3 Australian respiratory physicians named in international awards


By Geir O'Rourke

25 Aug 2022

Accolades have been going out to Australian respiratory physicians who have been recognised with international awards in the past week.

Associate Professor Daniel Steinfort has been awarded the mid-career gold medal in clinical techniques, imaging and endoscopy from the European Respiratory Society (ERS) awards.

Reputedly the highest international accolade for the field, this reflected the world-leading interventional bronchoscopy service provided by Associate Professor Steinfort and his team at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the ERS said.

The award citation (link here) added that he had authored over 140 journal articles on lung cancer and respiratory disease, with his particular field of expertise being interventional pulmonology.

“He has led multiple international research collaborations in diagnosis & staging of NSCLC and has been principal investigator for multiple first-in-human studies of bronchoscopic ablation techniques for NSCLC and other illnesses.”

“He is a significant contributor to active translational research programs examining the molecular and immunologic aspects of NSCLC and small cell lung cancer.”

Professor Anne Holland, the professor of physiotherapy and head of respiratory research at Monash University and Alfred Health in Melbourne was also recognised with the society’s mid-career gold medal for allied health professionals.

This reflected her work leading a research program into non-drug treatments for patients with chronic lung disease, with recent clinical trials testing novel models of pulmonary rehabilitation to improve access and uptake, including low-cost home-based models and tele-rehabilitation.

“Professor Holland has published over 350 peer reviewed journal articles and her publications have been cited over 20 000 times, including in 28 clinical guidelines for chronic lung disease, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and respiratory management,” the society said.

Meanwhile, another gong went to Professor Peter Wark, who was granted the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology’s (APSR) 2022 Fukuchi Award for his work examining the impact of COVID-19 on patients with asthma.

It came after Newcastle-based clinician and researcher co-authored a paper published in January last year (link here) which found people with asthma were less likely to have a severe version of the coronavirus disease.

Professor Peter Wark

The society said the award recognised outstanding research published in its journal, Respirology, and went on to describe Professor Wark and his team’s work as “significant”.

The research team had obtained airway epithelial cells (AECs) – the entry point for SARS-CoV-2 into the respiratory system – from 145 patients in Newcastle and Perth and analysed them to determine the amount of ACE2 gene expression present in the cells.

This rate was significantly higher in older people and in men, but lower in those with asthma when compared to patients diagnosed with COPD and the control group, they found.


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