Pond, Susan Margaret

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Susan Pond has been a world leader in physiological research into the functions and mechanisms of the liver. She was the first woman to be appointed to a Personal Professorial Chair in the Department of Medicine at the University of Queensland, the first woman to receive the Wellcome Australia Medal, and the first female Managing Director of a Johnson & Johnson Company in Australia.

Susan was educated at the University of Sydney, graduating from Medicine in 1969. She was a Resident Medical Officer at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and in 1971, Medical Registrar at St Vincent’s Hospital. She became a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians in 1972 and a year later, received a three-year National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Postgraduate Research Scholarship, joining the Clinical Pharmacology Department at St Vincent’s.

In 1977, Susan was awarded a Doctor of Medicine from the University of New South Wales for “research on drug metabolism by cytochrome P450 in human liver”.[1] She received a Merck Sharp and Dohme International Fellowship in Clinical Pharmacology and undertook two years of postdoctoral study at the University of California in San Francisco. In 1978, she was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at UCSF having obtained Board credentials in Internal Medicine and Clinical Toxicology. Here she conducted clinical work and research in both disciplines and played a key role in the formation of the Northern California Occupational Health Centre and the San Francisco Poison Control Centre, where she served as a Consultant until her return to Australia.[1]

On her return to Australia in 1984, Susan took up a position as Associate Professor of Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Queensland and was later appointed to a Personal Chair Professor in 1990. She is the first woman in the Department of Medicine at the University to receive this honour. 1991 saw Susan and colleagues in the University’s Veterinary Pathology Department, the Queensland Health Department and the Government Chemical Laboratory selected to develop an NHMRC National Centre in Environmental Toxicology.[1]

The Women in Science Enquiry Network Inc writes that Susan’s clinical and research interests include “the physiology of the hepatic uptake and disposition of drugs and nutrients, novel therapeutic approaches to the treatment of poisoned patients, and the mechanisms of the neurotoxicity of the antipsychotic drug, haloperidol”.[1] She has studied new forms of drug therapy for people with liver cancer and investigated the treatment of schizophrenia, examining how drugs or their breakdown products cause side effects in patients.

In 1992, Susan was awarded the Wellcome Australia Medal in honour of her accomplishments as a research scientist. Susan is the first woman to receive this Medal. In 1994, she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for “service to clinical pharmacology and toxicology”.[1] She served on numerous regulatory committees in the Commonwealth Department of Health and for three years from 1994, as Chairman of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee, the first female Chairman of this Committee. In 1995, Susan was awarded the Michael Rand Medal by the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists on the occasion of her delivery of the Michael Rand lecture.[1] She was nominated as Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 1996, and received a Doctor of Science “for her work on probing the function of the liver using pharmacological tools” from the University of Queensland in 1997.[1]

Susan has been and remains a member of a number of professional societies and national committees, and throughout her career has written around 190 scientific papers and well over 20 chapters in books.

In 1997, Susan was appointed Adjunct Professor at the Universities of Queensland and Sydney, and Director of Pharmaceutical Research at Johnson & Johnson Research Pty Limited (JJR) in Sydney.[1] Her role at JJR until 2002 was to identify and transform opportunities in the broader research community into successful biotechnology and pharmaceutical products. In 2003, Susan was Chairman and Managing Director of JJR, the first female Managing Director of a Johnson & Johnson Company in Australia and also received a Centenary Medal. She is providing the vision and leadership to ensure that JJR achieves its goal of discovering and developing break-through products for human healthcare. She is leading the cell-delivered gene transfer clinical trial in patients with HIV infection that is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Research Pty Limited.

Susan is concurrently a Director of AusBiotech Ltd, which facilitates the commercialisation of Australian innovation, and Member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation.

Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Pond, Susan Margaret. Faculty of Medicine Online Museum and Archive, University of Sydney.

An alternate version appears in: Mellor, L. 150 Years, 150 Firsts: The People of the Faculty of Medicine (2006) Sydney, Sydney University Press.