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McDermott to lead health sciences

Picture of Pro Vice Chancellor and Vice President for the Division of Health Sciences Professor Robyn McDermottUniSA welcomes Professor Robyn McDermott, one of Australia’s leading figures in public health, epidemiology and health systems research, to her new role as Pro Vice Chancellor and Vice President for the Division of Health Sciences.

Prof McDermott is a graduate of Sydney and Harvard Universities and comes to UniSA from James Cook University in Queensland, where she was Professor of Public Health Medicine.

She has recently been involved in developing a new chronic diseases strategy for Indigenous communities in far north Queensland, and research into early intervention and management of chronic diseases, particularly diabetes.

At UniSA, Prof McDermott’s management portfolio includes the schools of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, Nursing and Midwifery, and Health Sciences.

“I’m looking forward to working together with the team in the health sciences division, the senior management group, other SA universities and industry to move forward the agenda of improving the health of the people in South Australia,“ she says.

And what does she see as the challenges facing health sciences in higher education? “Of course there is the perennial problem of funding shortfalls compared with the job to be done, however within this context there is still a great deal of innovation which can improve teaching quality and research performance,“ she says. “The challenge is to make the links between people to help this along, and one of my jobs is to facilitate those links.“

Although she was attracted to UniSA for its reputation as an “adaptive and innovative university with sound management and a commitment to equity“, Prof McDermott does admit that moving from the warm climes of Cairns to one of the coolest winters seen in Adelaide for some time has taken some adjustment.

“I realise now that August wasn’t the best time to move here, so I’m looking forward to spring,“ she says. “But despite the cold, I am very much enjoying Adelaide’s rich cultural life, and hope to get out and explore the countryside soon.“