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Skin cancer paper wins coveted Louis Barnett Prize

15 September 2005

Research paper outlining possible breakthrough against skin cancer wins coveted Louis Barnett Prize

Wellington doctor Sydney Ch’ng won the prestigious Louis Barnett Prize yesterday following presentation of her paper Mast Cells and Cutaneous Malignancies at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Scientific Meeting in Hamilton.

The Louis Barnett Prize encouraging advanced academic research from young surgeons is named after the founder and first president of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (New Zealand).

Dr Ch’ng, who has taken time out from her clinical practice to undertake full-time research and is currently enrolled as a PhD student with the University of Otago, was involved in a collaborative research project on skin cancers at Hutt Hospital and both Wellington and Christchurch Schools of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Involved in the research was Dr Swee Tan, Dr Paul Davis, Dr Lan Yuan and Dr Michael Sullivan. Dr Ch’ng is also working toward a Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Her paper was recently published in the internationally acclaimed medical journal Modern Pathology.

New Zealand and Australia have the highest incidence of skin cancers in the world, exceeding that of all other cancers combined several times over. Dr Ch’ng’s study shows that mast cells, large, multifunctional cells, present in high numbers in the upper layers of the skin could provide a desperately needed breakthrough in the battle against skin cancer.

The College of Surgeon’s annual scientific meeting this week featured a number of groundbreaking papers including a technical review of last year’s 22-hour long operation separating of conjoined twins, the first-ever successful operation of this sort in New Zealand. Three other papers presented at the meeting were finalists for the Louis Barnett Prize.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons is an internationally recognized organization representing more than 6,300 members, including 1,700 trainees in nine different specialties in New Zealand and Australia – 90 per cent of surgeons in both countries have been trained and examined by the College. Seven hundred New Zealand surgeons are members of RACS.

The key roles of the college are in advocacy, education, professional development and membership support. The nine specialist areas represented by RACS are: general surgery, neurology, urology, otolaryngology, paediatrics, plastic and reconstructive surgery, vascular surgery and, cardio-thoracic surgery.


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