Churack Chair supports Notre Dame's bold vision to relieve Chronic Pain

Vice Chancellor Professor Celia Hammond, Geoff and Moira Churack, with the Dean of the School of Medicine, Fremantle Professor Gavin Frost, at the media conference to launch the Churack Chair.

13 June 2013

The University of Notre Dame Australia has launched a bold new initiative to relieve the widespread suffering caused by chronic pain - the nation's biggest health problem impacting on more than 3.5 million Australians.

As part of the plan, Notre Dame medical students will now enhance their learning about chronic pain management and rehabilitation as a core component of their integrated curriculum – believed a first for any university medical school in Australia.

"Notre Dame wants to ensure that upon graduation our medical students possess a current and comprehensive understanding of chronic pain, including strategies for management including drug use and their side effects," said Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond.

Prof Hammond said the exciting new initiative had been made possible due to the generosity of Rossmoyne couple, Geoff and Moira Churack, who have donated $1 million to establish The Churack Chair of Chronic Pain Education and Research.

"This substantial donation will fund important education and research and the appointment of an internationally-acclaimed medical specialist to provide the leadership required to prepare students to deal with patients suffering from chronic pain," said Professor Hammond.

"The research will be undertaken by leading pain researchers at Murdoch University and, together with clinical research at Notre Dame, will underpin much of the education and rehabilitation teaching."

Mr Churack, a successful West Australian businessman, was diagnosed with chronic neuropathic pain more than five years ago.

In trying to find relief from his pain, he has independently researched chronic pain and has been prepared and willing to try numerous types of treatment options.

His first-hand experience of the impact such pain can have on all aspects of someone's life, and their family and friends, has motivated him to provide whatever assistance he can to see that research and treatment into chronic pain is advanced.

Notre Dame's Fremantle School of Medicine Dean, Professor Gavin Frost, said chronic pain cost the community more than $34 billion and there were long lists of patients awaiting treatment, many of them experiencing excruciating pain as well as emotional and psychological damage.

"With Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Midwifery, Physiotherapy, and other health disciplines including Health Sciences and Counselling, Notre Dame will bring them all together to holistically address the issue of Chronic Pain in the community," he said.

"With input from advanced research we want our graduates to be well equipped to help relieve the suffering of so many Australians."

Professor Hammond said Notre Dame would establish collaborative relationships with major hospitals, clinics and general practice networks.

"The Chair will also be responsible for building relationships and forming research partnerships with organisations which are currently undertaking laboratory based research into Chronic Pain in ways which are consistent with our mission as a Catholic university," she said.

The Churack Chair of Chronic Pain Education and Research will be housed in the School of Medicine, Fremantle and have a direct link with the University's Institute for Health Research, School of Physiotherapy, School of Nursing and Midwifery, School of Health Sciences and School of Arts & Sciences' Counseling program.

The University of Notre Dame Australia is currently raising $3 million with a view to establishing The Churack Chair during the second half of 2013.

Individuals or organisations wanting to learn more are encouraged to contact Notre Dame on (08) 9433 0860.

Barry Thornton (Media Advisor) - 0411 557 328
Shelley Mason (Manager, Vice Chancellery & Special Projects) - 08 9433 0860

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