Clinical School newsletter

2014 - Issue 2

CHW Clinical School news

Congratulations to Professor Peter van Asperen


Professor Peter van Asperen, Acting Associate Dean, has been awarded the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) Society Medal for 2014. The Society Medal was conceived as an acknowledgment of excellence in fields other than research; that is, for the advancement of the practice of thoracic medicine in its widest sense by, for example, outstanding teaching or advocacy. The inaugural Society Medal was presented at the annual dinner in Canberra in 1992 to Dr Maurice Joseph, who ably embodied the qualities envisaged by this prestigious senior award.

This is an outstanding achievement and is the first time a paediatric respiratory physician has received this honour.

Peter has also been awarded Emeritus membership and Fellowship of the TSANZ. Congratulations to Peter on these awards, and for his continued work with children with respiratory conditions and their families.

Congratulations to Professor Cheryl Jones


Professor Cheryl Jones has been successful in obtaining the position of Joint Theme Leader, Lifespan Research at Sydney Medical School with Professor Richard Lindley. One of the key recommendations in the Wills Health and Medical Research Strategic Review in 2013 was that, for maximum impact, our research aims should encompass the whole lifespan from a healthy start to life through to successful ageing. Sydney Medical School has launched the new Lifespan Research theme, which will merge our Reproductive Maternal and Child Health theme with the Healthy Ageing theme.

The Lifespan theme aims to facilitate a whole-of-life approach to research within Sydney Medical School and provides the opportunity to join with lifespan-related researchers across the University to create a Lifespan research community. In particular, the Lifespan theme will seek representation in the four new Strategic Priority Areas for Research Collaboration (SPARCs), encompassing Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease, Cancer, Mental Health and Neuroscience and Infectious Diseases.

The Lifespan theme is holding a postgraduate symposium on 1 August at the Kid’s Research Institute, CHW: register and submit an abstract online. The theme is also holding a Lifespan Research Day on 3 November and introducing a mentorship program. You can join the Lifespan Research Network to receive email updates on news and events.

Queen’s birthday honours

Congratulations to the following members of the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health who received Queen’s Birthday Honours:

AO - Professor Martin SILINK A: For distinguished service to medicine in the field of paediatric endocrinology as a clinician, researcher and administrator, and to international leadership in diabetes care and advocacy.

AM - Professor Nadia BADAWI: For significant service to paediatrics and neo-natal intensive care medicine as a clinician and researcher, and to the promotion of research into cerebral palsy.

Others who have had a connection with DPCH have also received awards:
AO - Professor Warwick John BRITTON (Phil’s father): For distinguished service to medical research as an academic and immunologist, to humanitarian and public health improvements for the people of Nepal, and to the community.

AO - Professor Heather Elizabeth JEFFERY: For distinguished service to medicine and tertiary education in the field of paediatrics, and to improved maternal and child health in rural and remote Australia and in developing countries.

AM - Professor John Paul SEALE: For significant service to medicine as a clinical pharmacologist, particularly in the field of respiratory illnesses.

AM - Professor Tania Christine SORRELL: For significant service to medicine and the community as an infectious diseases researcher and adviser.

Dean’s Visit to CHW Clinical School

The Dean, Professor Bruce Robinson, recently visited the Clinical School and discussed the new Doctor of Medicine (MD) course and progress in advertising for the Chair of Paediatrics & Child Health. The visit enabled the Clinical School to highlight the work of four academics:

Dr Hasantha Guasekera is a Chief Investigator in the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH). Through his work on SEARCH, he was awarded $950,000 from NSW Health to manage a new initiative: Hearing, Ear health and Language Services (HEALS) for urban Aboriginal children in NSW in 2013. He has been awarded a further $800,000 in 2014. In 2013 HEALS provided audiology and Ears, Nose and Throat (ENT) services for nearly 100 children, and speech therapy services for more than 200 children. The team are planning to provide a similar number of services with the 2014 funding.

