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Associate Professor Simone Strasser (1979), Hepatologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney
As a schoolgirl Simone Strasser knew she wanted to study medicine. She wasn’t sure which specialty it should be, but wanted one that would allow her to both consult with patients
with chronic conditions and be involved in procedural work. Gastroenterology appealed; securing a liver transplant fellowship at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital opened up the field which has fascinated her ever since.
Becoming a medical specialist requires patience. Now an Associate Professor, Simone got her first permanent job at the age of 37. “That’s the path most specialists take,” she says. “It’s a long journey, but it’s worthwhile.” Her job sees her involved with the government approval and funding of new medication; she is on the board for Hepatitis NSW; is honorary treasurer of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia; and still sees patients.
Over the past 15 years, she has witnessed vast changes in the rates of liver disease. The severity and prevalence of viral hepatitis has increased, as have the rates of obesity and diabetes (which contribute to liver diseases). In 2015, 98 people in NSW needed liver transplants — the most ever. “Fortunately we are seeing an increase in organ donation. But it’s never enough,” she says.
Simone believes Wenona set her up well for academic achievement and is thrilled that her daughter Nathalie, Dux of the School in 2010, has followed in her footsteps. Nathalie is in her third year of postgraduate medicine and “loves every minute of it!”