Baird News

Remembering Professor Douglas ‘Doug’ Baird, AM

Doug Baird was too young to die. I know that it is seemly to accept the irreversible fact of death. But in Doug’s case it is especially unacceptable. Sweet was his nature and notable his achievements. But his best years lay ahead. It is by the tragedy of his death that we, his family, friends and colleagues come together today to reflect upon his achievements. We honour and celebrate his life. But, inside, I rail against fate’s cruelty. And most of you will do so with me.

I first met Douglas Baird when we were both under-graduates of this University. As often happened, his outstanding intellectual gifts also propelled him into student politics. Formidable indeed, in those days, was the power of organised under-graduate medicine. I sat with Douglas on the Board of the Sydney University Union. True to his egalitarian ideals and the upbringing by his mother he played a leading role in the amalgamation of the Union and the Women’s Union. In the heady debates of student affairs and the tough factional deals common in those far-off days, we forged a friendship that endured through the decades which followed.

His First Class Honours B Sc (Med) and MB BS never went to his head. Yet he was proud of them. And he was deeply hurt when the University first awarded, and then withdrew, the University Medal from him allegedly for a miscalculation. When serving as Fellow of the Senate elected by the Under-graduates, I became his advocate in that cause, as well as his friend. It was to no avail. But that misfortune never warped Doug Baird’s view of the University. He loved this place. It is entirely fitting that we should meet here to remember him. This was a centrepoint of his life, this Great Hall.

After under-graduate days we kept in touch through a would-be “secret society” of ex-student politicians. For me, Douglas Baird never seemed to change. True, the advent of Phillipa and his children, joys of his life, expanded his personal zone from that provided by his loving parents. True his professional accomplishments enlarged his considerable intellectual life. True also his country honoured him for his services to medicine in Australia and overseas. But his basic simplicity of character and loving-kindness remained steadfastly the same, enduring all.

The Sydney University Medical Journal for 1967 describes him when he was President of the Sydney University Medical Society. The anonymous reviewer in that Journal captured some of the paradoxes of his life. He was “forceful but not inflexible”. A man of peace, he nevertheless worked in Vietnam with the Prince Alfred team at the time the review was written. And after surgery, he gave English lessons to local doctors and nurses. The reviewer commented:

“It is characteristic of Doug Baird to fill his time so completely. It is also characteristic of him to undertake something requiring such zeal.”

Ahead of his time, Douglas Baird was noted, even then, as a frequent traveller to Singapore, New Guinea and Vietnam as part of the development of his medical career. Later he was to add India, Malaysia and other lands of our region. He once told me that the heroic surgery into which he was suddenly thrust at an early age, in Vietnam refined, under almost unendurable pressure, his surgical skills which were to become legendary.

That commentator of nearly thirty years ago recorded that he played bad golf and worse squash and tennis. Wise was Doug Baird to turn to creative gardening. Even at the end, he and Phillipa were planning a new garden together.

The writer of 1967 observed that it had been said of him:

“It wouldn’t be Doug without a panic”.

I read that assessment with initial surprise. But then the memories of our youthful endeavours together came flooding back: his urgent interventions in meetings and his sheer determination, persistence and insistence. His panics were, I suspect, very strictly controlled. When action was needed, this was a most resourceful and talented professional man: swift of action and with a steely determination.

I want to speak here for the thousands and thousands of patients of Douglas Baird. When my mother suffered a heart attack a decade ago I contacted him. Within hours he had seen her, reassured her and within days he had operated upon her. I will never forget how, in the middle of the long operation, he came out to reassure my father and me that all was going well. He was a gentle surgeon. He never lost interest in his patients. He understood their anxieties and the fears of their families. What a model he was for the best of medical practice that our country can produce. It is wrong that he will not be there, living into old age to offer his example, his instruction and his inspiration.

But in the extended lives of the multitude of his patients, including my mother and thousands like her, is a love for him, and a gratitude, which is enduring and which I, their surrogate, express on their behalf.

I hope that somewhere in this University, which he loved and served so well, a permanent corner will be found for a fitting memorial to Douglas Baird. Let it be a place of instruction in the Medical Faculty to remind young students of the very best in kindness and skill that this great University can produce. Let it be in the University Union, as an encouragement to the future leaders of our country who sharpen their talents and develop their confidence in student affairs. Let it be in the great hospital associated with the University where, despite the frustrations, Douglas Baird worked in surgery and health administration at the very highest level. Let it be somewhere in the Senate room where he played his part in the governance of the University. Or perhaps in this Great Hall which thirty years ago first resounded to the applause of his high achievements, the promise of which he was to sustain and fulfil in full measure as long as he lived.

Or let it be in a garden of flowers that remind passers-by of a good man, a loving husband, son and father. A fine citizen. A true teacher. An exemplar of all that is best in a profession of faithful service to others.

So, we rage against the dying of the light that has seen Doug Baird taken from us prematurely, painfully and so unfairly. But we, his friends, his patients, his colleagues, the nurses and other staff who worked with him, his fellow citizens, and his family raise our voices in praise of him and all his works.