Dr Karen Scott and Prof Dianne Campbell have been conducting polling in student lectures, with students using their mobile devices to respond to lecturers’ questions. Responses are displayed anonymously in the form of a graph on the lecture screen. This adaptive form of teaching and learning enables lecturers to see the level of student understanding so they can provide appropriate feedback. It also increases student engagement and improves retention of knowledge.

Associate Professor Russell Dale is currently the Postgraduate Coordinator and has been in this role for 6 years. In this time he has seen the numbers of postgraduate students increase from 60 to 106. This is an indication that the research culture at The Children’s Hospital is strong.

Clinical teacher profile: Dr Anthony Zehetner


Dr Anthony Zehetner enjoys dividing his time between working as a teacher and clinician in both private and public practice. He feels that the variety of settings and skill set required greatly enhance tutoring via a student-centred and cognitive-processing approach. He says, “Working with toddlers and teenagers means one must be constantly adapting and actively thinking to facilitate communication and engagement. Sometimes tertiary teaching is easier by comparison!”

Anthony completed a higher degree in education (Graduate Certificate in the Practice of Tertiary Teaching) at Newcastle University, where he was a Lecturer in Paediatrics (Clinical Academic) from 2011-13. He is currently a senior lecturer at The University of Sydney, teaching on the online Master of Medicine adolescent health module and Sydney Medical Program.

“I see myself more as an ‘education facilitator’ than a didactic imparter of knowledge”, he says. “Nowadays students can readily access information and my role is to help them evaluate the utility and validity of that material so it is appropriately applied to daily practice in a meaningful way”.

He says, “Medical bedside skills are kinaesthetic in nature. They have to be experienced and not read about or viewed online. The ability of a student to practice in a real-life scenario under supportive supervision is invaluable to foster and develop confidence (scaffolding paradigm). It is not all didactic: like patients, students constantly challenge your own standard of practice and keep you up-to-date”.

Anthony is no stranger to being a student himself. Since qualifying as a consultant paediatrician in 2010 and working part-time as a staff specialist in adolescent medicine, he has completed a Master of Medicine (Paediatric Medicine) and Diploma of Management. He appreciates the nuances of andragogy and multimodal learning style preferences. He also delivers emergency department teaching sessions, inservice sessions to ward staff and seminars to allied health professionals, undertakes school visits and is an invited speaker at general practitioner meetings.


Outside of these obligations, Anthony is a visiting medical officer (VMO) at Gosford Private Hospital, registered consultant pharmacist, member of the NSW Department of Health Stimulant Subcommittee and runs a thriving private practice.

“You never stop learning!”

Medical education update

Sydney Medical School Outstanding Teaching Awards: Applications are now open for the 2014 Sydney Medical School Awards for Outstanding Teaching, Excellence in Research Supervision, Support of the Student Experience and Systems that Achieve Collective Excellence in Learning and Teaching. Closing date 30 June 2014. Find out more.

An Introduction to Teaching at Sydney: The University’s Institute of Teaching and Learning (ITL) have developed an online course for teachers. ‘An introduction to teaching at Sydney’ is based on evidence from higher education research, the principles of good teaching and practical suggestions from experienced teachers at the University.

Sydney Teaching Colloquium: Is our assessment up to standard: The fourth Sydney Teaching Colloquium (STC) invites the university community to consider how assessment standards can be harnessed for learning. The Colloquium is an opportunity to discuss how assessment standards can address practical challenges in teaching and curriculum; for example, assessment design, marking and feedback, and questions about over-assessment. It is an occasion to ask whether our approach to assessment at unit, program and course levels is supporting an engaged enquiry learning experience for students. Proposals are being sought from the university community by 4 July.

Postcard from Paris by Meg Phelps


Summer has arrived in Paris. The summer solstice on June 21 was celebrated with the Fête de la Musique; performances, both formally programmed and spontaneous, throughout the streets into the long evening and the night. Museums and galleries are changing their exhibitions and shows for the summer. Strawberries, raspberries and stone fruits from France are appearing in the markets.

