David Cox – A rising star in Genetics and Molecular Pathology

14 April 2023

Born and bred in the sunshine state, David Cox constantly sought opportunities for learning and for future development, starting with his Bachelor of Biochemical Science at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba. While completing the degree he began a phlebotomy course and worked at Mater Pathology, giving him a foot in the door.

His hard work paid off, and during his final semester he was offered a Specimen Reception Area position at the hospital performing data entry of pathology specimens.

For eight years, David then navigated a path through Chemical Pathology, specialising in inborn errors of metabolism.

Honing his skills, he moved to Chemical Pathology at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital to work in the analytical chemistry unit’s liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry section with a strong focus on inborn errors of metabolism. As a member of the Australasian Society for Inborn Errors of Metabolism (ASIEM), David soon joined the executive committee and took on the position of treasurer. He has more recently taken on the position of honorary treasurer on the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) executive committee.

Making the move to SA Pathology

These memberships also allowed him to create relationships with SA Pathology staff - so when a role came up in 2018, David was excited to make the move.

“I began as the supervising scientist for the National Referral Laboratory before moving through to the metabolic lab, and then becoming operations manager for the last 18 months.”

With a background in Chemistry, working in Genetics and Molecular Pathology was a new challenge for David.

“There was a crossover in the biochemical genetics’ aspect, but in this role in particular, [Acting Directorate Manager GMP], I have been able to spend more time at Frome Road Labs with these excellent people. It’s the hub of most of GMP’s activity. It’s very interesting and it’s the future.”

More than just science

David isn’t just all about science though. He knows successfully managing people is key to delivering outcomes and improving patient care.

“When I was in Queensland, I did a masters in business (MBA) because I wanted to be a scientist that’s good at managing people. People skills are important to me, science is of course the foundation, but people are a big part too.”

As one of SA Pathology’s rising stars, David’s passion is obvious, and it drives him to be his best.

“I’m passionate about the why. Pathology is such an exciting field, and genetics is everchanging. I’m excited that we are making a difference in how clinicians treat patients and how they request a diagnosis.”

David’s work takes him between Frome Road, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre. Every day is different, but there is a big focus on the increasing demand of testing with more genetic testing becoming available on the Medicare Benefit Scheme.

Harnessing the power of digital technology

David says much of his work involves streamlining processes across work groups and platforms, driving clinical excellence and continuous improvement.

“It’s also about getting a good structure and routine together and creating pathways for passionate scientists. When I look at my career, I had a lot of mentors and guidance along the way, and those created opportunities. I want to create opportunities for up-and-coming scientists. It's important that people see there is a way to progress.”

David’s passion for knowledge sharing also saw him move the GMP Seminar Series from in-person sessions at Frome Road to an online resource. Using digital technologies has given staff the opportunity to access fortnightly meetings, webinars, and links to conferences from anywhere. This change has opened up team discussions across the sites about new and exciting methods and strengthened peer networks.

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