For every precious day of life that has been given to my family and to countless others, we say our humble thanks. Through those days of so many people and their loved ones, Doug Baird lives on. We are here to mourn him, to give thanks for his life, to praise his memory and to say that we will never forget him.

Memories of Doug Baird

By John Hill, patient of Prof. Doug Baird and Baird Institute Donor

Like many people my first introduction to Dr Baird was in an ICU ward. I was 37, waiting for a spot on the operation schedule for an emergency bypass operation. My father had passed away at 51 so my family were beside themselves with worry.

Doug Baird came in and without lessening the gravity of the situation gave such an air of obvious competence and composure. As long as I gave up smoking, he would proceed and everything would be OK!

It was Ok, I recovered fully and returned to family, friends and work a new man.

I came across Doug Baird in groups we both attended on the North Shore and was aware of his huge involvement with Sydney University where I am an alumnus.  His passing at such a young age was a huge shock.

I had no idea of what he had achieved in so many areas until his memorial service. The Great Hall at Sydney University holds 600 people. It was packed. We are not talking here about a media celebrity or a politician, just an outstanding man who had affected so many people’s lives. Everyone had a story. The extraordinary eulogy from The Hon Michael Kirby really summed up the loss we all felt.

Many thousands of people now undergo heart surgery safely due to the pioneering work done by Doug Baird

9th Annual James Wadland Night of Hearts 2022

The 9th Annual James Wadland Night of Hearts event was held at Jbiel Cuisine Restaurant in Kareela. This annual event is held by Natalie Zugec on the 2nd of April – the birthday of her late husband, James Wadland.

James died from an aortic aneurysm 9 years ago and Natalie has worked tirelessly, since that day, to raise money for The Baird Institute’s heart research program, so that others don’t have to endure what she has had to. The event raised in excess of $8,000 bringing her total raised over her 9 years of fundraising for the Baird Institute to around $150,000. Such a tremendous effort and we thank Natalie for her dedication and support to our cause.

The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Aortic Team

It is fair to say that a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm is a Great Masquerader. It can destroy any vessel to any organ in the body, with a single stroke. Of course, it can cause aortic rupture and death. This is the reason an ‘aneurysm’ has historically been perceived as the ‘old demon’ in the surgical literature.

The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) is a major referral hospital and is recognised for its excellence and innovation in aortic services.

The RPA aortic surgery program was initially set up by Professor Cliff Hughes, who was one of the first surgeons to do the Bentalls’ procedure in Australia. The aortic program has since been strengthened and expanded under the leadership of Professor Paul Bannon, who is recognized internationally for his surgical expertise in aortic and complex root reconstructive surgery.

Vascular surgeons, Professor Jim May and Dr Jeff White were excellent surgeons and trainers of generations of surgeons in this country, who provided outstanding service at RPAH. They were responsible for the introduction of endovascular surgery in Australia, and both had outstanding international profiles in this discipline.

There has been a tremendous evolution in both cardiac surgery and vascular surgery over the years. There is a greater appreciation now, that when we are talking about treating any complex diseases, we need to get away from defining ourselves by the specialties that we are in, and really direct our focus towards how to treat the patient in the best possible way and to achieve the best patient outcomes.

There has been a trend to subspecialize within both disciplines to focus on “aortic interventions” and the task has fallen on the “Aortic Team” to explore both surgical and endovascular options for our patients in a collegiate multi-disciplinary team (MDT) environment. It really requires this MDT to review these complex cases together. At the MDT meetings, different pathologies such as thoracic or abdominal aortic aneurysms, aortic dissection, aortopathy and graft infection are discussed and various treatment options such as open, hybrid, endovascular and medical therapy are recommended.

With the introduction of endovascular aneurysm repair, using stent grafts has resulted in a major paradigm shift in the field of aortic surgery. It’s true that the technical details and risk profiles vary greatly between the two, but the principles remain the same. A successful aneurysm repair depends on either open replacement or endovascular exclusion, with healthy segments of artery proximal and distal to the repair. In addition, aortic arch and visceral segments and chronic dissections, add layers of technical complexity to aneurysm treatment.

Even though endovascular repair has become the principal way of dealing with most aortic aneurysms, open repair remains an essential treatment in many circumstances. We consider open surgical treatment to be beneficial for those young patients who have good performance status for better long-term outcomes and for treating patients whose aortic disease has genetic causes. Finally, for those patients for whom previous attempts at endovascular repair have failed, surgical approaches to device removal and definitive repair are becoming increasingly necessary.

I had the privilege of learning under the guidance of Professor Aung Oo as his aortic fellow. He is a world-renowned aortic surgeon, particularly known for open thoracoabdominal aortic repair. Prof Oo was originally the head of aortic surgery at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital but he moved to St Bart’s, London to set up a second aortic centre in the UK. One of the most important lessons that I have learned from him is that you can certainly succeed with good colleagues and limited resources, but you cannot succeed with poor colleagues and great resources. You never hear him raise his voice and everyone listens to him attentively when he speaks. He recognises the importance of unified teamwork and that the key is to have a shared vision.

Indeed, a big part of this, is to build a team with a purpose and a shared vision.  For us, this shared vision is to establish a thoraco-abdominal aortic (TAAA) program at RPA.