The University and school years are almost over. The final year medical students throughout France have just sat the Epreuves Nationales Classantes (ECN), the written, exit, ranking examination, and will hear in July in which specialty and where in France they will be training. This written exam – there is no clinical component – has been their focus for eighteen months.


Stained glass reflection at Poitiers

Three students from Université Descartes Paris 5 will arrive in July to undertake their ‘stage d’été’ (summer elective), two at CHW and one at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. At Nepean Hospital they will again welcome two students from Université Pierre et Marie Curie Paris 6. Five Sydney Medical School students have been offered positions for their Elective term in our Summer 2014/2015 as part of these reciprocal arrangements.
You can read the ‘impressions’ of the two students who completed their Elective term and Child and Adolescent Health specialty block at Hôpital Necker, Paris, recently here.

The improved weather has improved the general French spirit a little. There has been less discussion about the failings of President Francois Holland and the usual early summer exercising of their right to strike. Perhaps the positive performance by Les Bleus in the World Cup so far has helped. The Australian win in the rugby union test series recently seems to have not had too much of an impact. French people are hoping they will not only be celebrating their national day Bastille Day, 14th July, but a World Cup win!


At the Bagatelle

Congratulations to Robert Howman-Giles

Congratulations to Robert Howman-Giles who was recently awarded life membership of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine. This is a great honour and reflects the outstanding contribution he has made locally at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and internationally in the field of paediatric nuclear medicine

Research news

Congratulations to Prof Cheryl Jones, Dr Philip Britton and Prof Robert Booy

Cheryl & Phil

Cheryl and Phil

Congratulations to Professor Cheryl Jones, Dr Philip Britton and Professor Robert Booy, who were successful in an application to the Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation entitled, ‘Discovering the Infectious Causes of unknown Encephalitis cases using genomic approaches: the DICE study’. They received the award at the annual Foundation dinner on April 5 at Dockside, Cockle Bay Wharf. They will use the funding to purchase a dedicated -80˚C Freezer for storage of biological specimens from children with encephalitis.

The Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation is a private, self-funded organisation that supports medical research by providing annual research grants within a number of research categories including Brain Sciences.

Congratulations to Dr Philip Britton: RACP PCHD NHMRC Award for Excellence


Congratulations to Dr Philip Britton for receiving the first Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ Paediatric and Child Health Division NHMRC Award for Excellence. This partnership between the NHMRC the RACP aims to support the top young clinical researchers as part of a shared commitment to nurture the next generation of medical researchers. Each Award for Excellence recipient will receive $10,000 per annum from the RACP Foundation, in addition to their NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship, for up to three years.

Congratulations to Dr Nicholas Wood: Highest ranked Career Development Fellowship – Clinical, Level 1


Congratulations to Dr Nicholas Wood, staff specialist, general paediatrician and senior lecturer in the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health. Through his Career Development Fellowship 1 in the Clinical stream, Nick will be conducting research on adverse events following immunisation with the aim of improving policy and practice and promoting confidence in the safety of vaccines.

Early Career Researcher profile: A/Prof Sarah Garnett

Sarah Garnett is a Senior Research Fellow/Senior Dietitian in the Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and a conjoint Associate Professor with Sydney Medical School. She completed her PhD in 2006 under the supervision of Professors Louise Baur and Chris Cowell, and has since held an NHMRC Post-doc Clinical Research Fellowship and a Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Development Fellowship. The main focus of her research is preventing and treating childhood obesity, the most common chronic disease in childhood.

Sarah has a particular interest in obese children and adolescents that are at risk of, or have been diagnosed with, type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, once known as mature onset diabetes, is frequently perceived to be a milder form of diabetes. However, type 2 diabetes diagnosed in adolescence or young adulthood is more lethal and associated with a greater mortality, more complications and unfavourable cardiovascular disease risk factors than type 1 diabetes. Current research projects, including randomised control trials, are examining the effects of different diets on weight loss and metabolic markers. The diets have included manipulating the macronutrient (protein/carbohydrate) and trialing a very low energy diet (shakes/bars) to cure type 2 diabetes. Her research team is about to commence a study examining the effect of intermittent fasting, popularised as the 5:2 diet.

