17 August 2012

Prof Richard HeadProfessor Richard Head, the newly-appointed Director of the University of South Australia’s Sansom Institute for Health Research, says he is looking forward to leading the Institute in an exciting era in science and preventative health.

A pharmacologist with more than 40 years’ experience in research, Professor Head’s most recent appointment was as director of the CSIRO’s Preventative Health Flagship, where he was responsible for driving a national research program focussed on early detection and intervention in chronic diseases.

“The Sansom has a strong track record for applied health research and I’m looking forward to continuing that work with the many talented individuals that make up its membership,” Professor Head says.

“The future in health research is going to be very much around prevention and early intervention, and I think South Australia and the Sansom Institute are ideally positioned to take on a leadership role in that nationally.”

Professor Head, whose achievements have included establishing Australia’s most comprehensive collaborative to tackle Alzheimer’s disease and founding the nation’s largest research grouping in early detection of colorectal cancer, say the preventative health push must address three key functions.  

“We’re seeing an increasing focus on chronic disease and an ageing population, and underpinning our strategies to deal with that are three pillars: firstly boosting our capabilities surrounding early detection of disease; secondly providing effective lifestyle and therapeutic interventions to treat illness before it becomes chronic; and thirdly communicating with policy makers, health professionals and the broader community about what research is teaching us,” he says.

Professor Head takes over from former Sansom Director, Professor Kerin O’Dea, a public health luminary who will continue her association with the Institute as leader of the $8.1 million NHMRC Program Grant – Improving Chronic Disease Outcomes for Indigenous Australians: Causes, Interventions and System Change.

Contact for interview: Professor Richard Head office (08) 8302 1435 mobile: 0417 802 782 

Media contact: Kelly Stone office 8302 0963 mobile 0417 861 832 email Kelly.stone@unisa.edu.au

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