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                                THE BRIDGE
     University                 Newsletter of the School of Public Health
     of Sydney

     Issue 3                                                                                                                   April 2008

     In this issue:                           Celebrating Success
     Page Two
                                                                                              Philosophy students – was awarded a
     Commissioned research: all good
                                                                                              Fulbright Fellowship at an award ceremony
                                                                                              held in Perth. Full details of Sharon’s story
     Page Three                                                                               appears on page 3.
     Bright future for scholarship winner
                                                                                              I recently had the privilege of travelling to
                                                                                              Hyderabad, India for the signing of a MOU
     Page Five                                                                                between the Indian Council of Medical
     Eureka – Alex wins prize again!                                                          Research (ICMR), The George Institute for
                                                                                              International Health and the University of
     Page Six                                                                                 Sydney Faculty of Medicine. Combined with
                                                                                              the official opening of the George Institute
     Inaugural Public Health Alumni                                                           India office in Hyderabad, the future for
     Cocktail Evening
                                                                                              collaborative research, teaching and training
                                                                                              between the University of Sydney and our
     Page Eight                                                                               colleagues in India is very bright.
     Qualitative research’s new champion                                                      Our own Alex Barratt has streaked ahead of
                                              Professor Glenn Salkeld                         the pack yet again by winning for the second
     Page Nine                                                                                year in a row the Eureka prize for Health

     Q&A with Lalit Dandona, Director               hrough the quietness of a Sydney          and Medical Journalism. Alex was awarded
     of International Public Health at the          summer has come the news that             the Eureka prize for her two-part radio series
     School of Public Health and Senior             three of our academic staff have been     entitled Facing the Evidence. The full story is
     Director of the George Institute India   promoted. Judy Simpson (Biostatistics) and      on page 5.
                                              Jonathan Craig (Clinical Epidemiology) have     Combining the theory, practice and policy
     Page Eleven                              both been promoted to Professor and Jane        of aspects of public health is no small
     Institute expands for better health      Young (Director of the Surgical Outcomes        achievement but it is something that Michael
                                              Research Centre - SOuRCe) to Associate          Frommer and his Sydney Health Projects
     Page Twelve                              Professor. Each has made a very substantial     Group do every day. An article on just some of
                                              contribution to the School. Judy, together      their activities appears on page 2.
     The new Head of School team              with colleagues at the CTC, NSW Health and      Last November we hosted the inaugural
     What’s On, New Staff                     other institutions has driven the successful    Public Health Alumni cocktail evening in the
                                              Biostatistics Collaboration Australia (BCA),    Great Hall. More than 120 alumni, staff and
                                              a training scheme that provides Masters         friends attended the social event and heard
                                              level qualifications in biostatistics and the   from Professor Bruce Robinson (Dean of
        2008 Alumni Awards                    opportunity for a placement in the health       Medicine) and myself on the future for Public
                                              system as a biostats trainee. Jonathan          Health and the importance of our alumni to
                                              Craig has many credits to his name but it       achieving our goals. We hope that it will be
Do you know of an outstanding graduate        is the highly successful Masters program in     the first of what is at least an annual social
worthy of recognition? This year’s Alumni     Clinical Epidemiology that stands out. With     event. More generally, we will be highlighting
Awards honours accomplishments in             the help of many colleagues, Jonathan has       the graduate experience and tales from
four categories:                              built this course into a very strong program    our alumni in this newsletter and in our
                                              for clinicians to learn about how to apply      promotional material to prospective students.
                                              ‘best evidence’ to their day-to-day work and    Our alumni are a great source of inspiration
• Community Achievement                       research. In the space of five years, Jane      and support to our students and staff alike.
                                              Young and her colleagues at SOuRCe have         If you are an alumnus/alumna of the School
• International Achievement                   established a highly successful unit based at   and have a story to tell don’t be shy – please
                                              the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital conducting     contact our Newsletter Editor, Felicity Barry.
                                              high quality health services research with
• Professional Achievement                    local clinicians. This success culminated
                                              in a Cancer Institute NSW Health Services       Professor Glenn Salkeld
• Young Alumni Achievement                    Research Grant of $1.7m to conduct a RCT        Head, School of Public Health
                                              of providing nurse-supported coordinated care
                                              for cancer patients.
Nomination deadline: Friday 30 May            We are proud and fortunate to have such            We are proud and fortunate
For more information and nomination           distinguished academics in the School of           to have such distinguished
forms please visit:                           Public Health.
                                                                                                 academics in the School of
                                              We also take pride in the achievements of
                                              our students. On March 13 this year, Sharon        Public Health.
                                              Bonython-Ericson – one of our Master of

