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President’s Medical Leader Award – Prof John Dent, gastroenterologist 

Each year, the Australian Medical Association (South Australia) bestows three very special awards at its annual Charity Gala Dinner: the AMA(SA) Medical Educator Award, the AMA(SA) Award, and the AMA(SA) President's Medical Leader Award.

At the 2018 AMA(SA) Charity Gala Dinner on Saturday, 19 May, the final award for the night, the AMA(SA) President's Medical Leader Award for an an outstanding contribution to medical education was presented to Professor John Dent.

The President's Medical Leader Award is a leader to leader award, and recognizes leadership in the medical profession.

This year’s winner, Professor John Dent, graduated in medicine from the University of Cambridge in England and emigrated to Australia in 1972, shortly after which he gained his PhD at Monash University. He has also undertaken postdoctoral research in the United States and Canada.

John was a  Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Adelaide, and the Director of the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and General Medicine at the Royal Adelaide Hospital from 1986 till 2004. He directed the Nerve-Gut Research Laboratory at the Hanson Institute which he founded in 1990.

This laboratory has thrived and moved to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) in 2014. It is now known as The Centre of Nutritional and Gastrointestinal Disease, which is within the Nutrition and Metabolism theme. The Laboratory researches the basic mechanisms of sensing by the gut and how these signals are transmitted and interpreted by nerves and the brain. These functions are fundamental to health and the causation of some important disorders such as obesity, diabetes, reflux disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

“John is a consummate researcher, a driven, inspiring and international educator who has delivered insights into one of the most basic mechanisms of the body, and a very commonly occurring disease,” said AMA(SA) State President A/Prof William Tam. “It is not a glamorous area of medicine in which he has forged his formidable reputation. But it is fundamental. He is also a highly efficient administrator, taking over directorship of his Department at the RAH here in Adelaide and expanding it into a centre of excellence known worldwide. Over the years, he was able to establish networks with the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan and the US, that have fostered collaboration and enhanced knowledge.”

“Despite his formidable accomplishments, for a younger doctor coming up, I found he would always make time to speak with you, and you weren’t afraid to ask. He is a doyen in his field, someone who has flown the flag at international meetings and developed with international colleagues carefully researched endoscopic severity classifications where there were none – that now everyone uses, in the most common of conditions: Barrett’s oesophagus – which is a notable risk factor for the development of cancer – and reflux oesophagitis. In fact, he revolutionised how we treat this very common condition. I can attest first-hand to the impact John has had in the specialty of gastroenterology, and I am delighted to announce him as the AMA(SA) President’s Medical Leader Award for 2018.”

You can read the media release in full here.