With that in mind, Dr Raffi Qasabian, Dr Stephen Llewellyn, our senior cardiac anesthetist, and I went to Barts Heart Centre, based at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London, to see how their aortic service operates and functions.  Over the subsequent two years, we also invited Professor Oo to Sydney to guide our RPA Aortic team, as it was very clear to us that the success of a TAAA program is very much dependent on the overall growth of the team.

We have now formed a strong RPA aortic team. The team consists of 2 cardiac surgeons and 3 vascular surgeons, specializing in aortic surgery; 5 cardiac anesthetists/perfusionists, 2 neuromonitoring anesthesiologists, and 2 cardiologists, specializing in aortotopathy and connective tissue disorders. We have monthly aortic MDTs and Marfan clinics. All aortic tissues are stored in the heart bank and we have the largest aortic database with more than 20-year follow up.

Together, not only do we need to train surgeons to master the craft of aortic surgery, but perhaps more importantly, we need to take one step further and train the future generation of surgeons on how to work together throughout their career.

The Aortic Research Group

The Aortic Research Group, led by Professor Richmond Jeremy, undertakes both clinical and laboratory research into genetic causes of thoracic aortic aneurysms. Approximately 50,000 Australians, of all ages, have a genetic aneurysm, which are typically asymptomatic until the potentially fatal event of aortic dissection. Detection of affected individuals, understanding of clinical features and discovery of the cell mechanisms of aneurysm formation are key challenges.

The Aortic Group collaborates with the international Montalcino Aortic Consortium to discover new genes causing aneurysm, describe the clinical risk features and monitor the outcomes after surgical repair. The group also conducts novel laboratory research, underpinned by aortic tissue donated by patients undergoing surgery at RPAH for aortic aneurysms. This material is part of the comprehensive tissue collection of the Sydney Heart Bank. Currently, tissue from over 200 patients has been collected and cryopreserved, including patients with Marfan Syndrome (MFS), bicuspid aortic valve, Loey’s-Dietz syndrome, familial TAAD and atherosclerosis. Additionally, blood samples from affected patients are included. The Bank is continuing to grow in scope and is key resource for new research studies.

One current research focus is a study of how changes in regulators of reading of the DNA code affect severity of aortic disease. We have found that alteration of DNA coding inflammatory genes correlates with the severity of cardiovascular disorders in Marfan syndrome, and this work is being expanded to other genetic aortopathies. Other discoveries include altered expression of miRNA molecules. In human vascular smooth muscle cells, changes to the levels of these miRNAs have an effect on pathways essential to vascular smooth muscle cell function and therefore may be contributing to aneurysm formation.

Currently, large-scale analysis of aortic aneurysm tissue samples is underway to investigate over 4500 proteins and genome-wide RNA expression. These studies will shed light on the mechanisms of aneurysm formation, potentially identify markers of progression of aortic disease and also identify new targets for effective treatment intervention.
The Aortic Group also plays an important role in training the next generation of clinicians and researchers, with 3 PhD and 2 MPhil graduate research students and undergraduate medical students included in the program.

Gastrointestinal complications following cardiac surgery – A retrospective analysis of Medical Records

A Cohort Study of 7900 Patients

This research was presented by Dr. Smith at the General Surgeon’s Australia Annual Scientific Meeting on Friday 8 October 2021. Gastrointestinal (GI) complications following cardiac surgery are known to lead to significant morbidity and mortality. The objective of Dr Smith’s research project was to examine the incidence of these complications and to identify the associated risk factors from patient data in the RPAH cardiothoracic surgery database. The identification of risk factors will allow for the development of a predictive model and early management algorithm.

Read more

Professor Bannon named Top Researcher in His Field

We are very excited to announce that Professor Paul Bannon, Chair of The Baird Institute, has just been named the top researcher in Australia in the field of cardiology by The Australian Newspaper’s 2021 Research Magazine.

This ranking is based on the number of citations for papers published in the top 20 journals in his field, over the past five years.

The Australian’s annual Research magazine acknowledges the talent and dedication of Australia’s researchers. They do this by teaming with talent discovery and research analytics firm, League of Scholars, to comprehensively scan online data about Australia’s research output. This enables them to identify the best researcher and the best research institution in each field, based on the excellence of their research and the impact it has in discovery and scholarship.

The listing is unique because it zeros in on the particular specialties of individual researchers and research institutions, it provides fine-grained detail and recognises countless areas of excellence which would otherwise go unnoticed in the public arena.

Read more at this link:
The Australian’s Research magazine takes a deep dive into research | The Australian

Research Report – The Year In Review

We continue to focus as always on the areas of research that can be expanded so as to support the different surgical programs we have in the Cardiothoracic Department at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.  Our pillars of research are outlined below – Professor Paul Bannon

Clinical Trials:

Our clinical trials have been significantly impacted by COVID but the team have worked extremely hard to try to keep the trials going in both the public and the private institutions.  The key areas are on blood transfusion practices (the continuations of the TRICS 3 trial into TRICS 4) as well as the new CLIP 2 trial on cryopreserved liquid platelet transfusions. These two trials will really add significantly to the international literature and the management of transfusion practices in major cardiac surgery around the world.