    Commissioned research:
    all good
      n a university like ours, commissioned
      research is often seen as second-rate,
      something that real researchers do only
    when pressed or for extra money.
    We members of the Sydney Health Projects
    Group (SHPG) do commissioned research
    as our main day job. We were set up in
    2002 as a small unit affiliated with the
    School of Public Health, intending to
    be self-funding from our commissioned
    projects. We have been kept very busy
    for almost six years, and are proud of
    the number of things that have been
    implemented all over Australia as a result
    (at least in part) of our work. Our clients
    are government departments and agencies
    throughout Australia, non-government
    agencies, professional bodies, universities
    and private-sector health organisations.
    We also fulfil our academic duties as
    University staff members in teaching and
    curriculum development in the University
    of Sydney Medical and Dental programs
    and the Master of Public Health program.
    Commissioned research does not
    necessarily produce traditional academic
    outputs. Our output is mainly in the form      Professor Michael Frommer, Director , Sydney Health Projects Group, School of
    of reports, some of which are published,                                      Public Health
    and some of which get into peer-reviewed
                                                  compiling data (including consultations),        their needs, because we bring independent
    Example projects                              analysing data, synthesising conclusions         appraisal and rigour, and because our
                                                  and recommendations, and producing               track record gives credibility and focus
    What are some examples of our work that       a useful report. We often find that our
    have been or are being implemented? Here                                                       to our work for their benefit. In the other
                                                  clients value the process of crystallising       direction, we bring an understanding of
    are a few from a very long and diverse
                                                  questions and needs as much as our report        real-world imperatives to the School.
    list. Big things include a cancer services
                                                  with conclusions and recommendations.
    framework in Victoria, specifications for                                                      Please contact us if you are interested in
                                                  We have never been asked to tailor our
    radiotherapy facilities in the Northern                                                        working with us: mfrommer@med.usyd.
                                                  findings to the client’s needs.
    Territory (none have existed before),                                                
    detailed planning for the ‘harmonisation’
    of human research ethics committee            Project input
    processes throughout Australia, a funded                                                       *Kava, a member of the pepper family, is
                                                  Of course, we often do projects in content
    national plan for health data linkage,                                                         a tropical evergreen shrub with large heart-
                                                  areas that are new to us. In these
    and a widely-used schema for evaluating                                                        shaped leaves and woody stems. Its thick
                                                  projects, we invariably collaborate with
    evidence on public health interventions.                                                       roots are mashed or ground and made into
                                                  one or more content experts, and we have
    Medium-sized things include endorsed                                                           a cold beverage. It has a long history of
                                                  found these partnerships very rewarding.
    national recommendations on the use of                                                         use in the South Pacific.
                                                  Experts such as specialist clinicians are
    intravenous immunoglobulins (a very high-     often keen to contribute to the needs
    cost item in the national consumption of      of public- and private-sector agencies,
    donor blood products), and a systematic       but lack the time and inclination to run a
    review that has been incorporated in
                                                  project and write a report. We tap their
    new national guidelines for melanoma.
                                                  expertise and critical guidance, run the
    Smaller things include specifications for
                                                  project and draft the report with their input.
    the University’s Bioinformatics Centre,                                                           We believe that doing
    implemented governance arrangements                                                               commissioned projects is
    for several complex partnerships among        Project benefits
    health and medical research institutions,     We believe that doing commissioned
                                                                                                      an enormously important
    successful bids for government funding        projects is an enormously important                 function of a university, and
    of research infrastructure and projects,      function of a university, and especially a          especially a school of public
    and recommendations on access to              school of public health. It feeds academic          health. It feeds academic
    and consumption of kava* in Indigenous        rigour into the policies, programs and
    communities.                                                                                      rigour into the policies,
                                                  problems that preoccupy government and
                                                  non-government agencies and the private
                                                                                                      programs and problems that
    Working with clients                          sector. Commissioned research opens                 preoccupy government and
    Our jobs involve crystallising our clients’   a window on the real world. Our clients             non-government agencies and
    questions and needs, working with them to     usually implement our recommendations.              the private sector.
    formulate a plan of inquiry, collecting and   We think this is because we respond to

Bright future for scholarship winner
Sharon Bonython-Ericson, currently completing her Master of Philosophy at the School of Public Health, gets ready
to take on new challenges and travel to the United States as a recipient of a 2008 Fulbright Scholarship.

