Harvard Medical School
Dr Ross D. Zafonte is Earle P. and Ida S. Charlton Professor and Chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. He also serves as chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as Senior Vice President Medical Affairs Research and Education at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.
Dr Zafonte’s textbook is considered one of the standards in the field of brain injury care. Dr Zafonte’s work is presently funded by the NIH, DOD and NIDRR, and he is currently directing several large clinical treatment trials. His laboratory work has focused on understanding mechanisms of recovery after Brain and Spinal Cord Injury.
He has published extensively on traumatic brain injuries, spasticity, and other neurological disorders, as well as presented on these topics at conferences nationally and internationally. He is the author of more than 300 peer review journal articles, abstracts and book chapters.
In addition, he is on the editorial board of the Journal of Neurotrauma, and NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation. He previously served on the founding editorial board of PMR. In 2006, Dr Zafonte was selected to receive the Walter Zeiter award and lectureship by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and, in 2008, he was the recipient of the Association of Academic Physiatrists Distinguished Academician Award. In 2012, Dr Zafonte received the William Caveness award for outstanding clinical care and research from the Brain Injury Association of America, and, in 2013, he received the Joel DeLisa Prize from the Kessler Foundation. In 2014, Dr Zafonte will receive the Moody prize for Brain Injury research and care. In recent years he has received the following awards: the Sam O. Thier Award and Physician of the Year in 2017, and the Ed Lowman Award, the Dennis Mathews Lectureship and the Chautauqua Lectureship in 2018. Most recently he received the Prince Lectureship in 2019.
Westmead Public Hospital
Dr Rummana Afreen is a Consultant Physician in Rehabilitation Medicine with over 10 years’ experience. Her areas of expertise include developmental disability, orthopaedic rehabilitation, geriatric rehabilitation and multi-trauma.
She has been working at Westmead Public Hospital since 2016 running multidisciplinary outpatient clinics for physical disability clinic, Dysphagia and nutrition clinic, Spina Bifida, complex epilepsy clinics. She also does a lot of transition work in close consultation with the Children’s hospital and the Adolescent and Young adults medicine establishing new clinics as needs arise including a recent establishment of a multidisciplinary spasticity clinic for transition group needing botulinum toxin under sedation, baclofen refill clinic etc. She is resourceful and a passionate advocate for her complex needs group.
Dr Bruno Cayoun is a Clinical Psychologist and principal developer of Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (MiCBT). He is Director of the MiCBT Institute, a leading provider of MiCBT training and professional development to mental health services and professional associations internationally since 2003. Bruno keeps a private practice in Hobart, Australia, undertakes mindfulness research at the MiCBT Institute, and co-supervises several studies in collaboration with various institutions, including Monash University, University of Tasmania, University of Technology Sydney, and Massey University. He has practised mindfulness meditation and undergone intensive training in France, Nepal, India, and Australia since 1989.
Bruno is the author of three books, including Mindfulness-integrated CBT: Principles and Practice (Wiley, 2011), Mindfulness-integrated CBT for Well-Being and Personal Growth: Four Steps to Enhance Inner Calm, Self-Confidence and Relationships (Wiley, 2015) and co-author of The Clinical Handbook of Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behavior Therapy: A Step-by-Step Guide for Therapists (Wiley, 2018). His mindfulness training audio instructions are used worldwide in various languages, and he is the principal developer of questionnaires, including the Short Progress Assessment and the Mindfulness-based Self Efficacy Scale.
University of Queensland
A/Professor Tracy Comans is a NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellow in the Centre for Health Services Research, University of Queensland and an adjunct Research Fellow in Metro North Hospital and Health Service. Her work involves the application of economics in complex multidisciplinary health services contexts. This includes developing simulation models that can assess wider benefits and costs than those in traditional economic models. She also applies economic models to investigate the cost-effectiveness of health care interventions and leads and develops health services research focussing on older people, allied health and rehabilitation services.
Her current work is focussed on developing new methods to measure quality of life for people living with dementia. This work will ensure that programs of care are targeted at the areas that people living with dementia value the most.
She has degrees in physiotherapy and economics (Hons) with a clinical background as a physiotherapist with special interests in aged care, dementia and rehabilitation.
St Vincent's Hospital
As a rehabilitation and specialist pain medicine physician working at St Vincent’s and Northern hospitals in Melbourne, Dr Harry Eemans’ practice is heavily influenced by his understanding of the mind body connection. This understanding was first sparked during his undergraduate study of philosophy and has continued to strengthen through years of experience heading up an interdisciplinary team who use this knowledge as central to their practice in achieving transformative outcomes for patients. Dr Eeman is also influenced by his own unique experience as one of the first people in Australia to qualify and practice medicine as a quadriplegic which required overcoming significant attitudinal and physical barriers. He is the recipient of The Aspire Award (Supreme Court Victoria & AMA) for best achievement in Medicine – Specialist.