Bio-banking Program:

Some of the bio-banking has been impacted by COVID but despite that our strategy in this area has really come to maturity this year with the joining of the aortic biobank and the cardiac muscle biobank.  The biobank is already beginning to generate some basic science projects in the Charles Perkins Centre in the area of heart failure in conjunction with Dr Sean Lal and Dr John O’Sullivan.   We have also been able to continue our support for the vascular surgical department at RPAH by helping them to develop their biobanking strategy.

Broken Heart Program:

We have wrapped up all of our experimental work for the Broken Heart Program and chief researcher, Dr Laurencie Brunel, is preparing to submit her thesis and the third and final publication in that area of work. For this program, predict and model individualised surgical corrective techniques. We then test the model in the research theatre by looking at the structural integrity of the repair This research work sets the scene for what we want to do in this area in the future.  We have also put in an application for a collaboration with Stanford University in the USA and we are waiting to hear the result of this.

Surgical Outcomes Program:

The Centre for Health Record Linkage (CHeReL) links multiple sources of data and maintains a record linkage system that protects patient privacy.  Data linkage transforms routinely collected data into a powerful resource for research and evaluation. Our Clinical Trials team has submitted the data for 12,500 patients to the CHeReL system This data on long-term follow-up and reintervention rates, will give us the answers to our questions on comparative surgical strategies and how well we have done over the years.

Innovative Robotics:

This has had to take a back seat during COVID as the lab in the Charles Perkins Centre has been shut down for a large part of the last 6 months.  The lab has just started to re-open in the last few weeks, as a result, planning for further research in this area is now underway.

The Baird Institute is currently providing support for two research staff members; Cassandra in the biobanking program and Dhairya in the cardiothoracic research office.  These two positions provide an excellent link between the surgical outcomes and the biobanking programs, both of which are inextricably linked. In addition, Dhairya will be assisting with clinical governance research and clinical trials in the Cardiothoracic department.

Finally, we have made a decision to commit to the development of a translational research group in The Charles Perkins Centre and we are currently advertising for a candidate to fill a post-doctoral position.  This person will most likely be a biomedical engineer who will support our higher degree research students across the different areas of interest.

Cardiothoracic Surgical Education Webinar

Aortic Surgery Webinar July 2021

In the past 6 months we have held 2 webinars educating ICU, operating theatre and ward nurses, junior doctors and medical students on various forms of cardiothoracic surgery.

Advanced Robotic Surgery for Lung Cancer:
Presenter: Associate Professor Christopher Cao.

This webinar, presented by RPA Institute of Academic Surgery and The Baird Institute, was designed to give an insight into patients undergoing advanced robotic surgery for lung cancer. The featured topics were: Wedge Resection, Sleeve Resection, Segmentectomy and Lobectomy.

Scholarships and Grants Program – An Interview with Dr Charis Tan

What is your research topic?

My Master of Philosophy research topic is titled: “Optimising Medical and Surgical Treatments of Tricuspid Regurgitation”.  The Tricuspid valve is one of 4 heart valves that helps with blood flow. Tricuspid regurgitation (TR) unfortunately is a common disease/manifestation of the tricuspid valve, caused by various factors (Primary or Secondary) and affects 65-85% of the population.

What is the aim of your research?

The main aim of my research is to understand the impact of current management strategies for Tricuspid regurgitation. Therefore, the first study is to look at patients who have been referred late for TR surgery where they’ve been suffering with right heart failure prior to surgery and understanding their outcomes vs those who have not had right heart failure before surgery. The second paper then investigates patients who have Tricuspid regurgitation due to atrial fibrillation (AF; a type of irregular heart rhythm) and outcomes after these patients have TR surgery as AF is the newest and currently under-studied cause of TR. Lastly a systematic review will be performed to understand the various outcomes of TVR for atrial fibrillation induced TR. Ultimately these studies will help us to optimise the timing of surgical treatment strategies for patients with Tricuspid regurgitation before it is too late.

What is the potential impact of your research?

Unfortunately, the Tricuspid valve has been the most neglected valve to treat until recently where TR has been recognized to be associated with deleterious outcomes. But even despite the acknowledgement of its significance, TR remains undertreated— where patients are rarely referred for surgery or often referred late for surgical intervention, and most end up never making it to surgery in time. Current European and American guidelines describe vague treatment strategies and therefore current medical and surgical strategies for Tricuspid regurgitation (TR) remain understandably controversial due to the limited data available.

Recent studies have also shown that isolated TR is independently associated with high mortality, recommending more attention to diagnosis, grading and optimum treatment strategy. However, these guidelines do not address the fact that these patients are usually at an extreme end of their tricuspid valve disease before being referred for surgery.  There is a possibility that their longevity could be improved if surgery was offered earlier. Therefore, the grand plan for my research is to provide cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons a better understanding of the natural history of Tricuspid regurgitation and to recommend an optimum time for surgery… before they reach a stage where it’s too late and palliation ensues.

How has your scholarship from The Baird Institute helped you?

