Paediatrics & Youth Health

Douglas Burrows Chair of Paediatrics and Child Health

Sydney Medical School Foundation's Douglas Burrows Chair of Paediatrics and Child Health supports research into diseases that cause ill health and death in infants and young children. The Chair was established in 1983 in honour of Mr Douglas Burrows, Chair of the Children’s Hospital Westmead Board of Management and significant supporter until his sudden death in 1982.

To date there have been three Professors to hold the title of Douglas Burrows Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Professor Kathryn North (2004-present)

Professor Kathryn North

Professor Kathryn North was appointed the Douglas Burrows Professor of Paediatrics in mid 2004. Professor North is also Associate Dean of the Children's Hospital at Westmead Clinical School and Head of the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health within Sydney Medical School. Professor North is Head of the hospital's Neurogenics Research Unit and Deputy Head of the Institute for Neuromuscular Research.

Professor North's laboratory research interests focus on the molecular basis of inherited muscle disorders - particularly the muscular dystrophies and congenital myopathies - as well as genes which influence normal skeletal muscle function and elite athletic performance.

Neuromuscular disorders are a major cause of ongoing disability in childhood. They cause progressive and disabling weakness and often an affected child will lose the ability to walk. In children whose breathing and swallowing muscles are affected respiratory failure and early death may result. While some of these disorders are treatable, for many children there is currently no cure. Most neuromuscular disorders of childhood are genetic and more than one person in a family may be affected. For example, the muscular dystropies are a group of hereditary muscle diseases which can result in severe and often-progressive muscle weakness.

At the Children's Hospital, Professor North has established the clinical Neurogenetics Service which currently cares for more than 1,500 patients and their families. Professor North's clinical research focuses on clinical trials of therapies for muscular dystrophy as well as the development of interventions for children with learning disabilities.

Further information about their research can be found on the INMR website:

Professor Craig Mellis (1998-2003)

Professor Craig Mellis & patient

Professor Craig Mellis was the Douglas Burrows Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health from 1998 to 2003. His special research interest is in childhood asthma and cystic fibrosis. He is Chief Investigator in the Childhood Asthma Prevention Study, a large randomised study involving 600 children. The 18-month assessment of data included analyses of the actual reductions in house dust mite exposure and the levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in the infants in this study. All 600 children recently underwent their three year outcomes assessment.

Professor Mellis is currently the Associate Dean of Central Clinical School.



Professor Kim Oates, AM (1985-1997)

Professor Kim Oates

Professor Oates has devoted the major part of his career to the area of child abuse and neglect. His long-term studies of sexually abused children have shown the impact of the abuse continues to affect behaviour, self-esteem and expression at least into early adulthood.

In 1996 Professor Oates was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of his contributions to paediatrics and child welfare.

Professor Oates is currently the CEO of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead Clinical School.