University of Sydney
Associate Professor Damien Finniss (MB BS, PhD, MSc Med, BPhty, BExSc) is a clinician and researcher at the Department of Anaesthesia and the University of Sydney Pain Management Research Institute, Royal North Shore Hospital. He has published numerous papers in International peer reviewed journals and contributed several book chapters in the field of placebo analgesia, particularly on clinical implications.
He served as the Chair of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) group on Placebo for 15 years and regularly presents his work at International meetings. He has held and continues to hold leadership positions in Pain Management in Australia and Internationally.
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Professor Fary Khan (MBBS, MD, FAFRM (RACP)) is the Director of Rehabilitation Services, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Director Australian Rehabilitation Research Centre; Clinical Professor Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne and The Nossal Institute of Global Health, and Monash University.
Fary Khan is a Specialist in Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine, and Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP). She has 20 years of experience in Neurological, Cancer and Trauma rehabilitation. She set up evidence-based specialized rehabilitation programs for specific conditions such as Multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, stroke, oncology, musculoskeletal injuries and disaster management. She represents Australia (and Pacific) region for Rehabilitation Medicine at a number of international forums. She is current Chair of the Disaster Rehabilitation Committee, International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM) and Disaster Rehabilitation Special Interest Group, Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand.
She led the Emergency Medical Team under the auspices of the WHO in the Nepal earthquake and other natural disasters since. She holds 20 National/International Executive positions and over 15 international academic appointments at various Universities. She is Executive member of ISPRM Women’s Task force and Cancer Rehabilitation Working Group. She has an interest in Refugee Health and Disability. She works with the Executive for the UN -International Council for Caring Communities- representing medical disability. She is also regional representative for the Asia-Oceania Society of Neurorehabilitation (AOCNR), Australian representative for Steering group for the Psychosocial Influences upon Chronic Disease Outcomes across Europe, and others. She leads the Global Rehabilitation ‘Flying Faculty’ (endorsed by the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, RACP, ISPRM), established to support capacity building activities in Rehabilitation Medicine, with educational training programs in over 15 countries.
She has a leadership role in Rehabilitative care in Australia with experience in health outcomes and health services research. She has received numerous awards, including the Sidney Licht Lectureship Award (2018) by the ISPRM, the Inaugural RMH Research Medal in 2014 and the Inaugural RACP specialist award for ‘Outstanding contribution to Research and Mentoring’ in 2009. She has published over 350 scientific papers in peer-reviewed academic journals (including 18 Cochrane reviews, 20 book chapters), and is a regular invited speaker at national and international conferences (over 60 presentations in last 5 years). She leads a team of interdisciplinary researchers, implementing and evaluating healthcare innovations and quality improvement programs. She has supervised 8 PhDs and postdoctoral fellows, and currently supervises 8 PhD and 3 MD students at the University of Melbourne. She is also a reviewer for more than ten neuroscience and rehabilitative care journals.
Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital
Professor Susan Kurrle is a geriatrician practising at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital in northern Sydney and at Batemans Bay Hospital in southern NSW. She is the Clinical Network Director for Rehabilitation and Aged Care in Northern Sydney Local Health District. She holds the Curran Chair in Health Care of Older People in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney. She has led the NHMRC Partnership Centre on Dealing with Cognitive and Related Functional Decline since 2012 focussing on research and implementation projects dealing particularly with the care aspects of dementia and functional decline. She has been involved in frailty research and practice since 2008 and currently leads the Northern Sydney Frailty Initiative bringing together the Local Health District (acute hospitals) and the Primary Health Network (general practice and allied health) to recognise and manage frailty in older patients. She has worked with colleagues at Griffith University on intergenerational care programs and most recently was involved with the ABC TV series ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’ which showed the improvements in mood and function that intergenerational care programs can have for older people.
Active Rehabilitation Physiotherapy
Dharsha Navaratnam is an experienced Neurological Physiotherapist working at Active Rehabilitation Physiotherapy and the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. Her interest areas include rehabilitation of stroke, vestibular dysfunction and movement disorders - in particular functional neurological disorder. She was the physiotherapy team leader at the Mater FND Clinic and regularly provides FND education alongside Dr Alex Lehn and Dr Paul Pun across Australia.
Dharsha has extensive inpatient and outpatient experience in rehabilitation physiotherapy services, gained through her work here in Queensland and in the United Kingdom. Dharsha also holds a Masters in Rehabilitation (Neurological Physiotherapy) and has been awarded as a APA Titled Neurological Physiotherapist.
Children's Hospital, Westmead
Dr Simon Paget is a Paediatric Rehabilitation Specialist and Head of the Cerebral Palsy and Movement Disorders Service at Kids Rehab, the Children's Hospital at Westmead.
He leads a team dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children with cerebral palsy and their families and is passionate about improving healthcare delivery through clinical innovation and research.