It has been a true honour to have had the support of The Baird Institute by means of a scholarship throughout my Master of Philosophy candidature. Not only have I managed to present at local and international conferences but also have managed to gain access to statistical software and undergo training courses to use them. Being around masters in this field by way of Professor Paul Bannon, has certainly opened doors to meet other experts in the field and broadened my vision for this project. Additionally, the scholarship has also allowed me to spread the word on this under-recognised area of cardiac surgery in hopes of raising more interests in research for future students and researchers at Uni presentations and conferences that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend.

Once again, I cannot thank The Baird Institute enough for this huge opportunity to learn and develop as a budding researcher. I look forward to sharing the end results once its completed.

2021 Clinical Trials Update

The cardiovascular research team at Royal Prince Alfred hospital consists of Lisa Turner, Carmel Oostveen, Lorna Beattie and we welcome our new recruit, Dhairya Vayada. Dhairya has extensive knowledge in implementing data science principles to a clinical research setting.

2021 has continued to be a challenge for the Research Department, working within pandemic conditions.  However, despite the difficulties, research has continued and we find ourselves managing many interesting projects.  One of our projects, Vision, is completed.  This has been a lengthy process involving the recruitment and data collection of 500 patients.  The purpose of this project was to provide useful information to help predict who may be at risk of having complications following heart surgery. This information will be an invaluable source as the total worldwide recruitment was 15,000.

The tissue bank projects have continued to run throughout this year and we are excited about the addition of patients from Strathfield Private Hospital for participation in these study projects.  Heart failure represents a leading cause of morbidity and mortality both in Australia and Internationally.  Heart failure is the final common clinical pathway for a number of pathological processes including atherosclerotic disease, cardiomyopathies, valvular disease, myocarditis and infection.  The tissue bank provides an invaluable source for research projects to expand our current understanding of heart failure pathophysiology.

Stay in the loop

Subscribe to our Heart to Heart newsletter to keep up with the latest developments in heart and lung research from The Baird Institute.

Professor Richmond W. Jeremy


Professor Richmond Jeremy’s medical and cardiology training were at the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

His clinical research career includes a PhD on coronary physiology and a post doctoral research Fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore before returning to the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

University of Sydney responsibilities have included service as Associate Dean Sydney, Medical School, Head of Central Clinical School and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Campus Infrastructure and Services.

Professional responsibilities have included service as Editor-in-Chief of Heart Lung and Circulation, membership of Boards on National Heart Foundation (NSW), Royal Australasian College of Physicians (Adult Medicine Division) and Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Professor Paul G. Bannon


Professor Paul Bannon is the Chair of The Baird Institute for Applied Heart and Lung Surgical Research, a not-for-profit medical research institute established in 2001, to improve the outcomes and better the lives of those undergoing heart and lung surgery.

He is Head of Department, Cardiothoracic Surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney and holds the Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Bosch Chair of Surgery, University of Sydney. He has performed over 2500 adult cardiac surgical procedures ranging from coronary artery bypass to complex aortic root and arch reconstructions. He is President of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgeons and is the Society representative to the Cardiac Surgery National Database. He is the Co-Chair of the Institute of Academic Surgery at RPAH where he also oversees the robotic surgical program. He heads the National MBS Taskforce Review for Cardiac Surgery and has held various positions in the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Professor Bannon’s teaching responsibilities are currently to all years of the Graduate Medical Program at Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney. He supervises local and international Doctorate, Masters and Honours students as well as international elective students. He is the Co Editor-in-Chief of The Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery and a Director of the CORE Group for International Collaborative Research. Professor Bannon has published widely in books, journals and conference proceedings on cardiothoracic surgery, basic science and evidence based medicine.

He has a particular passion for translational research in the areas of congenital aortic and mitral valve disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, biomaterials and biocompatibility, limitation of blood product usage in cardiac surgery, the inflammatory response to bypass and the development of academic surgical careers. He is a current Chief Investigator on NHMRC and NHF grants for biomaterials and congenital heart disease research as well as a current NHMRC CRE grant on mechanical circulatory support. His role in the CRE is to produce NHMRC Clinical Practice Guidelines and measure their dissemination, adoption and outcomes. He personally oversees more than $500,000 worth of research funding annually. His Department currently runs 16 clinical trials amongst many other laboratory and clinically based projects.

Ms. Michelle Sloane


Michelle’s background is in psychology and human resources working for many years in senior executive positions at Westpac, IBM and Unilever. Twenty years ago she established a human resources management consulting practice, Diversity Management, and led that organisation for 16 years. Michelle has worked extensively in the areas of change management, organisational analysis and design, human resource management, program management, stakeholder engagement as well as leadership development and training.

Michelle has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Technology, a Master of Arts (Psychology) from the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales. In addition Michelle is a Graduate of the Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Michelle has also been a Councillor for the City of Willoughby in Sydney. During her time as Councillor and Deputy Mayor, she has worked tirelessly with the local community advocating across a range of local and state-wide issues. Her interest in local government was developed over many years as a very active volunteer in her local community.

Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite


Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite, BA, MIR (Hons), MBA, DipLR, PhD, FIML, FCHSM, FFPHRCP (UK), FAcSS (UK), Hon FRACMA, FAHMS is Founding Director, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Director, Centre for Healthcare Resilience and Implementation Science, and Professor of Health Systems Research, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University. His research examines the changing nature of health systems, attracting funding of more than AUD$131 million (EUR€81.8 million, GBP£70.8 million).