                                                                     Sharon Bonython-Ericson and Associate Professor Kate Conigrave

       wimming and the resulting countless ear     the Australian American Fulbright Commission.     Scholarship opens doors
       infections led Sharon Bonython-Ericson      Both Sharon and her supervisor (and mentor)       Sharon believes that the Scholarship will
       into the field of public health and on to   Associate Professor Kate Conigrave attended       provide her with new learning and networking
win one of the most competitive education          the dinner held this year at the University of    opportunities. “The scholarship will also give
awards in the country. Sharon has been             Western Australia in Perth. “I am delighted       me the opportunity to be among highly trained
awarded the inaugural Queensland Fulbright         that Sharon’s achievements and academic           specialists to develop new techniques and
Scholarship by the Australian-American             potential have been recognised with this          skills with an international perspective,” she
Fulbright Commission. This scholarship will        award,” said Conigrave. Passionate about her      said.
take her far from her hometown in north            home state of Queensland, her community of
                                                                                                     “Sharon will not only be trained to conduct
Queensland to the United States where she          Yarrabah and the Torres Strait Islands, Sharon
                                                                                                     research to very high academic standards,
will begin a PhD program.                          is delighted about winning the award. “Being
                                                                                                     but she will also have the opportunity to learn
                                                   the successful Torres Strait Islander recipient
                                                                                                     directly from the experiences of First Nations
                                                   of the inaugural Fulbright is a privilege. It
Childhood influence                                                                                  peoples - both community members and
                                                   is an honour to have been selected for this
With her mother having trained as a nurse,                                                           academics- in tackling barriers to Indigenous
                                                   prestigious award; I am humbled by it,” said
Sharon regards it as quite natural that she                                                          health in North America,” said Associate
would pursue a career in health. Sharon                                                              Professor Conigrave. She also believes that
has been passionate about antibiotics and                                                            the experience will further enhance Sharon’s
paediatrics for many years. Her interest stems     Many obstacles                                    ability to bring about health improvements
from her own experience as a child who was         After completing the Graduate Diploma in          within her own community, and to contribute
unable to take medication properly. Such           Indigenous Health Promotion in 2005, Sharon       to improvements in health for Aboriginal and
was the problem that the pharmacist in her         began a Master of Philosophy program at           Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia.
local town of Babinda in north Queensland          the School of Public Health. She is currently
developed special medicines to cater for her.      working on her thesis which explores
It seems he had his work cut out for him,          pharmacist and dispensers experiences in the           Professor Conigrave commenting
mentioning to Sharon’s mother that Sharon          provision of services to paediatric patients in        on Sharon’s accomplishments:
had the worst ears he had ever seen!               two remote communities in North Queensland.             “Being able to tackle
Sharon’s childhood experiences have helped         Associate Professor Conigrave regards
                                                   Sharon’s accomplishments as extraordinary.
                                                                                                          Masters level studies from
her in her current studies. “I feel like I
have first-hand experience of the difficulties     “Being able to tackle Masters level studies            a remote community base
that parents or carers are faced with in           from a remote community base where there               where there are many
administering antibiotics to paediatric            are many challenges that come with remote              challenges that come with
patients,” she said.                               living; her ability to tackle obstacles has
                                                   been an inspiration to me,” she said. Sharon           remote living and her ability
                                                   is equally flattering of her supervisor and            to tackle obstacles has been
Achievements recognised                            attributes a great deal of her success to the          an inspiration to me.”
Sharon received her award on 13 March at the       encouragement and support she received
2008 Fulbright Presentation Dinner hosted by       throughout her study program.

    Upon returning to Australia, Sharon hopes
    to be involved with the Quality Use of
    Medicine (QUM) project in a community in
    north Queensland. She is also interested in
    training young Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islander postgraduate students in the field
    of research in QUM as well as ensuring skill
    transfer to up-and-coming Aboriginal and
    Torres Strait Islander researchers.

    Associate Professor Conigrave is very
    optimistic about Sharon’s future. “You
    take a highly intelligent, Aboriginal or
    Torres Strait Islander researcher, who is
    an excellent communicator, and of course
    already has an in-depth understanding of
    her people, their culture and of obstacles
    to their health; combine that with a quality
    PhD education obtained in both the US and
    Australia; add in the support and training
    provided through the Fulbright Commission
    - the potential is very great indeed.
    Sharon’s success will be great inspiration
    to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islander students and other community
    members to see that it is possible to
    aspire to high standards, and to achieve
    national and international recognition for
    your efforts,” said Associate Professor
    Sharon will travel to America later this year
    following the completion of her Masters
    degree. We wish her all the best with her

                                                    Sharon Bonython-Ericson receives her award at the 2008 Fulbright Presentation
                                                                                Dinner on 13 March.

     Fulbright Facts

     • One the largest and most prestigious educational exchange programs in the world.
     • Established in 1946 through the initiative of U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright and the United States government
     • Since 1949 over 2,500 Australians and 1,800 Americans have been Fulbright Scholars in the respective countries.
     • 24 scholarships were awarded in 2008; each worth $25,000 - $40,000, allowing each scholar to study and research in the U.S. for
       three to twelve months.

     Prominent Australian Fulbright Alumni

       Rt Hon. Sir Zelman Cowen AK, GCMG, GCVO, QC                         Chairman, a Governor of CEDA, Trustee of Sydney Theatre
       (Harvard University Law School 1953); former Governor-General       Company.
       of Australia; Patron of the Australian Fulbright Association.       Mr Frank T Moorhouse AM
       Hon. Sir Daryl M Dawson AC, KBE, CB                                 (Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington DC 1994); Journalist and
       (Yale University 1955); former Justice, High Court of Australia.    novelist. Miles Franklin Award winner.
       Professor Margaret Gardener                                         Emeritus Professor Colin Power AM
       (UC Berkeley 1987); Vice-Chancellor and President of RMIT           (Senior Fublright Scholar, 1975); Founding Chair of Eidos
       University.                                                         (2005-2006) and its predecessor the Institute for Educational
                                                                           Research Policy and Evaluation (2003-2005) and former Deputy
       Hon. Nick Greiner AC                                                Director-General of UNESCO.
       (Harvard 1968); former Premier of New South Wales, company

Eureka – Alex wins prize again!
Natural curiosity, a keenness to tell a story and passion for epidemiology prove a winning combination for
Associate Professor Alexander Barratt. In 2007 she won the $10000 Pfizer Eureka Award for Health and Medical
Research Journalism. It is the second time (in as many years) that she has won the prestigious prize.