Sarah is collaborating with researchers from the Kids Cancer Centre, SCHN to establish interventions to prevent the onset of obesity and related co-morbidities in childhood cancer survivors. She is also collaborating with Professor Jennie Brand-Miller examining the effect of a low glycaemic diet in pregnancy on infant growth and body composition. In addition to intervention studies, Sarah is also involved in cohort and epidemiological studies. She has undertaken secondary data analysis and published results from Australian National Surveys, the UK Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and a survey of Han children living in Chongqing, south-west China.

Sarah is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee and subcommittee of the SCHN Human Research Ethics Committee and actively involved in the Nutrition Society of Australia (past Chair, Sydney Group) and the Australian Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Network. Between 2009 and 2013 she was a First Editor of the British Journal of Nutrition. Sarah has supervised a number of students undertaking Honours, Masters and PhDs.

Early Career Researcher update

Early career researcher (ECR) “Talk and cheese” seminar

When: 1-2pm
Where: Doreen Dew lecture theatre
Date: Wednesday 30 July 2014
Topic: Aspects of supervision: Good and bad experiences
Speakers: Russell Dale and Yvonne Zurynski

Lunch will be provided.

Subsequent seminars will be held on:
Tuesday 16 September
Wednesday 29 October

These sessions are intentionally kept fairly informal with lots of time for open discussion and questions. This program has been developed to address ECR education needs identified in the DPCH ECR research study. Seminars will be held every two months and will address key topics that are relevant for all ECRs with clinical, basic-science and public health interests. This is an excellent opportunity to meet other ECRs and strengthen ties within the ECR community.

The target audience is all ECRs who are in the first 10 years post-PhD, however interested senior researchers and final-stage PhD students are also welcome.

The coordinators of these events are Wendy Gold, Patrina Caldwell, Karen Walker and Nigel Clarke. If you have any questions, please contact

Early career researcher (ECR) travel grants
The Sydney Medical School Early Career Researcher (ECR) Travel Grant Scheme is now open. Applications are invited from ECRs within ten years of PhD Award who hold an appointment up to Level C. The scheme is aimed at providing financial support of up to $2,500 for ECRs to present at and attend international conferences. Please note that in 2014 a three year exclusion period applies, i.e. applicants who have previously been awarded a Sydney Medical School ECR grant within three years at the time of closing will be ineligible in this round.

Applications close on 30 September 2014. Full guidelines and the application form are available here.

Medical education research update

The CHW Medical Education Research meetings are held on the first Tuesday of every second month from 12 to 1pm in the CHW Clinical School seminar room. The next Medical Education Research meeting will be held on Tuesday 1 July. Dr Arany Nerminathan will present her research into clinician use of mobile devices in clinical settings and Dr Soundappan will present a journal article review.

Subsequent meetings in 2014 will be held on 2 September and 4 November. If you would like more information, please contact or .

Sydney Medical Program also runs regular Medical Education Research Symposiums. The forums are for anyone interested in, and working on, medical education research to come together, listen and respond to work being done by Sydney researchers and connect with other researchers. Symposiums are held on Camperdown campus from 12 to 2pm. The upcoming symposium will feature ‘Team based learning’ by Dr Annette Burgess and Professor Craig Mellis from RPA Clinical School, and ‘Expertise and expert performance in medicine’ by Dr Allistair McRobert from Liverpool John Moores University. Registration is essential and Web conferencing can be arranged. More information.

