Scientists enticed back to Australia to tackle major health challenges

CSIRO and the Queensland Government are attracting leading overseas-based Australian scientists to return to work on major health challenges at the e-health Research Centre in Brisbane.

Gary Morgan, CEO of the Centre, today announced the appointment of two more distinguished Australian scientists, Dr David Hansen, a leader in the fast growing field of bioinformatics which deals with the management and analysis of vast biological data collections, and Dr Craig Kennedy, an expert in the implementation of e-health technologies.

"The e-Health Centre's research is about applying information and communication technologies (ICT) to national health challenges," says Mr Morgan.

"We've been very successful at attracting some fantastically talented people to the Centre. We have also successfully bid to host the prestigious international Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention (MICCAI) conference in 2007," says Mr Morgan.

"This international conference on medical image computing, computer-assisted intervention and medical robotics will bring many of the world's leading clinicians, computer scientists and other researchers to Brisbane."

Queensland Minister for State Development and Innovation, Tony McGrady welcomed the appointments and the successful bid to host the MICCAI conference.

"I'm delighted at the e-Health Research Centre's success in attracting these two talented researchers home to Queensland," Mr McGrady said.

"This is proof once again that the Queensland Government's Smart State Strategy is working. Queensland is quickly becoming a location of choice for people wanting both scientific careers and great lifestyle opportunities.

"It's particularly timely that these appointments are being announced this week, with thousands of researchers descending on Brisbane for AusBiotech 2004 this week."

The Minister said AusBiotech is Australia's largest biotechnology business meeting and would feature a key session on bioinformatics, a main focus of Dr Hansen's research.

Dr David Hansen was educated at the University of Queensland and the Australian National University, and has returned from the UK where he was head of development at LION bioscience. David led research and development of the company's genomic data integration tools.

David will lead Health Data Integration research at the e Health Research Centre, which will focus on making health data more available for research while preserving patient privacy. Initially this will involve working with Queensland Health to integrate patient cancer data and provide more information on treatment to clinicians and researchers.

"Better access to population health data is vital for research into a host of diseases," says Dr Hansen. "Our work at the Centre will deliver this access without compromising the equally important principles of patient confidentiality."

Dr Craig Kennedy obtained his PhD from the University of Queensland and has been involved in the implementation of e-health technologies since 1995 when he was a manager of the Queensland Telemedicine Network, which introduced tele-psychiatry in Queensland. Most recently he has been a Senior Research Fellow at University College and Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, where he has been researching and implementing e-health technologies to support eye practitioners in Ghana, Tanzania, The Gambia, and South Africa.

"Queensland is uniquely placed to benefit from advances in telemedicine," says Dr Kennedy. "The work we do in improving service delivery to remote communities at the e Health Research Centre will be applicable across Australia and the world."

The e-Health Research Centre, a $15 million joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland Government, is at the forefront of e-health innovation in Australia and globally, and will revolutionise the way Queensland's health sector delivers services in the future.

Its world-class researchers conduct trials on e-health solutions in Queensland and undertake R&D into critical health conditions such as cancer and stroke, with the aim of building knowledge on how the next generation of information and communication technologies can improve the delivery of patient centred health care.

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