      ssociate Professor Barratt was awarded        Dr Lyndal Trevena and
      the Eureka prize for her two-part radio       Dr Kirsten McCaffery to
      series entitled Facing the Evidence. The      establish the Centre for
series, part of ABC Radio National’s Health         Medical Psychology and
Report, was first broadcast in September            Evidence- Based Decision
2006. Facing the Evidence explored how              Making within the university.
research evidence can be used to make               The Centre will be officially
better clinical decisions, how patients can         launched later in 2008.
suffer when this evidence isn’t used by
doctors and what consumers can do about it.         She is also developing
                                                    further programs at
                                                    Radio National and, most
Preventing catastrophes                             recently, organising a
“You may have heard for example about how           new research trial. The
tens of thousands of babies died because            Stretching Trial aims to
of misleading advice to put babies to sleep         find out what the effects
on their tummies, advice given by baby and          of stretching really are,
childcare expert Dr Spock. You may also have
                                                    and whether recreational
heard about heart drugs that doctors were
                                                    athletes actually need to
sure would work well but which actually turned
out to be killing people,” relates Barratt. It is
                                                    stretch before and after
these sorts of catastrophes that she believes       physical exercise. This
can be prevented by evidence-based health           ground-breaking study is a
practice.                                           combined research project
                                                    between the University of
                                                    Sydney and the Norwegian
An extensive overview of the implementation
                                                    Knowledge Centre for the
of evidence-based practice found that 30% to                                         Associate Professor Alexander Barratt is presented
                                                    Health Services.
40% of patients do not receive care according                                        with her award by Dr Bill Ketelbey, Senior Medical
to present scientific evidence. And that 20%                                                     Director, Pfizer Australia.
to 25% of care provided is not needed or is         Call for Stretching Study
potentially harmful. These startling findings       participants
prompted Barratt to draw attention to the                                                         How to get involved
issue of evidence-based medicine in her radio       The Stretching trial is looking for
                                                    volunteers. If you regularly perform          If you are interested in participating in this
                                                    vigorous recreational exercise, and fulfil    study, or would like to find out more about
                                                    some additional criteria (like having an      it, visit the study’s website:
Eureka Award                                        e-mail address and internet access), then
In awarding the Eureka prize, the Australia         you are eligible to participate. People who   Or you can email the research team at
Museum’s panel of experts judged Barratt’s          participate will be randomly allocated to     The University of Sydney at: stretch@
series as having most effectively and               one of two groups. One group will stretch
accurately communicated medical and/or              before and after exercise and the other
health care research to the Australian public.      group will not stretch.

Award presentation
Barratt was presented with her award at the
Australian Museum’s annual Eureka Prizes
Award Dinner. The Dinner is the largest single
annual event in Australia rewarding science
and science communication. The 2007 event
was a star-studded affair with the who’s
who of the Australian science community
in attendance. Compered by Sandra Sully,
Anton Enus and Adam Spencer and assisted
by Simon Reeve, Jennifer Byrne and Amanda
Keller, the dinner was attended by almost
1,000 guests. Barratt was presented with
her award by Dr Bill Ketelbey, Senior Medical
Director, Pfizer Australia.

Future efforts
Not one to rest on her laurels, Barratt is busy
these days helping colleagues Professor             What are the effects of stretching? Participate in the Stretching Study by going to
Phyllis Butow, Professor Martin Tattersall,                          

     Inaugural Public Health Alumni Cocktail Evening

      Phillipa Harvey Sutton, Alistair Harvey Sutton                    Petra Macaskill, Chris Rissel

     Master of International Public Health and Master of             L to R: Les Irwig, Mary-Louise McLaws
    Public Health graduates L to R: Inshira Kaan, Lakshmi
     Waniganayake, Radhika Butala, Henna Aslam, Silke

     L to R: Sally Smith, Charles Fisher, Judy Simpson      L to R: Kirsten McCaffery, Angela Webster, Cath Sefton,
                                                                                   Bev Lloyd

           Geoffrey Berry, John Mandryk
                                                                              Milton Lewis, PH
 L to R: George Repin, Glenn Salkeld, Greg Stewart,            Graduate students of Public Health L to R: Nicole
                  Simon Chapman                               Cockayne, Fiona Horn, Sonia Wutzke, Emma Slaytor

                                                           A Great Evening
                                                           Celebrating 75 years the School of Public Health
                                                           was delighted to hold its inaugural cocktail evening
                                                           for alumni. More than 120 former students and staff
                                                           attended the event on 21 November in the Great Hall.

                                                           Welcoming everyone back to the university, Head
                                                           of School, Professor Glenn Salkeld spoke of past
                                                           achievements and future plans of the School of Public
                                                           Health. The young and the young at heart mixed
                                                           happily together reminiscing about times past whether
                                                           as a student or an academic.
   L to R: Ken Cooke, Robert Cumming, George Repin,        The event was attended by three previous Heads of
                     Bob Cumming                           School: Emeritus Professor Charles Kerr (Director,
                                                           School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine 1985-7),
                                                           Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Berry (Head, Department
                                                           of Public Health 1988-95) and Professor Bruce
                                                           Armstrong (Head, School of Public Health 2001-5).

