Issue 2 • 2021

RACP Fellow Professor Lesley Campbell AM awarded prestigious Australian Diabetes Society Lifetime Achievement Award

In December 2020, the Australian Diabetes Society Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed upon Professor Lesley Campbell AM, FRACP. The award is said to be ‘for an individual who made a lasting contribution to education, clinical practice or research in diabetes’.

Professor Campbell is a worthy recipient who says, “this has always been a very desirable aim for our research – achieving a lasting benefit for persons with diabetes.
“I was very honoured and felt that many years of my hard work was being recognised. I feel grateful, but humble. We need to do much more still, preferably aiming to eliminate the disease, which causes so much ill-health, as well as psychological distress,” reflects Professor Campbell.
Professor Campbell is a third-generation female doctor, initially living in small country towns where her mother was a general practitioner, then living in mental hospitals where her mother was a psychiatrist. She attended the University of Sydney and attained both her British and Australian medical specialist degrees.
She has had a long association with St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney in New South Wales dating back to 1979, holding senior leadership roles in the Department of Endocrinology and the Hospital, including Deputy Director, Diabetes Centre (1987–1991), Deputy Chairman, Division of Endocrinology (1990–1992), Director, Diabetes Centre and Services (1991–2015), Chairman, Department of Endocrinology (1992–1996), Deputy Chairman of the Division of Medicine (1993–1995) and Chairman, Division of Medicine (1995–1997).
“During this time, I saw the full range of ill-health and disability caused by diabetes, and so I did research which helped improve prevention, detection and treatment of this disorder. I studied overseas in the United Kingdom, as well as being a student and postgraduate at St Mary's and St Thomas' Hospitals in London.
“I also did fairly novel work on diabetic self-footcare education and regular podiatry review, much neglected at the time. I incorporated this into patient education programs, individual instruction and involved a podiatrist in our education and patient reviews. Much was said about amputation in diabetes at the time, but there was no attention to patient education, self-inspection and regular podiatry review.”
Professor Campbell has had well over 250 papers published with research benefiting diabetes care. She is now Emeritus Professor at the University of New South Wales and has trained over 20 post-doctorate PhD research fellows who are now leaders themselves in diabetes care, including Dr Jerry Greenfield FRACP and Professor Kathy Samaras FRACP.
She was also responsible for incorporating management of the emotional aspects of having diabetes into medical care, which is now a standard approach. Professor Campbell is now focused on the prevention of diabetes at both community and individual susceptibility levels as an important target for future development.
“I am most satisfied with my patient interactions where I have of course applied most up-to-date practice, but in particular I have been able to improve their emotional responses (and hence self-care) to this challenging disease.”
© 2021 The Royal Australasian College of Physicians
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