He has contributed over 470 peer-reviewed publications presented at international and national conferences on more than 915 occasions, including 97 keynote addresses. His research appears in journals such as JAMA, British Medical Journal, The Lancet, BMC Medicine, BMJ Quality & Safety, and International Journal for Quality in Health Care. He has received numerous national and international awards for his teaching and research.

He is interested in the Anthropocene and the impact of human activity on human and species’ health, population and climate. He blogs at

Further details are available at his Wikipedia entry:

Professor Clifford F. Hughes


Professor Cliff Hughes is President of the International Society for Quality in Health Care. Until March 2015 he was the Chief Executive Officer of the Clinical Excellence Commission, a statutory health corporation established in 2004 to build capacity and design programs to promote and support improvement in quality and safety for health services across NSW. He has been chairman or member of numerous Australian state and federal committees associated with quality, safety and research in clinical practice for health care services. He has held various positions in the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, including Senior Examiner in Cardiothoracic Surgery and member of the College Council. In November 2015 the College bestowed upon him the highest award given to a Fellow in his lifetime, the Sir Hugh Devine Medal. He has received awards for his national and international work including an Alumni Award from the University of NSW. He has led five medical teams to China and has performed cardiac surgery in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh. In 1998, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in recognition of his contributions and “service to cardiac surgery, international relationships and the community”. In June 2014, the University of NSW conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Science, its peak academic award.

Ms. Joanne Wade


Joanne Wade has been a plaintiff lawyer since her admission to the Supreme Court of NSW in 1996 and has worked in asbestos litigation for well over 18 years. Joanne is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law and prides herself on her communication with her clients and, on many occasions, her clients’ families. She understands the importance and need to handle all her cases with the utmost diligence and compassion. Joanne has acted for hundreds of people suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and asbestos related pleural disease. Her clients are everyday people who have worked hard all their lives and deserve justice. Joanne acted for Steven Dunning in his claim against BHP Billiton Limited in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW (Dunning vBHP Billiton Limited [2014] NSWDDT 3). Mr Dunning suffered from malignant pleural mesothelioma and in a landmark decision; the court awarded Mr Dunning the highest amount for damages for pain and suffering in NSW. Joanne went on to represent Mr Dunning in the Appeal before the NSW Court ofAppeal where BHP’s appeal was unanimously dismissed (BHPBilliton Limited v Dunning [2015] NSWCA 55). Joanne has also successfully acted for the late Bevan McGrath in his claim against Allianz Australia Insurance Limited, for his condition of asbestos related pleural disease and ensured that case was resolved on a provisional damages basis. Mr McGrath went on to develop mesothelioma, one of only a small number of cases where he then brought a second claim for further damages because his first claim was resolved on a provisional basis. Joanne successfully acted for Mr McGrath in both his claims and the late Mr McGrath successfully received further damages in a judgment by the court (McGrath v Allianz AustraliaInsurance Limited [2011] NSWDDT). The judgement was upheld on appeal (Allianz Australia Insurance Limited v McGrath [2011]NSWCA 153).

“It is with great privilege to work with people suffering from asbestos illnesses, and the greatest satisfaction formed is securing a result for those people to help ease their suffering, and to know their families will be looked after.”Joanne takes great pride in the work Slater and Gordon have undertaken in representing victims of asbestos disease, unions and asbestos support groups, including the work of Ken Fowlie in 2004 who acted for the ACTU and asbestos support groups in negotiations with James Hardie to secure an agreement which will ensure current and future victims of asbestos –related diseases would be fully compensated for years to come.Joanne is a passionate advocate and one thing that separatesJoanne from other lawyers is perspective, with her own father being exposed to asbestos working at Cockatoo IslandDockyard, she is in the unique position of seeing it from both angles.“My clients are generally people who have worked hard all their lives, and are lovely people who deserve justice. I am glad to fight for that justice and to make a difference to their lives.”


  • Asbestos Claims
  • Dust Disease Board Appeals
  • Dust Diseases Claims
  • Compensation Claims

Career History

  • Slater and Gordon since 2008 (practice group leader)
  • 2000-2007 Watkins Tapsell (partner)
  • 1996-2000 Watkins Tapsell (lawyer)
  • 1992-1995 NSW Crown Solicitors Office (paralegal clerk)

Mr. Shaun Clyne

MA LLM (Syd)

Shaun is a corporate lawyer based in Sydney. He is the Australian Head of the Mergers & Acquisitions practice. He regularly advises on a wide range of corporate and securities law issues for public listed companies including takeovers, schemes of arrangement and capital raisings. He advises on Australian Stock Exchange compliance matters and regularly acts for both bidders and targets in connection with takeover bids and schemes of arrangement (hostile and friendly) for ASX-listed companies.

A leading practitioner in equity capital markets, Shaun has also advised numerous companies on their initial public offerings and capital raisings (rights issues, AREO’s, placements, employee share and options plans).

Shaun has presented at a variety of seminars and conferences and published several papers in his areas of specialisation.

His areas of expertise are mergers and acquisitions, corporate advisory and capital markets.