                                                           The reunion was also attended by Alistair Harvey

      Stay connected                                       Sutton, son of Professor Harvey Sutton, the first
                                                           Director of the School of Public Health. In 1930
                                                           Professor Harvey Sutton was appointed to the Chair
                                                           of Preventive Medicine and appointed Director of the
The Alumni Web Community is your essential                 newly established School of Public Health and Tropical
resource for reconnecting with former classmates           Medicine.
and university life. You can stay in touch with friends
and create a personal profile so that other alumni         During World War II, the School was involved in
                                                           advising and training the armed services on all aspects
know where you are and what you are doing. Plus            of tropical health. Professor Sutton retired from the
you have access to thousands of career networking          university in 1947. “He [Professor Sutton] was, by all
contacts around the world!                                 accounts, greatly admired by generations of graduates
                                                           from the Medical Faculty and the community, “said
                                                           Professor Glenn Salkeld in his welcome speech.
The alumni website allows you to:
•	 Sign	up	for	your	lifelong	University	email	address      “It was a pleasure to see our alumni again and to find
•	 Find	friends	and	maintain	your	profile	on	the	online	   out about what has happened in their lives since they
   directory                                               graduated. We believe that our alumni continue to
•	 Update	your	contact	details	to	stay	informed	           play an important role in the school and look forward
                                                           to future opportunities to welcome them back to the
   about news and events                                   university,” said Professor Salkeld.

Visit:                              To view more photos of this event, please visit

    Qualitative research’s new champion
    Stacy Carter’s appointment as Senior Lecturer brings qualitative research in health into the limelight.

                elief,” says Dr Stacy Carter was her
                first reaction upon hearing of her
                appointment as Senior Lecturer in
    Qualitative Research in Health. “But then once
    it sank in, excitement about the possibilities.”
    Supported by the School of Public Health,
    Faculty of Medicine and the Centre for Values,
    Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM),
    Carter’s position is unique in Australia. “There
    are plenty of researchers and loads of
    students at the university and across the city
    who are working qualitatively, but they are
    often unsupported or isolated,” said Carter.
    “I’m hoping to provide a new focal point
    that will bring together all the expertise and
    enthusiasm that exists for qualitative health
    research in NSW and strengthen networking of
    junior and senior researchers,” she said. “This
    collaboration demonstrates a willingness of
    the group to invest in and develop qualitative
    research methods,” said Professor Glenn
    Carter believes that, internationally, qualitative
    research is at a critical point right now. While
    scholars have been working qualitatively for
    decades - doing fieldwork to understand and
    interpret people’s experience - these traditions
    are just now coming into the mainstream
    of health and medical research. “This new
    position is [therefore] at a kind of vanguard,
    which creates a big responsibility,” said
    Carter. She explains that qualitative knowledge
    is different from and complementary to the
    kinds of knowledge that can be developed
    using numerical data, and it is numerical data
    and biostatistical analysis which she believes
    is best understood in health and medicine.
    Carter regards the need to act as an effective
    advocate for the benefits of qualitative
    understandings as one of the challenges                                         Dr Stacy Carter, Senior Lecturer,
    of her new role. She also hopes to give                                          Qualitative Research in Health
    people an opportunity to see how this kind of
    research can complement the more familiar
    ways of working.                                     “We feel very lucky that Stacy has
                                                         chosen to accept this position as she is,      Qualitative research is at a
    In the shorter term Carter is planning to
                                                         in my view, an extraordinary academic,         critical point right now. While
    develop a substantial teaching program in
    qualitative health research. Her long term goal      researcher and a wonderful colleague,”         scholars have been working
    is for the University of Sydney to become            said Professor Simon Chapman.                  qualitatively for decades - doing
    as renowned for excellence in qualitative            Stacy has a Masters (Honours) and a PhD        fieldwork to understand and
    health research as it is for biostatistics           in public health, as well as a Bachelor of     interpret people’s experience
    and epidemiology. She believes that it is            Applied Science in speech pathology. She       - these traditions are just now
    unusual for a Faculty of Medicine to create          previously worked as a speech pathologist      coming into the mainstream of
    positions dedicated to qualitative research
                                                         in NSW hospitals from 1991 to 1997             health and medical research.
    and describes the move as a visionary
                                                         before moving into research.

Q&A with Lalit Dandona
                                                                                                       As we wrote in a recent commentary
                                                                                                       published in the journal Lancet, this study
                                                                                                       has highlighted the need for a more
                                                                                                       scientifically sound approach to key public
                                                                                                       health issues in India and we hope to
                                                                                                       continue contributing to this effort.

                                                                                                     Q. The IPH team recently won the Dean’s
                                                                                                        award for excellence in the student
                                                                                                        experience. What is the significance of
                                                                                                        this award?

                                                                                                     A. This award is an important recognition
                                                                                                        of the excellent support provided by the
                                                                                                        international public health team over the
                                                                                                        past few years that has enabled students
                                                                                                        from diverse backgrounds to feel that
                                                                                                        they are taken care of during their study
                                                                                                        at the School. This is particularly useful
                                                                                                        as we have students from about 40
                                                                                                        countries in the Masters program. John
                                                                                                        Hall, Mu Li, Giselle Manalo, Paula Tansi
                                                                                                        and Priyanthi Abeyratne have put in special
                                                                                                        effort to achieve this high level of student
                                                                                                        support for which they deserve warm
                                                                                                        congratulations. We see this as a valuable
                                                                                                        and unique component of our teaching

