Academy honour for Hunter asthma leader

Oct 20 2017

Professor Peter Gibson

Hunter respiratory research leader Professor Peter Gibson has been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS) in Adelaide.

He joined the induction of 49 new Fellows for demonstrating outstanding leadership in health and medical science in Australia. Their contributions were to a diverse range of clinical and research areas, including chronic diseases, mental health, neuroscience, medical physiology and cancer research.

Professor Peter Gibson is a Hunter New England Health respiratory physician, clinical researcher and Co-Director of the HMRI Viruses, Infections/Immunity, Viruses and Asthma (VIVA) research program, as well as Co-Director of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre (PRC) for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases.

He is also the past President of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Along with his research team, Professor Gibson is working to improve the management of asthma in pregnancy while also developing a new treatment for non-eosinophilic asthma using macrolide antibiotics.

Results of his ‘AMAZES’ study published in leading international journal The Lancet this year showed that severe asthma attacks were reduced by 40 per cent with a low daily dosage of Azithromycin, a macrolide antibiotic. It benefited asthma sufferers whose symptoms were unresponsive to standard preventer medications.

His work was also instrumental in having a drug called Mepolizumab listed on Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme after targeted clinical trials proved its worth in a sub-group of patients. It was purpose-built to block a protein causing inflammation in eosinophilic asthma but at first appeared ineffective.

Professor Gibson said it was a great honour to be elected as an academy member: “This is a society of great clinical scientists in Australia and I look forward to continuing to contribute through research that improves the lives of people in Australia.”

The 2017 AAHMS induction brings the Academy’s Fellowship tally to 321. The ceremony took place during the Academy’s third Annual Scientific Meeting, held at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) in Adelaide. 

“Health and medical research undertaken by the new Fellows of the Academy, and enabled by government and philanthropic funding, will help to ensure quality and equitable health care as we enter the age of precision medicine,” Academy President Professor Frazer said.

The full list of new Fellows, together with their citations on election, are available at http://www.aahms.org/fellowship/