News briefs

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust 2015; 203 (4): 157. || doi: 10.5694/mja15.n0817
Published online: 17 August 2015

Trailblazing former MJA editor dies

Professor Priscilla Kincaid-Smith, former acting editor of the Medical Journal of Australia, and a trailblazer for Australian female scientists, has died at her Melbourne home from complications following a stroke, the ABC reports. She was 88. Professor Kincaid-Smith was a world-renowned nephrologist, discovering the link between overuse of headache powders and kidney disease. She was the first female professor at the University of Melbourne in 1975, first female chair of the Royal Australian College of Physicians, first female chair of the Australian Medical Association and the first female — and first Australian — chair of the World Medical Association. She was acting editor of the MJA in 1995. A full obituary will be published in a forthcoming issue of the MJA.

Social media use linked to teens’ mental health

A new Canadian study has found that teenagers who use social media sites for two hours or more each day are significantly more likely to suffer from poor mental health, psychological distress and suicidal thoughts, the Huffington Post reports. “It could be that teens with mental health problems are seeking out interactions as they are feeling isolated and alone,” Dr Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga, the lead author of the Ottawa Public Health study, wrote. “Or they would like to satisfy unmet needs for face-to-face mental health support.” The solution, he suggested, was not to get teens off social media. “Since teens are on the sites, it is the perfect place for public health and service providers to reach out and connect with this vulnerable population and provide health promotion systems and supports.”

Nominations open for 2015 ACHS Medal

Nominations for the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards 2015 ACHS Medal are now open. The award recognises outstanding achievement in the advancement of quality and safety in health care in Australia. “The ACHS Medal provides an opportunity to further promote the work of an individual who has made a strong contribution in their particular field in health, by highlighting the improvements being made in safety and quality,” ACHS Chief Executive Officer, Dr Christine Dennis, said. Recent recipients of the medal include Kae Martin (2014); Adjunct Professor Christopher Brook PSM (2013); and Professor Robert “Bob” Gibberd (2012). The closing date for nominations is 5pm, Friday 25 September, and the nomination form can be found at

Top Canadian pathologist steps down

Retraction Watch reports that prominent pathologist Dr Sylvia Asa has resigned from running the largest hospital diagnostic laboratory in Canada because of an investigation that uncovered evidence of falsified data in two papers. Dr Asa was the program medical director of the Laboratory Medicine Program at the University Health Network, affiliated with the University of Toronto. Two papers coauthored by Dr Asa have been retracted by the American Journal of Pathology. “Following correspondence in September 2012 from a concerned reader … [an investigative committee] informed the Editors in April 2015 that the articles in question contain falsified data”, the AJP editors said. Problems included “manipulated and/or fabricated data”.

Transgender women show “shocking” HIV rates

A World Health Organisation report shows that a transgender woman was 49 times more likely to be living with HIV [than the general population] in 15 countries in which data was analysed, NPR reports. Transgender people are not receiving adequate health care, and widespread discrimination is largely to blame, according to the WHO paper. Among sex workers, transgender women are nine times more likely to have HIV than their non-transgender counterparts. “What is driving the epidemic is really the refusal of governments to pass legislation that allows [transgendered people] to function in society, and allows them to participate in the workplace”, JoAnne Keatley, a coauthor of the WHO report, said. “Trans people struggle in order to obtain identity documents that allow them to participate in the workforce. Many trans people are not able to obtain health coverage.”

  • Cate Swannell



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