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King’s birthday honours for Woolcock research leader

King’s birthday honours for Woolcock research leader

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Woolcock research leader Professor Helen Reddel has been appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2024 King's Birthday Honours List for significant service to respiratory medicine and to medical research.

The award recognises Professor Reddel’s extensive contributions as a respiratory physician and researcher, particularly in the areas of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) management.

Professor Reddel also serves in a number of leadership roles, including Director of the Australian Centre for Airways disease Monitoring (ACAM), Clinical Management Group Research Leader at the Woolcock, Chair of the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) Science Committee, and member of the Australian Asthma Handbook Guidelines Committee.

Her current research focuses on population monitoring and practical management of respiratory conditions in Australia and globally, and on evidence-based strategies to improve the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and COPD.

She was also recently awarded a $2.7 million Investigator Grant from the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for a five-year research program which aims to reduce the global burden of death and disability due to asthma and other respiratory diseases.

According to Professor Reddel, her goal as Chair of GINA is to make guidelines not only evidence-based, but also practical and practice-centred, and to improve communication between patients and health professionals.

“I chose medicine because I wanted to help people, and I was attracted to respiratory medicine by an inspiring mentor, Professor Tony Breslin at Concord Hospital,” she said.

“As a doctor and a researcher, it has been extremely rewarding to take patients’ problems from the clinic, design research studies to solve them, and then implement the findings back into clinical practice to improve patients’ lives.”

Professor Reddel said her proudest achievement in medicine was the fundamental change in asthma management that GINA published in 2019.

“With evidence from studies of a new treatment in almost 10,000 patients with mild asthma, we overturned 50-year-old assumptions that a ‘blue puffer’ should be the main or only treatment for asthma,” she said.

“This award is recognition for what I have achieved as a researcher, and as Chair of the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) Science Committee, to improve asthma outcomes globally.”

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