Professor Paul Bannon

Professor Paul Bannon is an adult cardiothoracic surgeon of international standing with clinical appointments at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Concord and Strathfield Private Hospital. At Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Professor Bannon is the Head of Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Co-Chair of the Institute for Academic Surgery, Director of the Robotic Training Institute and the current President of the Medical Officers Association. At the University of Sydney, he holds the inaugural Professorial Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Bosch Chair of Surgery. He is also the current Head of the Discipline of Surgery for the Sydney Medical School and the Academic Director of the newly opened Translational Research Facility or Hybrid Theatre at the Charles Perkins Centre. He is the Chair of The Baird Institute for Applied Heart and Lung Surgical Research. Professionally he is the Past President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons (ANZSCTS) and in that role serves on the steering Committee for the ANZSCTS National Cardiac Surgical Database, the National TAVI Accreditation Committee and is the Cardiac Surgical Chair of the Medical Benefits Schedule review program. For the Ministry of Health NSW he has been in the role of Co-Chair of the Cardiac Devices Committee for the Agency of Clinical Innovation.

Professor Bannon graduated from the University of Sydney in 1987, completed a PhD from the same institution in 1998 and was awarded a FRACS (CTh) in 1998. He has a particular passion for translational research in the areas of congenital aortic and mitral valve disease, biomaterials and biocompatibility, limitation of blood product usage in cardiac surgery, the inflammatory response to bypass and the development of academic surgical careers. He has authored or co-authored more than 120 scientific papers, published in peer-reviewed journals. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery, a Medline listed multimedia journal of cardiothoracic surgery. Professor Bannon has a reputation as the ‘surgeons surgeon’ and has particular expertise in surgery of the aortic root and arch, high-risk re-do surgery, total-arterial coronary artery bypass grafting and surgery for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Dr Sean Lal

BMedSci(Hons), MBBS(Hons), MPhil(Med), PhD(Med), FRACP

Dr Sean Lal is an Academic in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney and a Consultant Cardiologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, sub-specialising in heart failure and cardiac MRI. He is also the Chair of the Heart Failure Council for the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Sean completed his undergraduate degree in Medical Science with first class honours at the University of Sydney, receiving full academic scholarship. He pursued his graduate Medical Degree (MBBS) and a Master of Medicine by research (MPhil) at the University of Sydney, where he was awarded the Dean’s Scholarship, the Medical Foundation Scholarship and the University of Sydney Bercovici Medal. As a medical doctor, Sean completed all of his general and specialty clinical training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. During his cardiology training, he was awarded a National Churchill Fellowship to study mechanisms of cardiac regeneration at Harvard Medical School.

Sean has a clinical and research interest in heart failure. For his PhD in this field, he was awarded a combined National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and National Heart Foundation (NHF) Scholarship, as well as the NHMRC and Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) scholarship for research excellence.

He was also awarded a Commonwealth Endeavour Postgraduate Fellowship to Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he undertook proof of concept studies demonstrating the intrinsic regenerative capacity of the human heart following myocardial infarction; whilst also gaining clinical experience in acute heart failure management in the cardiac ICU at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Sean is the Director of the Sydney Heart Bank at the University of Sydney, which is one of the largest biorepositories of cryopreserved human heart tissue in the world. He is the Head of the Cardiac Research Laboratory in the School of Medical Sciences at the Charles Perkins Centre, which focuses on basic science and translational research into human heart failure.

Dr Matthew Bayfield

Dr Matthew Bayfield is an extremely experienced cardiothoracic surgeon with a broad range of skills and special interests within his field. He has performed more than 6000 heart and lung procedures. Dr Bayfield has hospital appointments at Strathfield Private Hospital, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Concord Hospital. His surgical interests include:

  • Coronary artery surgery: Dr Bayfield is one of Australia’s busiest coronary surgeons; with particular focus on minimal access incisions, and use of in-situ bilateral internal mammary artery grafts for enhanced longevity of the benefit of coronary revascularization.
  • Aortic root and arch surgery: Dr Bayfield has been performing aortic root and arch surgery since 1995, when he completed a Cardiovascular Fellowship at the University of Virginia in the USA. His focus is on o minimal access incisions, short cardiopulmonary bypass times, and for arch surgery antegrade cerebral perfusion with cerebral oxygen saturation monitoring.
  • Surgery for emphysema / CAL: Dr Bayfield was trained in open lung reduction surgery whilst doing a fellowship at the University of Virginia in 1995. Since that time he has developed thoracoscopic techniques for the procedure, and since 2003 been an implanter of endobronchial valves as a minimally invasive alternative to surgery. With over 100 endobronchial valve case experience, and long term follow-up of these patients, he is one of Australia’s most experienced endobronchial valve proceduralist.
  • Correction of pectus defects: Dr Bayfield has a special interest in correction of both pectus and carinatum defects, with techniques including implantation of Nuss bar under video-assisted control, and open radical sternochondroplasty.Lung cancer surgery: Dr Bayfield has been in surgical partnershio with Professor Brian McCaughan since 1996, and was trained by him as a registrar. Prof McCaughan is Australia’s most experienced and prolific lung cancer surgeon, has published widely on many aspects of its treatment, and has been awarded Medal of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to health in respect to his work on malignant mesothelioma.
  • Pacemaker and defibrillator implantation: Dr Bayfield was trained in device implantation as a young surgeon in the 1980’s and has developed skills to ensure that a device can be safely and reliably implanted even in the most difficult case with minimal risk. He was trained in cardiac resynchronzation therapy techniques at the introduction of that technology. He has regular pacemaker and defibrillator implantation lists at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Strathfield Private Hospital, and Concord Hospital.
  • Surgical treatment for ischaemic cardiomyopathy: Dr Bayfield trained in heart and lung transplantation whilst at the University of Virginia. With this skill base he has been able to develop a multi-faceted approach to treat patients whose hearts have been damaged by coronary artery disease (heart attack). These therapies include coronary artery bypass, mitral valve repair, and implantation of CRT defibrillators.