The following journal articles written by DPCH staff have recently been accepted for publication in medical education research:

Scott KM, Caldwell PHY & Schuwirth LWT. Ten steps for conducting health professional education research. The Clinical Teacher. (In Press)

Scott KM, Lewis MJ & Caldwell PHY. Writing well in medicine and other disciplines. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. (In Press)

Scott KM. Taking over someone else's elearning design: Challenges trigger change in elearning beliefs and practices. Research in Learning Technology (In Press)

Student news

Postgraduate student profile: Michael Nafisinia


Michael Nafisinia is currently in the second year of his PhD candidature in the Genetic Metabolic Disorders Group at the Kids Research Institute (KRI), CHW. Prof John Christodoulou, Dr Wendy Gold and Dr Lisa Riley are Michael’s PhD supervisors.

Michael began to develop an interest in genetics research when he did his Masters in Mitochondrial Paternal Linkage at the University of New South Wales. He was privileged enough to translate his research findings into a publication and based on his track record, received an APA scholarship from the University of Sydney.

The primary focus of Michael’s PhD research is the identification of novel pathogenic variations in Mendelian disorders, including inborn errors of metabolism and other Mendelian disorders, with the express aim of gaining a better understanding of the biology of these disorders.

The outcomes of his research include increased understanding of the pathogenesis of genetic disorders, which could ultimately translate to the development of effective therapies, and improved accuracy of genetic counselling.

The first year of his candidature has been very successful as he was awarded the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) prize for travel to the 38th Annual Scientific Meeting.

Congratulations to Shekeeb Mohammad


Dr.Shekeeb Mohammad, the current academic fellow with the CHW Clinical School, recently presented results from his PhD entitled “Movement disorder phenomenology helps differentiate anti-NMDAR encephalitis from Autoimmune Basal Ganglia encephalitis” at the 13th International Child Neurology Congress in Iguassu Falls, Brazil, May 2014. This presentation was awarded the best in the movement disorder sub-specialty.

Shekeeb’s research described clinical features that can be used to distinguish autoimmune movement disorders due to different aetiologies such as anti-NMDAR encephalitis, autoimmune basal ganglia encephalitis (shown to be associated with anti-D2R antibodies by his PhD supervisors Dr.Fabienne Brilot and A/Prof Russell Dale in 2012) and Sydenham’s chorea. The research methodology undertaken was a blinded video review of archived videos of children with this condition using standard nomenclature. A/Prof Victor SC Fung and Dr Sudarshini Ramanathan from Westmead Hospital and Dr Padraic Grattan-Smith from CHW were collaborators in this work.

We also congratulate Shekeeb on being one of 106 Australians who have been awarded the Winston Churchill Fellowship for 2014. The fellowship trust was formed with the principal objective of perpetuating and honouring Sir Winston’s memory. It provides an opportunity for Australians to travel overseas to conduct research in their chosen field and provides them with further opportunity in their pursuit of excellence for the enrichment of Australian society.

Shekeeb aims to utilize this opportunity to visit the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Evelina London Children’s Hospital to broaden his experience and skills in managing children with basal ganglia disorders. Shekeeb is mentored by his PhD supervisors A/Prof Russell Dale and Dr Fabienne Brilot, and would like to acknowledge valuable guidance from previous Churchill fellows Dr Manoj Menezes and Dr Emily Oates.

Degrees awarded May 2014

The Graduation Ceremony in May this year was a wonderful event shared with family, friends and supervisors.

Congratulations to the following Research Higher Degree candidates:

Diane Grote, MPhil
Astrovirus and norovirus in a paediatric setting.
Supervisors: Alison Kesson, Kin-Chuen Leung

Frances Lemckert, PhD
Dysferlin membrane repair is required for recovery from cardiac ischaemia-reperfusion injury.
Supervisors: Sandra Cooper, Kathryn North, Jonathan Egan

Sarah McIntyre, PhD
Causal pathways to cerebral palsy in term and near-term singletons: Analysis of a total population case control study.
Supervisors: Nadia Badawi, Eve Blair

