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A/Professor Tracey O'Brien

Director of the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick and Clinical Research Fellow at Children’s Cancer Institute

A/Professor O’Brien is the current director of the Kids Cancer Centre and the Head of the Blood & Marrow Transplant program. Professor O'Brien has  particular interest and expertise in marrow and cord blood transplants, treatment of high risk and relapsed leukaemia and lymphoma, infant leukaemia and adolescent cancers. Additionally, A/Professor O'Brien has extensive knowledge  in treatment of life threatening non-malignant diseases requiring transplantation including Severe Aplastic Anaemia, inherited bone marrow failure syndromes, metabolic diseases, immune deficiencies, Hemophagocytosis and Histiocytosis.

Prof O’Brien has more than 80 publications in high impact journals including Blood, Stem Cells, Leukaemia, Journal of Clinical Oncology, British Journal of Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation and has authored 7 leading textbook chapters on leukaemia, child cancer or transplant. Prof O’Brien has a broad research protfolio with interest in clinical transplant outcomes, health system research and bioethics. Prof O'Brien continues to champion safety, quality and improvement  as a top priority for all KCC. Prof O'Brien also leads a team of laboratory researches whose mission is to translate new discoveries to improve engraftment and reduced side effects of transplant including graft versus host disease from the benchtop to the bedside. This includes cellular therapies such as CAR-T cells to treat leukaemic relapse.

Prof O’Brien has an exemplary academic record including graduating magnum cum laude of her medical class and completion of post-graduate training at University of Minnesota, an internationally recognised leader in transplant with very competitive entry. Prof O’Brien was awarded the position of Chief Fellow and received the highest research award for a sub-specialty fellow during her time in the US. Her published pre-clinical work on engineered suicide T-cells for the prevention and treatment of graft versus host disease contributed to the foundations for an FDA approved phase I clinical trial. In addition to her medical degree, A/Prof O'Brien has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Masters in Health Law (USyd) and an executive MBA (AGSM, UNSW).

Prof  O’Brien was recruited back to Australia in October 2004 as Head of the Haematopoeitic Stem Cell Transplant Program. Under Prof O’Brien’s leadership, SCH has achieved international cellular therapy accreditation (FACT), the first Australian stand alone paediatric program to achieve this and has reduced mortality rates below national and international benchmarks.

Prof O’Brien is a productive clinician scientist.  In the last 5 years she has attracted project grant funding in excess of $5 million including NHMRC, Cancer Council, UNSW and Cancer Institute of NSW and other philanthropic funding. In addition, Prof O’Brien has a strong commitment to education and teaching with active supervision and mentorship of 16 oncology and transplant paediatric subspecialty trainees and 4 phD candidates

Prof O’Brien has held a number of executive and advisory board positions including the Vice President of the Australian & New Zealand Children’s Haemotology Oncology Group (ANZCHOG), an executive advisory board member for the Centre for International Bone Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) and an executive council member of the NSW BMT Network.

Prof O'Brien was the past Chair of the CI NSW, Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Group and a founding executive member of the Cancer Australia steering committee on AYA Cancer and a National AYA COSA subcommittee. In 2005, Prof O’Brien presented evidence to a Senate Select Committee resulting in Federal and State recommendations for improved care of adolescent and young adult cancer patients in Australia.