7 March 2016
All through Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, remarkable women are caring for our patients, running operating theatres and busy wards, sitting on our board and leading our cancer hospital. They are also studying printing 3D bone replacements, drug resistance to cancer treatments, clinical trial outcomes and finding new ways to predict cancer prognosis.
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is proud to celebrate International Women’s Day by acknowledging the extraordinary women who lead and play a role in this cancer hospital. Join us in celebrating the exceptional work they do:
Four of our board members are prominent Sydney women who are dedicating their time and energy to helping Chris O’Brien Lifehouse fulfil its vision – to transform cancer treatment for Australian cancer patients through an environment thriving on discovery, research and uncompromising care.
Our Chief Executive, Eileen Hannagan who started her career as a nurse, has spent the past 15 years in executive management, including as executive director of major hospitals.
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Director of Research, Lisa Horvath, heads a thriving programme of nearly 150 clinical trials and research projects, while overseeing her busy clinical oncology practice and carrying out her own prostate cancer, lung and colorectal cancer research that has resulted in more than 40 published papers.
VectorLAB Director Natalka Suchowerska and a talented team have brought together medicine, physics, biology and chemistry to solve urgent problems in cancer in laboratories based in the Radiation Oncology department at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. She and the team are currently experimenting with printing 3D body parts to replace bones destroyed by cancer, developing ways in which nanoparticles can combine radiation and chemotherapy for a bigger therapeutic effect, customising radiation treatments for subtypes of breast cancer that are hard to treat, and using fibre optics to bring better dose measurement to radiation therapy.
Senior Medical Physicist Elizabeth Claridge Mackonis is one of a team of female physicists who are an integral part of the Radiation Oncology department at Lifehouse, working on introducing new technology and running computer predictions of radiation doses to ensure patients receive the most effective and targeted treatments.
Our Director of Nursing, Catherine Lambert, heads about 400 mostly female nurses, including Nurse Unit Managers who run busy teams looking after cancer patients with complex and advanced care needs.
Our operating theatres are run by a dedicated team that includes Rebecca Lever and Kendell Bryant. As the Scrub Scout Nurse Unit Manager in Theatres Rebecca was essential in setting up the instrumentation for theatres when we opened for inpatients in 2015, and on a day to day basis manages the logistics of our theatres, working with an integrated team of surgeons, nurses, anaesthetists and theatre service staff. Kendell is a Clinical Nurse Specialist and Evening Floor Manager of our theatres, and was integral to setting up the robotic surgery programme here at Lifehouse which is now changing patients’ lives with minimally invasive surgery.
Clinical Trials Manager Christine Merlino oversees more than 40 current clinical trials, many of which change the treatment paradigm for our patients. She is also responsible for our cryotank programme, which stores tissue samples that have enabled Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to begin flagship programmes such as the Glycomics research project that joins together flu virus experts with cancer experts.
Our trailblazing female surgeons are leaders in their fields and train other Australian doctors in complex techniques.
Breast cancer surgeon Cindy Mak is a consultant surgeon at BreastScreen NSW, is a member of the Australasian Society for Breast Disease, the ANZ Breast Cancer Trials Group, the Australian Medical Association, is an honorary scientific officer at The Garvan Institute and sits on the oncoplastic subcommittee of Breast SurgANZ, a committee dedicated to supporting breast surgeons with an oncoplastic surgery interest.
Head and Neck and Plastic Surgeon Sydney Ch’ng, who is also a leading surgical researcher, is one of only a few surgeons fully trained in both plastic surgery and head and neck surgery. Her current work includes cancer surgery (head and neck cancer, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers), reconstructive surgery, cosmetic surgery, and academic work as Associate Professor of Surgery at The University of Sydney.
Dr Cherry Koh, a colorectal surgeon at Chris O`Brien Lifehouse, is also the Colorectal Research lead for the Department of Colorectal Surgery at the Institute of Academic Surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and is actively involved with supporting research and the supervision of research students.
Dr Payal Saxena holds a conjoint position at Johns Hopkins University and conducts international training demonstrations in gastroenterological procedures. She has numerous published works, presents at national and international conferences, and is an editorial reviewer for field publications such as Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and Digestive Diseases and Sciences. As well as postgraduate teaching and her research projects, she is a member of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia, American Gastroenterology Association, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and Natural Orifice Surgery Consortium for Assessment and Research (NOSCAR).