Meet the Researcher - Professor Richard Turner

Published on
9 July 2021
Professor Richard Turner

Meet Richard Turner, an experienced Professor of Surgery with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education sector, who for many years now has added his expertise to inform clinical settings in Tasmania and beyond.

Skilled across the diverse areas of epidemiology, emergency medicine and oncology, Richard is heavily involved in lecturing at the University of Tasmania, while also team building across a range of sectors. Through its highly competitive annual grant rounds, the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation has been proud to fund research projects led by Prof Turner in 2010, 2016 and now in 2021.

Professor Turner said he is delighted to work with an excellent group of local Tasmanian collaborators on his most recent research project.

After starting his career in the 1990s as an academic General Surgeon in Cairns, Richard was given advice that would help shape his career.

 “Around the time I started my career I attended a lecture by a UK surgeon who had gained worldwide recognition as an expert in benign conditions that cause mastalgia or painful breasts. His advice to young hopefuls seeking renown in their field was to find a disease process that no-one else was interested in, but was still an area of unmet need for the patients suffering from it. Luckily, my clinical practice in Far North Queensland provided ample inspiration, and before long I had found not one but two unloved diseases on which to build a career.”

“What the visiting UK expert did not quite say was that ‘unloved’ diseases do not attract the same degree of research funding as those conditions considered to be ‘high priority.”

He said he feels extremely fortunate to have received Foundation funding for his important research. Funding in 2015 for the Tasmanian Gynecological Anal Neoplasia Study (TasGANS) culminated in a top-tier publication that raised awareness of anal dysplasia in women with a history of HPV-related gynecological lesions. This was ground-breaking work in a critical area.

Professor Turner and his team have recently received funding for a data linkage study that will quantify the epidemiological and economic burden of pancreatitis in Tasmania. Statewide hospital and pathology data will be linked to provide a dataset which profiles Tasmanian pancreatitis cases from 2007-2018 to underpin further research.

 “We anticipate that this project will provide impetus for similar work on a national scale that will ultimately identify underserviced population groups and lead to tailored strategies for quality improvement - this will be vital for Tasmanians now and into the future,” he said.

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