Dr Mike Byrom

Dr Michael Byrom is a modern, innovative cardiothoracic surgeon with training and experience in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Particular areas of expertise include:

  • Truly minimally-invasive surgery to the aortic valve that avoids complete division of the breast bone (hemi-sternotomy, right anterior mini-thoracotomy); allowing faster recovery and return to normal activities
  • Mitral valve repair with excellent repair rates and outcomes – resulting from diverse training in France, Italy, and the United Kingdom
  • Avoidance of the need for anticoagulation through valve selection, valve repair, and surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation
  • Minimally-invasive lung resection, avoiding a large thoracotomy wound and enabling faster recovery and return to normal activities with reduced pain and discomfort
  • Sternal and rib titanium plate fixation of chronic non-united fractures
  • Performing these procedures while minimising risk of complications, allowing Dr Byrom to achieve world-class results for his patients

Associate Professor Chris Cao

After completing his medical degree at the University of New South Wales with First Class Honours, Christopher attended his pre-internship at Yale University, USA. He scored 99/99 for his United States Medical Licensing Exam, and completed his Cardiothoracic surgical training in Sydney. Concurrently, Christopher completed his PhD degree with Sydney University, focusing on the surgical management of lung and pleural diseases.

After completing his surgical training with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Christopher was invited to a Fellowship at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York City, one of the largest cancer centres in the world. This was followed by a Fellowship in New York University, where he was asked to join the Faculty in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. His fellowship was focused on robotic and minimally invasive thoracic surgery, treating lung cancers, mediastinal tumours, mesothelioma, and other lung-related diseases. During his 18-month Fellowship at MSKCC and NYU, Christopher was fortunate to work with some of the leading international surgeons, gaining invaluable clinical and academic experience.

With over 100 publications in international peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, A/Prof Cao has a keen interest in thoracic surgery, particularly the treatment of lung cancers through minimally invasive surgery. He has made more than 50 presentations in international meetings as a Faculty Member in Paris, New York, Edinburgh, Taipei, Sydney, and Guangzhou. Christopher has personally supervised students and residents from Sydney University, University of New South Wales, Cornell University and New York University.

He is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, and works as a Consultant Surgeon at Lifehouse, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Concord Hospital, Sydney Adventist Hospital, and Macquarie University Hospital.

Professor Tristan Yan

Dr Tristan Yan is the Head of Department of Thoracic Surgery at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. Professor Yan graduated from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) with Bachelor of Science (Medicine), Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. He also completed three postgraduate higher degrees, Master of Surgery (USyd), Doctor of Medicine (UNSW) and Doctor of Philosophy (UNSW). He was trained at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney and then obtained Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Following advanced specialty fellowships in the United States, England, Scotland and Germany, he specializes in minimally invasive cardiovascular surgery, and minimally invasive thoracic surgery.

Professor Tristan Yan is dedicated to surgical innovations. He applies the latest pioneering techniques to minimize surgical trauma and access sites and thus achieves a more rapid and comfortable recovery for his patients. He first completed his general surgical fellowship with Paul Sugarbaker in the United States, one of the most prominent surgeons in the world. He was then closely trained by the pioneer of Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery, Mr. William Walker, in Edinburgh, where he mastered the technical expertise of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) to perform complex lung resections, such as lobectomy and segmentectomy.

Dr Benjamin Robinson

Mr Benjamin Robinson is an adult cardiothoracic surgeon with a long association with The Baird Institute. Whilst a medical student, he completed honours research with the Baird on outcomes in early-stage non-small cell lung cancer, under the supervision of Professor Brian McCaughan. He was awarded a Baird Institute Fellowship for this work. He subsequently trained in cardiothoracic surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and was the inaugural Baird Institute – Stanford University exchange scholar. Mr Robinson later completed a cardiac surgery clinical fellowship at Bart’s Heart Centre in London. He then worked as a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin, before returning to Sydney to take up appointments at Royal Prince Alfred, Concord Repatriation General and Strathfield Private Hospitals.

Mr Robinson has experience in the spectrum of adult cardiac surgery, including coronary, valvular and aortic disease, as well as in general thoracic surgery. He has specific clinical interest in minimal access aortic valve surgery, arterial coronary grafting and aortic surgery. He has completed postgraduate study at Cambridge University and has academic interests in surgical outcomes research and epidemiology.

Dr Brian Plunkett

This content is currently being updated.