Vision to relieve chronic pain takes step forward

Geoff and Moira Churack

11 November 2014

The University of Notre Dame Australia's bold vision to improve the quality of life for people experiencing chronic pain in the community through education and research has taken a step forward with the launch of a nation-wide search for a medical specialist to chair this initiative.

Launched by the University in 2013 following a $1 million donation by Rossmoyne couple, Geoff and Moira Churack, The Churack Chair of Chronic Pain Education and Research will be based at Notre Dame's School of Medicine, Fremantle – the first Australian medical school at a Catholic university and one recognised for its innovation and focus on student outcomes.

"The announcement has since attracted generous support from significant benefactors, including an exciting collaborative arrangement with St John of God Health Care," Vice Chancellor, Professor Celia Hammond, said.

"Hopefully, we can find the right person to be the inaugural Chair; someone who will take a leadership role in undergraduate and postgraduate education and research concerning all aspects of chronic pain medicine."

It is estimated that more than three million Australians suffer from some form of debilitating chronic pain at some point in their lives. Chronic pain is a condition that has a profound effect on the quality of life and is a significant burden of disease to the Australian community.

Mr Churack was diagnosed with chronic neuropathic pain more than six years ago. The impact such pain had on his life and the lives of his family members was the motivation to provide whatever assistance he could to advance the research and treatment of chronic pain management.

Dean of the School of Medicine, Fremantle, Professor Shirley Bowen, said this groundbreaking initiative would ensure the graduates possessed a comprehensive understanding of chronic pain, including strategies for treatment and pain intervention.

"Complementing the education of our students will be important research undertaken by leading pain researchers at Murdoch University, together with clinical research at Notre Dame," Professor Bowen said.

"With the input from advanced research and degrees in medicine and other health disciplines such as Nursing, Physiotherapy, Health Sciences and Counselling, we want Notre Dame students to be well-equipped to help relieve the suffering of so many Australians."

The Chair will also have a direct link with the University's Institute for Health Research, Schools of Physiotherapy and Health Sciences, and the School of Arts & Sciences' Counselling program.

Individuals or organisations wanting to learn more or donate to the Chair are encouraged to contact Notre Dame on (08) 9433 0856.

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;