Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM wins AMA Excellence in Healthcare Award

25 May 2018
A pioneer in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder research, patient care and advocacy, Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM has been awarded the Excellence in Healthcare Award 2018 by the Australian Medical Association.
Professor Elizabeth Elliott

The University of Sydney’s Professor Elizabeth Elliott has won the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Excellence in Healthcare Award 2018 for her pioneering research, advocacy and clinical work in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Professor Elliott was presented with her award by AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, at the AMA National Conference in Canberra today.

Dr Elliott is a distinguished Professor in Paediatrics and Health at the University’s Sydney Medical School and a NHMRC Practitioner Fellow. She has been a passionate advocate for raising awareness about FASD for more than 20 years.

FASD, which is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure, is recognised as the leading preventable cause of prenatal brain injury, birth defects, and developmental and learning disability worldwide. There are lifelong consequences for children born from alcohol-exposed pregnancies.

Prevalence of FASD has been estimated at five per cent in mainstream communities, 20 percent in some remote Indigenous communities, and 36 percent in young offenders in Western Australia. Until recently, there have been no diagnostic guidelines, limited clinician skills, and no specialised clinics.

“I’m humbled and delighted to receive this award honouring my work,” said Professor Elliott.

“Over the past 20 years, FASD has evolved from being a little-known, poorly recognised, and misunderstood condition to becoming a major strategic focus for Commonwealth and State Health Departments.

“I look forward to a future that includes early diagnosis, effective treatment and most importantly preventing the tragedy of FASD. Prevention will only be achieved if clinicians partner with families, communities, advocates and government to support evidence-based policy and education to prevent alcohol harms.” 

Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney Dr Michael Spence said: “The University is proud of the remarkable work of Professor Elliott and is delighted to see her significant contribution to the community recognised by this award.

“Her efforts have improved health care services and changed health outcomes for children and families living with and affected by FASD.”

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon said: “Professor Elliott is a true pioneer in the FASD field and has contributed to the development of Australia’s response to FASD, through addressing aspects of health policy, health care delivery, education, and health awareness in the work she has undertaken.

“And FASD is only one component of Professor Elliott’s work, which includes disadvantaged children in immigration detention, with rare disorders and living in remote Australia.

“She is a worthy recipient of the AMA Excellence in Healthcare Award.”


  • In 2008, Professor Elliott was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to paediatrics and child health, and in 2017 she received the Howard Williams Medal from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) – its highest award – for her contribution to paediatrics in Australia and New Zealand
  • Professor Elliott played a significant leadership role in developing the Australian Guide to the Diagnosis of FASD and online training modules, new clinical services, a national FASD website and a national FASD register
  • She chaired the Australian government’s National FASD Technical Network and is Co-Chair of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in FASD, and is Head of the NSW FASD Assessment service
  • She was lead clinician in the Lililwan study on FASD prevalence in the Fitzroy Valley and has published extensively on FASD
  • Professor Elliott contributed to WHO, NHMRC and RACP alcohol guidelines and has been a keynote, invited, or scientific presenter at more than 300 conferences nationally and internationally
  • She was nominated for this award by the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (NOFASD), the first and largest and organisation dedicated to FASD in Australia.

The AMA Excellence in Healthcare Award is for an individual who has made a significant contribution to improving health or health care in Australia. The person may be involved in health awareness, health policy, or health delivery.

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