                                                                                                     Q. What do you see as the main
                                                                                                        challenges for the academic team in
       Professor Lalit Dandona, Director of International Public Health at the                          IPH at Sydney?
      School of Public Health and Senior Director of the George Institute India
                                                                                                     A. The two major interrelated issues that we
                                                                                                        need to address are adequate diversity
Q. You have studied Public Health                    to teaching done through the School in             in the research-teaching skills of our
   at the Johns Hopkins University                   international health. Further development          team and benchmarking teaching to the
   Bloomberg School of Public Health,                of these synergies, and also linking with          best global standards. We are working
   a world leader. Can you tell us how               other groups at the University of Sydney           towards having the range of skills in our
   your experiences at Johns Hopkins                 doing work related to international health,        team that are necessary for us to address
   have influenced your approach to                  would be essential for the University              the key international public health issues
                                                     of Sydney to be globally competitive in            comprehensively. The appointments of
   International Public Health (IPH)?
                                                     international public health.                       Michael Dibley last year as Associate
A. My experience at Johns Hopkins at an early                                                           Professor of International Public Health, and
   stage of my career was critical in helping      Q. Your groundbreaking study on the                  this year Heather Jeffery as Professor of
   me understand the key role that new                prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Andhra              International Maternal & Child Health and
   knowledge generation through research and          Pradesh state of India caused quite a             Cynthia Hunter as Lecturer in International
   its application play in improving population       stir. What was the main finding of this           Public Health, have given a boost to
   health. Consequently, research relevant for        study and what are the implications for           our team. We have started a thorough
   less developed settings has been a central         health policy and planning?                       review of the entire content and structure
   plank of the work of my teams, and we                                                                of the Masters program in International
   have constantly attempted to integrate this     A. This population-based study with a sound          Public Health vis-à-vis global standards.
   research with teaching/training and policy-        epidemiological design demonstrated               Consequently, the teaching content of
   related work.                                      that the official HIV burden estimation           the two core units of international public
                                                      method based on sentinel surveillance at          health for the first semester in 2008 has
Q. You have a joint appointment with                  public hospitals was overestimating the           been upgraded, and the same will be done
   the School of Public Health and The                burden 2.5 times as compared with the             for the elective units to be offered in the
   George Institute for International                 actual situation in the population, and we        second semester this year. We aim to put
   Health. What opportunities does that               systematically analysed the reasons for           in place mechanisms that will enable us to
                                                      this. Publication of these findings caused a      upgrade teaching materials on an ongoing
   link provide both staff and students in
                                                      global debate due to the major implications       basis.
                                                      on planning HIV control, including news
A. This offers the opportunity to enhance             reports on BBC World and the journal           Q. What would you like to achieve in the
   cross-fertilisation between the skills at the      Science. Our findings were subsequently           next 12 months? The next 5 years?
   School and The George Institute. We have           confirmed by a nationwide survey, leading
   been able to increase the engagement               to a revision of the official HIV burden       A. The international public health team is
   of the staff and students at the School            estimation method in India and reduction          aiming to agree soon on a strategy for the
   with international health research done            of the official HIV estimate for India by         next 2- and 5-years to further develop our
   through The George Institute, and increase         over half. Our study received the BioMed          work substantially. This strategy would
   The George Institute staff contribution            Central Research Award in Medicine.               aim for our team to be recognised globally

     Lalit Dandona                                                                                          Q&A
       for our research, teaching, and policy-
       related work in international public
       health. In the short-term over the next
       12 months we would like to consolidate
       our team and have an integrated plan of
       work for the team members. In 5-years
       time we should have a solid portfolio
       of research on key international public
       health issues in Asia-Pacific, vibrant
       and continually renewing masters and
       doctoral teaching programs, and wide-
       ranging engagement with health policy in
       less developed countries.

     Q. The people of Australia and India
        have many things in common – one
        of them is a love for cricket. How
        might we forge closer links between
        IPH at Sydney and our counterparts
        in India?
                                                                              International Public Health staff:
     A. The University of Sydney Faculty of
                                                       (L to R) Dr John Hall, Dr Giselle Manalo, Paula Tansi, Priyanthi Abeyrathne,
        Medicine, including the School of                                                 Dr Mu Li
        Public Health, and the George Institute
        for International Health signed a
        Memorandum of Understanding late
        last year with the Indian Council of
        Medical Research, the equivalent of
        NHMRC in Australia, for broad ranging
        collaboration in research, teaching and
        policy. This followed from a visit by
        India’s Health Minister at the University
        of Sydney that we hosted, and it offers
        an excellent opportunity for large-scale
        engagement with Indian colleagues.
        Also, we have close ties with a range of
        academic and policy institutions in India
        through the work of my teams there
        over the past 12 years, which we will
        utilise for enhancing our links in public
        health between the two countries. Late
        last year we established the George
        Institute for International Health – India      Dr Cynthia Hunter, Lecturer,               Associate Professor Michael Dibley,
        in Hyderabad as part of the George               International Public Health                   International Public Health
        Institute at the University of Sydney.
        This presence would greatly facilitate
        our collaborative work in India. And
        of course we would like to tap into the      includes an insight into health care          is an important emerging field. We
        passion for cricket that is common to        service delivery, health workforce,           aim to develop advanced expertise
        Australia and India. For example, the        finance, information systems, drugs &         in health systems in less developed
        recent signing up of many Australian         technologies, and governance, and how         settings within the international public
        players by the newly formed cricket          they can all work together to improve         health group through conducting original
        clubs in India offers an opportunity for     health at the population level. It is         research, utilising this for our teaching,
        us to explore if this can be linked with     being increasingly recognised that the        and working with policy-makers to
        our health work in India.                    understanding of disease distribution and     improve health systems for society-wide
                                                     its determinants through epidemiology         benefits.
     Q. One of your areas of interest is             and social science disciplines of public
        health systems research. Can                 health has to be complemented with          Q. You are involved in the Gates ‘Grand
        you tell us what it is and how               an adequate scientific understanding           Challenges’ initiative. Can you tell
        understanding health systems can             of health systems for equitable and            us what that is and what you think it
        improve global public health.                sustainable improvements in population         will achieve?
                                                     health. High-quality scientific research
     A. Within public health, health systems         on health systems, its components as        A. We are part of an international
        represent the more complex end of            well as how together they can optimally        collaboration, including Harvard, Johns
        the spectrum as understanding them           improve population health, therefore           Hopkins and Washington Universities

