in maintaining immune tolerance. Peter recently published a paper demonstrating the important role of Treg cells and dendritic cells in maintaining healthy pregnancy and how it is impaired in abnormal pregnancy such as preeclampsia.

Peter hopes the lessons of immune tolerance learnt from human pregnancy will provide important insights on how the immune system maintains tolerance in general. Peter is very grateful to have received support for his research in the form of an RACP scholarship, as well as grants from the Nepean Medical Research Foundation and Australian Women’s and Children’s Foundation.

Postgraduate research student award winners

Congratulations to Tania Polhill, who has received the Discipline’s inaugural prize for the best research paper written by a higher research degree student that was published in a peer-reviewed journal. Tania’s paper IL-2/IL-2Ab complexes Induce Regulatory T cell Expansion and Protect Against Proteinuric CKD was notable for the outstanding explanation of the study’s impact for health outcomes in lay terms. Tania’s supervisor is A/Prof Steve Alexander and her associate supervisors are Prof Carol Pollock, A/Prof David Harris, Dr Yuan Min and Dr Xin-Ming Chen. She submitted her PhD thesis in August this year.
Congratulations also to Highly Commended award winners Jad El Hoss for his paper A murine model of neurofibromatosis type 1 tibial pseudarthrosis featuring proliferative fibrous tissue and osteoclast-like cells, and Gulam Khandaker for his paper Neurologic complications of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09: Surveillance in 6 pediatric hospitals.

Grants, Achievements, Promotions and Titles

2013 NHMRC Grants

Prof Chris Cowell reports SCHN has had an outstanding success rate for NHMRC grant projects and fellowships this year. Of significance were the number of mid-career researchers who were successful for project grants and the number of early to mid-career researchers who attained fellowships.

CHW has done very well, sitting behind the George Institute and NHMRC clinical trials centre but at the top of the rest. This is the second successive year of excellent results compared to other institutes, departments and/or precincts.

SCHN’s success rate is in the top echelon, along with Garvan Institute, Walter and Eliza Institute in Melbourne and QIMR in Brisbane. The performance for project grants is at or just above the national average but success with fellowships has improved the overall performance.

Project Grants – Chief Investigator A (CIA) from SCHN
Chief Investigators: S Cooper, K North, J Egan
Project title: Dysferlinopathy: A genetic disease sheds light on membrane repair for muscle and cardiac injury.
Total Awarded: $755,954.79

Chief Investigators: N Wood, J Buttery, M Gold, P Richmond, N Crawford, B Barton, K Macartney
Project title: Febrile seizures following vaccination in children: How common are they and what is the long term clinical outcome?
Total awarded: $672,384.96

Chief Investigators: N Wood, H Gidding, P McIntyre, M Nissen, D Durrheim, J Norris, K Bosward, J Heller
Project title: Q fever: How common is it and how can we best prevent it? Research to inform Q fever vaccine policy in Australia and Internationally.
Total awarded: $721,150.51

Chief Investigators: K Waters, K Lushington, C Dakin
Project title: Does Adenotonsillectomy improve Neurocognition in pre-school children with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)?
Total awarded: $990,143.51

Chief Investigators: T Roscioli, JH Zhou, T Cox, M Buckley, H van Bokhoven, E Kirk
Project title: Gene identification in familial orofacial clefts by next generation sequencing of exomes and p63 regulatory elements.
Total awarded: $565,181.18

Chief Investigators: J Craig, E Hodson, D Lyle, D Yarnold
Project title: Antecedents of Renal Disease in Aboriginal Children and Young Adults – 16 year follow up.
Total awarded: $1,816,455.23

Project Grants – Chief Investigator B-J from SCHN
Chief Investigators: Y d’Udekem d’Acoz, W Hardikar, A Lyengar, R Weintraub, D Winlaw, I Konstantinov
Project title: Detection of Liver and Renal Function Abnormalities in the Australian & New Zealand Population of Fontan Patients.
Total awarded: $336,162.45

Chief Investigators: J Reath, H Gunasekera, P Abbott, D Askew, F Girosi, K Kong, C Bond, W Hu
Project title: Randomised controlled trial of antimicrobial treatment versus watchful waiting for acute otitis media without perforation in low risk Aboriginal children.
Total awarded: $1,640,326.16

