Celebrating a new year and new era of leadership

Professors Mike McGuckin and Alicia Spittle have both been formally appointed in their new roles; Professor McGuckin as Deputy Dean and Professor Spittle as the Associate Dean (Research).

While they both served their roles in an interim capacity, they have been recognised for their commitment to the values and aspirations of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and will continue to work with members of the Executive Team.

Professor McGuckin, originally from Queensland, brought with him an exemplary record of research, an enquiring mind and an enviable publication record. A quick look at his ‘Find an Expert” page reveals his participation in a range of Boards, committees and panels.

While these achievements tell us much about him, the essence of the man is best expressed in his explanation as to why he chose a medical and research path.

“I undertook a career in medical research because it allowed me to explore the fascinating challenges of understanding how biology works whilst making a contribution to a world wide effort to improve the human condition. My research has evolved from my original interests in ovarian cancer to now involve a broad spectrum of work in cancer, inflammatory disease and diabetes. I am now committed to providing leadership in medical research to help advance the impact of health research and nurture the careers of the young researchers who will mould future health.”

Professor McGuckin is committed to providing opportunities for academic and personal growth and over a very productive career, he continues to nurture new talent by sharing his distinctive insights and skills. His appointment to the role of Deputy Dean will give the faculty great strength as he personally promotes high-quality research and teaching through leadership and partnerships.

Professor Alicia Spittle, Associate Dean Research (ADR), has been a part of the University of Melbourne research story for over 20 years. In that time, she has received over $22 million in grant funding and has authored over 180 publications.

She started her postgraduate study at the University and is now using that experience, reflection and knowledge to steer the faculty into the next phase of research growth.

As a physiotherapist, clinician researcher and a current National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Career Development Fellow, within the Melbourne School of Health Sciences (MSHS), Professor Spittle encourages team-based approaches to solving complex problems.

Like many others, she was drawn to a career in health as she has a brother with autism who is non-verbal. Early on in her career as a physiotherapist, she realised there was a great deal not known about supporting individuals and their families with disabilities to optimise health outcomes.

“To improve outcomes, we need health and medical research to identify the diverse range of factors that contribute to health and wellbeing, along with testing interventions to enhance outcomes,” she said.

Professor Spittle will continue with her own research that focuses on very early diagnosis of neurodevelopmental impairments in children born preterm, particularly cerebral palsy. She has worked in multi-disciplinary teams to enhance knowledge that can be collated and disseminated.

As well as a busy workload, she has been a strong campaigner for advancing the cause of women in medical research and recognises that patients and their families are important resources for ideas as well as sources to guide quality improvement when delivering care.

We congratulate both Professors who embody the meaning and focus of our faculty.