Institute expands for better health in India
The George Institute for International Health, affiliated with the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine, recently
launched The George Institute, India in Hyderabad.

      he George Institute, India, launched          Government of India through ICMR, and with
      late last year, will conduct a series of      subsequent partnerships with a range of
      landmark research studies that would          stakeholders in India, we can contribute to
aim to provide answers on how to improve            radical improvements in the lives of Indians,”
health and control major diseases in India in a     said Professor Lalit Dandona, Director of
sustainable manner through a more effective         International Public Health at the School of
health system. This marks a major expansion         Public Health, who also serves as the Senior
of Australian health expertise into the Asia        Director of The George Institute, India. Dr.
Pacific region following the opening of The         S.K. Bhattacharya, Additional Director
George Institute, China in May of last year.        General of ICMR, said, “We are pleased to
The George Institute, India will address major      be partnering with The George Institute and
chronic diseases such as cardiovascular             the University of Sydney on a range of health
                                                                                                          Signing of the Memorandum of
disease and diabetes that are increasing            research issues that are important for India.
                                                                                                          Understanding with the Indian Council of
rapidly, major infectious diseases such as HIV,     The research priorities of the ICMR are in line
                                                                                                          Medical Research (ICMR), November 2007.
major causes of injury such as road traffic         with the national health policy and ICMR works
                                                                                                          L to R: Professor Lalit Dandona, Director
accidents, as well as critical cross-cutting        very closely with national health programmes.
                                                                                                          of International Public Health at the School
health system issues.                               We believe that our collaboration with The            of Public Health and Senior Director of the
                                                    George Institute and the University of Sydney         George Institute India; Professor Robyn
                                                    will be useful in addressing key issues directly      Norton, Principal Director of The George
Institute launch
                                                    relevant to improving the health of India’s           Institute; Dr. S.K. Bhattacharya, Additional
On the occasion of the start of this new            population.”                                          Director General of ICMR; Professor
Institute, the Honourable Union Health &
                                                    Representing the university at the ceremony           Bruce Robinson, Dean of Medicine at the
Family Welfare Minister of India, Dr Anbumani
                                                    were Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean of                University of Sydney; and Professor N.K.
Ramadoss, said in a message, “Good health
                                                    Medicine and Professor Glenn Salkeld, Head            Ganguly, Former Director General of ICMR.
of the people of a nation is a necessary
                                                    of the School of Public Health. Speaking on
requirement for achieving sustainable growth
                                                    the occasion, Professor Robinson said, “The
and success of the country. A better health
                                                    Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney         “We are pleased to be
infrastructure is crucial for helping India reach
                                                    is internationally regarded for its cutting-
its high-growth trajectory in all spheres. We
                                                    edge education and research across the full             partnering with The George
are delighted to welcome The George Institute                                                               Institute and the University
                                                    spectrum of health and medical sciences
as a valuable ally towards our common goal of
making India a healthier nation.”
                                                    including basic, clinical and public health             of Sydney on a range of
                                                    disciplines. The George Institute has been              health research issues that
                                                    affiliated with the University since its inception,
Partnership                                         and this partnership gives us another                   are important for India. The
A Memorandum of Understanding between               opportunity to work closely with The George             research priorities of the ICMR
the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR),      Institute in India to contribute to better health       are in line with the national
                                                    of the people in India.”
The George Institute and the University of                                                                  health policy and ICMR works
Sydney Faculty of Medicine was signed on the        The three partners have expressed interest
                                                    in developing broad ranging collaborations in
                                                                                                            very closely with national health
day The George Institute, India was launched.
“We are proud to be partnering with ICMR to         health/medical research and teaching and its            programmes. We believe
further strengthen our commitment to India.         application to improve population health and            that our collaboration with
We hope that with this partnership with the         health systems in India.                                The George Institute and the
                                                                                                            University of Sydney will be
                                                                                                            useful in addressing key issues
                                                                                                            directly relevant to improving
   in USA, University of Queensland in                 Reliable information on these issues
                                                                                                            the health of India’s population.”
                                                                                                            Dr. S.K. Bhattacharya
   Australia, and institutions in India,               is a prerequisite for informed planning
                                                                                                            Additional Director General of ICMR
   Philippines and Tanzania, that is working           of the health system to address the
   on a multi-country project funded under             major health needs of the population.
   the Gates Grand Challenges to improve               Therefore, improvements in methods
   methods of estimating population                    to estimate mortality rates and causes
                                                                                                            experience the fascinating natural beauty
   mortality rates and causes of death in              of death in less developed countries
                                                                                                            of Australia. However, I think that I need
   less developed countries. Our team is               will contribute in a fundamental manner
                                                                                                            to learn more about the Australian art of
   conducting this research in India in a              towards efforts to improve health in
                                                                                                            relaxing on the weekend!
   population of about 180,000 through the             these countries.
   George Institute for International Health –
   India. This research is important as vital                                                             Q. What is your favourite food?
                                                    Q. When you are not working how do
   registration systems are not adequately             you like to spend your weekend in                  A. I like many different kinds of food.
   developed in many less developed                    Sydney?                                               Some of my most interesting
   settings leading to crude information
                                                                                                             experiences with food include Ethiopian,
   on age-sex specific mortality rates and          A. When time allows, I like to go to the                 Greek, Mexican and South African.
   causes of deaths, especially in adults.             theatre, try different cuisines, and

