World leader in injury and pain research is new Dean of Health Sciences
27 August 2012
Professor Kathryn Refshauge, an internationally recognised leader in sports injuries and musculoskeletal pain research, has commenced as the new Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney.
With a range of international and professional appointments, Professor Refshauge brings a wealth of experience in allied health teaching, research and academic management.
"I am particularly eager to see our people - staff, students and alumni - having a real, public presence on issues of national and international significance and ensuring that our research and teaching has an impact on the challenges facing the health and related sectors," says Professor Refshauge.
Formerly Deputy Dean of the faculty and an alumna of the University, Professor Refshauge is internationally recognised as a research leader in musculoskeletal pain and injury, particularly sports injuries, back pain and neck pain.
Professor Refshauge is especially known for her work on the safety of the contentious practice of neck manipulation, which has ignited debate among health practitioners, lawyers and patients around the world.
Having conclusively demonstrated in a National Health and Medical Research Council-funded study that neck manipulation does not confer greater benefit than less risky treatments for neck pain, Professor Refshauge led the development and implementation of best practice guidelines to minimise risk.
Professor Refshauge also conducted the first investigation of a conservative treatment for children with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a progressive peripheral neuropathy, with the aim of preventing surgery.
Her work in this area has led to an array of further studies, including the design of new interventions. She now collaborates with University of Sydney colleagues Associate Professor Joshua Burns and Professor Kathryn North on a Centre for Research Excellence focused on translating into practice their pioneering research for children with neuromuscular diseases.
She maintains numerous state and national board appointments, including as board member of Sports Medicine Australia and Deputy Chair of the NSW Population and Health Services Ethics Committee, and holds honorary professorships at the University of Cardiff, Wales and the University of Malaya, Malaysia.
She is also known for her leadership in mentoring the next generation of allied health researchers and in pioneering policies and practices that promote PhD education and early career research development.
Along with her appointments across the University, she remains an active researcher and mentor in the faculty's Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Research Laboratory. She has been presented with three awards for excellence in research supervision.
Professor Refshauge takes over from Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn, who was Dean of Health Sciences from 2005.
"I am honoured to take on this position following the outstanding leadership of Professor Llewellyn. The faculty can be justifiably proud of its achievements over the last seven years, and I am delighted to continue to be part of the journey."
"The faculty aims to improve the quality of life of people around the world who experience, injury illness, chronic health conditions or disability. I look forward to seeing continued growth in the quality, impact and recognition of our research, which in turn allows us to stay at the forefront of educating the future leaders of health professions," she says.
Professor Refshauge has also contributed substantially to University-wide initiatives such as the review of PhD education and the establishment of the Charles Perkins Centre, and has a strong commitment to embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander matters in all business of the faculty.
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