Dr Gaj Panagoda is a specialist paediatric rehabilitation physician and general paediatrician at SuperKid Rehab, a rehabilitation centre for children and young adults with disabilities.
In addition to Superkid Rehab, he has a clinical and policy role at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, where he is establishing a disability service across 21 Aboriginal health clinics. He is also a Senior Medical Officer at the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, Queensland Children’s Hospital. Dr Panagoda’s practical and collaborative approach to rehabilitation plans is reinforced by his previous work as a physiotherapist and allied health assistant.
Dr Panagoda is passionate about rural and Indigenous health service delivery. Having grown up in rural NSW and worked in remote WA, he has first hand experience of the complex issues faced in these areas. His wife and two children happily take up most of his spare time.
Dr Paul Pun is the Clinical Director of Mental Health Services at Mater Hospital, South Brisbane.
He has worked as a psychiatrist for 20 years, especially in the sub-specialty of consultation-liaison psychiatry (the interface of medicine and mental illness). Apart from his position at the Mater, Dr Pun is also the lead psychiatrist in the state-wide Gender service based at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.
Dr Pun has a keen interest in psychiatric training, and currently holds the position of Queensland RANZCP Director of advanced training in consultation liaison psychiatry.
University of Queensland
Associate Professor Marc Ruitenberg conducted his doctoral research on spinal cord injury in the Neuroregeneration Laboratory of Prof. Joost Verhaagen at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, and was awarded his PhD for this work in 2003 from the VU University Amsterdam. He then moved to Perth (Western Australia) for further training with the WA Neurotrauma Research Program as a postdoctoral fellow. Marc was recruited to The University of Queensland in 2009, where he is now Head of the Central Nervous System Injury and Inflammation Research Laboratory, and also a Reader in Neuroanatomy within the Faculty of Medicine at The University of Queensland.
He is also an Honorary Research Fellow of SpinalCure Australia. Marc’s research is focused on furthering our understanding of what actually happens inside the spinal cord when someone gets injured, how the body responds to it, and how inflammation influences recovery. His laboratory is combining pre-clinical research with the study of human SCI to achieve this, and he has also been directing the world’s first clinical trial on the use of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) to target post-traumatic inflammation in acute spinal cord injury.
Frances Simmonds is a Senior Research Fellow with the Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI) at the University of Wollongong, one of the largest and best known Health Services Research Centres in Australia. Her primary role is as the Director of AROC, the Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre, the Australian and New Zealand national rehabilitation clinical registry, but she is also involved in other AHSRI projects. Frances’ career within the health industry has spanned some 25 plus years, during which time she has held senior executive roles in the private and not-for-profit sectors before returning to research and academia at the University of Wollongong.
University of Queensland
A/ Professor Sean Tweedy is based in the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences (HMNS), University of Queensland where he leads a teaching, research and community service program in physical activity and disability. He is Foundation and Principal Investigator for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Classification Research and Development Partnership (Physical Impairments).
Systems of classification are used in each of the 40 sports of the Paralympic movement, and aim to facilitate fair competition by allocating each athlete to a class comprising athletes who have disabilities that cause approximately the same amount of disadvantage in that sport. The Partnership’s research program aims to develop evidence-based methods for class allocation.
Sean founded and directs the Adapted Physical Activity Program (APAP), an evidence-based, physical activity promotion service for community-dwelling adults with disabilities. Based in the School of HMNS, APAP runs on a cost recovery basis, servicing between 70 and 90 clients per annum and providing placement opportunities for students. A translational research project aiming to modify it for application in the Acquired Brain Injury - Translational Rehabilitation Service (Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane) is currently in train.
Sean also leads the ParaSTART program, a longitudinal research project which has run for the past three years. Participants were enrolled as novice swimmers and all have cerebral palsy and high support needs (GMFCS IV). They train regularly with the sole aim of swimming as fast as possible , while the aim of the research program is to monitor and analyse their physical and psychosocial responses over time.
Princess Alexandra Hospital
Dr Michael Wagels is Deputy Director of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Princess Alexandra Hospital with a conjoined academic appointment as Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland. He completed a BMedSci undergraduate research degree in 1999 and an MBBS undergraduate medical degree in the same year. He completed his FRACS in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 2012 and was awarded a PhD by the University of Queensland in 2014.
His theses evaluated amputation in severe lower limb trauma and the behaviour of auto-transplanted muscle for traumatic lower limb injuries. Michael has a special interest in complex lower limb reconstruction, hand and wrist surgery, reanimation of the upper limb and head and neck reconstructive surgery. He is also interested in the translational aspects of tissue engineering for complex reconstructive defects.
In 2019 he was appointed Director of the Australian Centre for Complex Integrated Surgical Solutions. This organisation is based at the Translational Research Institute and is dedicated to making clinically applied digital innovations accessible to clinicians and the patients that they treat.