Laboratory to Bedside: Why Pathology, Research and Clinical Care Need a Connected Journey

31 January 2024

Jill’s perspective on collaborative research and clinical practice was born early in her medical career, while studying for her Ph.D. degree at Flinders Medical Centre (FMC).

Her Ph.D. research looked at the transition in lung micro circulation that occurs at birth as the child adapts to breathing air. Her studies combined the analysis of physiology, anatomy and micro vasculature changes to understand what happens in the pulmonary circulation at this critical transition. Her research experience has informed her practice during her career as a pathologist.

A highlight of her time in research was the range of questions and techniques she was exposed to. One of her supervisors, an anaesthetist, was looking at crocodiles as a diving model. One weekend they put a crocodile into a diving tank on the CT machine to study the blood’s circulatory changes during diving. While not directly linked to her research, it unlocked in Jill’s mind the exciting possibilities for collaborative research and exploring answers in unexpected places.

At the time, FMC was a hospital and research centre, designed around bringing the University and hospital together, and it was there that she observed the critical role such settings play in fostering connections between clinicians and researchers and the co-design of research questions in areas of patient need.

She firmly believes that interdisciplinary collaboration facilitates the translation of fundamental discoveries into improved understanding of disease mechanisms and pathology, and consequently, these insights drive the development of more effective care models, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.

Jill is a fierce supporter of research within SA Pathology and beyond. When asked how she would characterise research success, Jill says “Success comes often as small wins. Steps in understanding basics and pathophysiology, seeing clinicians sitting down with researchers at the same table, discussing ideas, hypothesising and testing theories, evolving thoughts and directions for improvements in patient care and outcomes, and that goes back to translational research.”

Jill’s vision is to see SA Pathology in an amalgamated laboratory integrated into the biomedical precinct, unlocking a new era of collaboration.

“I would like to see an enhanced clinical, pathology and research integration, particularly at our major quaternary hospitals because that is where you’ve got the specialists and often rare and severely sick patients. I’d like to see how we can maximise those interactions and benefits.”

Jill stresses that all disciplines must work together to deliver enhanced patient outcomes, and that recognising this commonality can bring out the best in people and encourage connection, collaboration, and value.

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