       Staff spotlight
            he recent appointment of Alison Birt
                                                    What’s On at the School
            and Felicity Barry completes the
            new line-up for the Head of School      Grand Challenges in Health and Medicine. Public Lecture Series 2008
     office team. Alison joins us as the School
     Executive Officer, having spent a decade       Wednesday 21May
     in a similar position at the Broken Hill       Population ageing: What does it mean for the future of health care?
     University Department of Rural Health and
     more recently two years with NSW Health.       5.30-7pm Eastern Avenue Auditorium, The University of Sydney
     Alison’s role will focus on all aspects        Visit for more information
     relating to the smooth running of the          Registration will be opening soon.
     School – from staff recruitment, policy
     development, managing university and           School of Public Health Seminars
     external relations (encompassing PHERP
     and academic title holders), accountability    Thursday 8th May
     and office space. “Now that the line           Editing Your Own Work
     management of administrative staff has         Dr Mark Ragg
     been devolved to academic leaders, the
     Executive Officer can focus on improving       1 - 2pm Marjorie Oldfield Lecture Theatre, Edward Ford Building (A27),
     administrative processes and systems           The University of Sydney
     across the School,” said Professor Glenn       Visit to register
     Felicity Barry joins the SPH as the new        Wednesday 28th May
     Marketing and Communications Officer.          The New Buzz Words: Prevention and Primary Care
     Felicity has extensive experience in
     international marketing of tertiary            5-7pm Bosch Lecture Theatre 2, Bosch 1A (D04), The University of Sydney
     education. Most recently she lived in          Refreshments will be served before and after.
     Sweden working for a consortium of             Visit for more information
     Australian and New Zealand universities.
     She also has experience in marketing
     and recruiting in Japan, North America
     and Europe. “A large part of managing          Staff News
     a diverse School like ours comes back          New Appointments
     to good communication and people               Ian Barnes - Associate Lecturer, Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Felicity Barry - Marketing
     management. Felicity will lead our drive to    Communications Officer, Alison Birt - Executive Officer, Stacy Carter - Senior Lecturer,
     improve communication across the School,       Qualitative Research in Health, Adam Cawley -Project Officer, Michelle Cunich - Health
     engaging our students, research units,         Economics, Joan Henderson - Senior Research Fellow, Cynthia Hunter - Lecturer, International
     affiliates and academic title holders in the   Public Health, Heather Jeffery - Professor, International Maternal & Child Health, Patrick Kelly -
     life of the SPH. We know that our website is   Senior Lecturer, Biostatistics, Rachael Morton - Research Fellow, Joel Negin - Research Fellow,
     a vital part of that communication strategy    School of Public Health & The George Institute, Suzanne Plater - Lecturer, Indigenous Health
     and we intend to reinvigorate the site with    Promotion, Elissa Rau - Research Officer, Nicholas Strobbe - Manager, Learning and Teaching
     a greater focus on the graduate experience     Support Unit (LTSU), Angela Webster - Senior Lecturer, Clinical Epidemiology.
     and news stories,” said Professor Salkeld.
     Maggie Atherton, who oversees the
     School’s website, occupational health and
     safety, now joins the HoS team. “It’s a
     very broad role – by bringing Maggie into
     the HoS team makes it easier to ensure
     that key decisions made by the senior
     management team are put into action,”
     commented Professor Salkeld.
     Nafisa Alam has been the Personal
     Assistant to the Head of School for
     four years. Nafisa manages the HoS
     appointment diary, travel, logs and actions
     all written communication sent to the HoS
     and maintains a comprehensive electronic
     filing system of all correspondence. “I am
     very fortunate to have Nafisa as my PA.
     She is the linchpin of the HoS office –
     bringing the highest level of integrity and
     professionalism to her work,” remarked         L to R: Maggie Atherton, Alison Birt, Nafisa Alam, Felicity Barry, Glenn Salkeld
     Professor Salkeld.

                                                                  For more information
                                                                  School of Public Health                   Produced by the School of Public Health of The
                                                                  Edward Ford Building (A27)                University of Sydney, October 2007. This information
                                                                  NSW 2006 Australia                        is correct at time of publication but information is liable
                                                                  Tel: 61 2 9351 4366                       to change. Please visit for the
                                                                  Tel: 61 2 9036 6247                       latest information on the School of Public Health.
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                                                                   Please send your stories and events for the next issue of The Bridge to
12                                                                 Felicity Barry ( Deadline: 2 June

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