Around the universities and research institutes

Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja17.1610C2
Published online: 16 October 2017

The Doherty Institute acknowledged the contributions of long-time employee Jenny Taplin who died in late 2016. She spent 38 years as a bacteriologist in the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory (MDU PHL) at the University of Melbourne. For much of her time at MDU PHL she headed the Salmonella Reference Section, which also functioned as the regional reference laboratory for the phage-typing of Salmonella Typhi. In 1977 Jenny, along with Sue Dixon from IMVS in South Australia, identified infant milk formula as the cause of a national outbreak of infant gastroenteritis with Salmonella Bredeney. This outbreak greatly influenced future approaches to food-borne disease investigations and food safety requirements. The S Bredeney outbreak helped highlight the need for nationwide Salmonella surveillance. Collaboration between MDU PHL, IMVS, the Commonwealth Department of Health and the Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM) led to the establishment of the National Salmonella Surveillance Scheme (NSSS; now NEPSS, the National Enteric Pathogens Surveillance Scheme). NSSS/NEPSS have been major tools in the epidemiological investigations of salmonellosis and provision of early warning to health authorities of food-borne disease from Salmonellae.

University of Melbourne Professor Cordelia Fine has won the prestigious 30th anniversary Royal Society Insight Investment Science Books Prize for her book Testosterone rex: unmaking the myths of our gendered minds. The award is described as the “Booker Prize of science writing” and judges praised Testosterone rex for its “eye-opening, forensic look at gender stereotypes and its urgent call for change”. Professor Fine said she was “deeply honoured to have been awarded the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize”. Testosterone rex brings together evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience and social history to move beyond old “nature versus nurture” debates, and disprove the myth that testosterone, or the lack of it, shapes men and women into virtually separate species. It is Professor Fine’s third book, following the critically acclaimed Delusions of gender and A mind of its own. Chosen from a shortlist of six, Professor Fine was awarded a cheque for £25 000 at the ceremony in London on Tuesday 19 September.

Dr Elizabeth Magassy has been appointed as a Deputy Chancellor of the University of Wollongong for a 2-year term effective immediately until 18 August, 2019. Dr Magassy has been in full-time general practice in Wollongong since 1978 and for 10 years worked in general practice obstetrics, delivering around a thousand babies. She is a past president of the Illawarra Medical Association (1995-2000), a past chairman of the Illawarra Division of General Practice (2001-2004), has been chairman of The Figtree Private Hospital Medical Advisory Committee, a member of the NSW General Practice Council, and served as a member of Professional Services Review. She is currently chairman of Radio Doctor Illawarra and in 2005 was appointed as Clinical Associate Professor in Graduate Medicine at UOW.

A Western Sydney University medical student has worked to develop the prototype for an educational app, which has been announced as the overall winner of Elsevier Hacks 2017. Elsevier Hacks is an app-building conference which brings medical students from around the world together with coders and designers. Alice Leung, a WSU MBBS student, travelled to Finland to participate. One of only 16 students selected from more than 1500 applicants – Alice initially pitched the idea to develop a smartphone app that allowed medical students to learn their course material anytime, anywhere. After arriving in Finland, Alice was paired with two developers and two other medical students from the Netherlands and Spain. The team pooled their ideas and skills to develop a functional prototype for a new app, “PatientX”. The app is effectively a “chat bot” – like Siri – which processes and responds to verbal or written instructions. As the winner of Elsevier Hacks 2017, Alice’s team is aiming to continue working on PatientX, and take it to the stage of development and commercialisation.

The University of Western Australia’s Dr Gabrielle Brand was awarded the Flinders University ANZAHPE Award for Excellence in Health Professions Education for her research and innovative resource to support excellence in the delivery of patient-centred health care. The award was presented to Dr Brand at the Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators (ANZAHPE) Conference in Adelaide. A narrative researcher within the UWA School of Allied Health, Dr Brand won the award for her design and development of Depth of Field: Exploring Ageing, an innovative, inter-professional, reflective learning resource for current and future health professionals. The resource, which is currently being used as core curricula across the Australian and New Zealand higher education and health care sector, uses documentary style photographs and narrated film of older West Australians to stimulate in-depth discussion, examine unexplored stereotypes and challenge health professional students to widen their views around ageing and promote patient-centred care in preparation for their clinical placements.



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