Chief Investigators: W Tarnow-Mordi, R Soll, P Manzoni, B Darlow, D Isaacs, K Lui, D Schofield, D Wilkinson, A Martin, W Hague
Project title: Does bovine lactoferrin (bLF) reduce mortality and morbidity in very low birth weight infants?
Total awarded: $2,203,170.79

Chief Investigators: B Liu, A Newall, R MacIntyre, P McIntyre
Project title: Providing the evidence to guide adult immunisation strategies: a novel approach using a large prospective cohort study and record linkage.
Total awarded: $492,414.49

Chief Investigators: R Reddel, L Lau
Project title: A novel mechanism for sustained proliferation of cancer cells.
Total awarded: $546,347.10

Chief Investigators: C Wainwright, A Davidson, F Armstrong, A Quittner, O Salvado, C Robertson, C Byrnes, P Cooper
Project title: A randomized controlled trial of effect of early exposure to general anaesthesia on neurobehavioral outcomes in children with cystic fibrosis.
Total awarded: $572,727.45

Chief Investigators: C Wainwright, K Grimwood, P Sly, H Tiddens, P Hugenholtz, R Massie, C Robertson, P Cooper, C Byrnes, S Vidmar
Project title: Clinical and psychosocial changes over late childhood and adolescence and early life determinants of long term clinical outcomes in cystic fibrosis.
Total awarded: $1,135,570.31

Chief Investigators: F Babl, E Oakley, J Acworth, S Dalziel, S Donath, L Crowe, M Lyttle, S Dalton
Project title: How can we Accurately Predict Intra-cranial injury in children: The APIC Study.
Total awarded: $814,825.64

European Union Collaborative Research Grant
Chief Investigator: K North, H Dawkins
Project title: Improving health outcomes for chronic rare disease & reducing inequality of care.
Total awarded: $614,128

Practitioner Fellowships
Chief Investigators: D Little
Total awarded: $380,583

Chief Investigators: M Craig
Total awarded: $444,014

Career Development Fellowships
Chief Investigator: S Cooper
Project title: Dysferlin coordinates membrane repair of skeletal and cardiac injury.
Total awarded: $439,920

Chief Investigator: N Kasparian
Project title: Developing an evidence base for the psychological care of children and families affected by congenital heart disease.
Total awarded: $397,724

Chief Investigator: B Marais
Project title: Tuberculosis transmission and drug resistance in Australia and the Asian Pacific region.
Total awarded: $278,407

Early Career Fellowships
Chief Investigator: G Khandaker
Project title: Causes and consequences of acute encephalitis in children.
Total awarded: $251,695

Chief Investigator: M Lek
Project title: Improving the genetic diagnosis of neuromuscular disorders.
Total awarded: $338,836

Chief Investigator: H Gidding
Project title: Population-based studies to determine the effectiveness of Australia’s immunisation program.
Total awarded: $299,564

Appointments & titles

New titles
Dr Aditi Dey – Conjoint Senior Lecturer
Dr Chetan Pandit – Clinical Associate Lecturer
Dr Dan Catchpoole – Conjoint Associate Professor
Dr Alan Cheng - Clinical Associate Professor
Dr Yuan Min Wang – Conjoint Senior Lecturer
Dr Jehan Suleiman – Clinical Lecturer
Dr Fenton O’Leary – Clinical Associate Professor

Camille Raynes-Grenow– Senior Lecturer


Upcoming conferences and meetings


3rd Annual Winter Symposium in Intensive Care & Emergency Medicine: Colorado - 6-11/01/2013
. Visit for further information.

The 9th Annual Paediatric Palliative Care Symposium: Sydney - 7/03/2013 More information
Paediatric Pain Symposium: Sydney - 8/03/2013 More information.

12th National Rural Health Conference: Adelaide - 7-10/04/2013 Contact the Conference team by or phone +61 2 6285 4660 for details.
The 17th annual Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand Conference: Adelaide - 14-17/04/2013
More information
International Paediatric Simulation Symposium and Workshops: New York - 23-25/04/2013 Registrations open now

27th International Pediatric Association (IPA) Congress of Pediatrics: Melbourne - 24-29/08/2013 further information