Saira Bahnu Mohamed Yousoof, PhD
Genomic & functional approaches in identification and characterisation of novel eye disease genes.
Supervisors: Robyn Jamieson, Greg Peters

Esther Tantsis, PhD
Clinical, radiological and immunological features predictive of relapse after a 1st episode of CNS inflammatory demyelination in Australian children.
Supervisors: Russell Dale, Fabienne Brilot-Turville

Kerrie Wiley, PhD
A mixed methods study of maternal influenza and pertussis vaccination behaviours during pregnancy and the post-partum period.
Supervisors: Julie Leask, Nicholas Wood

Jessie Zhong, PhD
NEDD9 and glioblastoma.
Supervisors: Geraldine O’Neill, Stefan Arold

   Frances Jessie Kerrie Julie Students and Greg    

Grants, Achievements, Promotions and Titles

New titles

Shekeeb Mohammad – Clinical Lecturer
Patrick Thompson– Clinical Lecturer
Paul Benitez-Aguirre – Clinical Senior Lecturer (Feb)
Paul Robinson – Clinical Senior Lecturer
Angus Alexander – Clinical Lecturer


Upcoming conferences and meetings


ANZAHPE 2014: Gold Coast, Queensland 7-10/7/2-14
The Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Health Professional Educators (ANZAHPE), on the Gold Coast from Monday the 7th to Thursday the 10th of July, 2014. The theme of this year’s conference is Developing Health Professional Educators: Connecting Science and Theory with Learning for Clinical Practice.
For further information please visit!2014-conference/c22t1

ASME Annual Scientific Meetings 2014: Brighton, UK 16-18/7/2014
The theme of this year’s meeting of the Association for the Study of Medical Education is ‘Education, Scholarship and Leadership in Pursuit of Excellent Patient Care’.
For futher information please visit

ANZCNS Annual Scientific Meeting. Adelaide - 25-27 July 2014
Keynote speakers for this year's Australia and New Zealand Child Neurology Society meeting are Dr Janice Fletcher, Metabolic Physician and Prof Nigel Laing, Expert in Neuromuscular Disorders. Key sessions will focus on stroke in childhood, neurometabolic disorders, neuropsychiatry and epilepsy. Social events linked to this meeting include a tour of the wineries in McLaren Vale. We hope to see you in Adelaide! REGISTER/SUBMIT AN ABSTRACT

Paediatric Society of QLD (PSQ) Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting: Brisbane - 5&6/09/2014
This year’s PSQ Annual Conference (incorporating the Brisbane ‘Winter’ Endocrine Symposium) will be held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Southbank, on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 September 2014. The 2014 Turner-Gibson Oration will be delivered at the Conference Dinner on the Friday evening.
Visit as the year progresses for 2014 Conference program details and a registration form. Selected presentations from previous Meetings are also available for download via the Conference website

Summit on Child Health and the Environment Hong Kong - 11-13 Oct 2014
This summit will be held in Hong Kong from 11 to 13 October 2014. For more information please visit

AAP Experience National Conference San Diego - 11-14 Oct 2014
This American Academy of Pediatrics conference will be held in San Diego from 11 to 14 October 2014. For further information please visit

International Conference on Residency Education: Canada - 23-25/10/2014
For more information visit the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada website or .

4th International Congress of Union of European Neonatal and Perinatal Societies: Greece - 11-14/12/2014
This Congress will be held in Athens, Greece from 11 - 14 December 2014. For more information visit


5th Annual Winter Symposium in Intensive Care, Anaesthesia & Emergency Medicine: Colorado - 11-16 January 2015
The 5th Annual Winter Symposium in Intensive Care, Anaesthesia & Emergency Medicine will be held 11 to16 January 2015 at Four Seasons Resort & Spa, Vail, Colorado. Contact or visit for more information.

The Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman 4th International Conference on Pediatric Chronic Diseases, Disability and Human Development: Jerusalem - 20-23 Jan 2015
This event will be held from 20 to 23 January 2015 in Jerusalem, Israel. Visit for more information.