World Health Day: My health, my right

The UOW graduates pioneering better health for all

Although health is recognised as a human right and enshrined in constitutions worldwide, it isn’t always accessible or achievable. From cancer research to nutritious eating, these UOW alumni are helping change the lives of people everywhere.

Honorary Professor Tanya Buchanan 

Appointed Honorary Professor at UOW in 2022, Tanya Buchanan has spent her life bettering the health of all Australians.

With a PhD from UOW and decades of experience in public health, Professor Buchanan’s primary focus has been on public awareness campaigns of preventable cancers. She spent five years in the UK as the CEO of Action on Smoking and Health (Wales) before becoming CEO of Cancer Council Australia in 2020.  

A woman is standing in a blue and red graduation gown and black doctorate graduate hat on the UOW lawn. In just four years, she has successfully advocated for Federal Government funding for public health and cancer programs, delivered major national public health campaigns including the award-winning Get2It National Bowel Cancer Screening Campaign, and lobbied to secure government and community support for evidence-based best practice public health policy. 

Louise Elliott

Founder and director of CommonHealth Kids, UOW movement science graduate Louise Elliott is passionate about helping secure healthier lifestyles in children through nutrition.  

CommonHealth Kids is a holistic initiative aimed at empowering children to make healthier choices, through interactive school shows and educational books.  

Louise also holds qualifications in nutrition and education, and works alongside nutritionists, educators, paediatricians and public speakers to get kids excited about healthy eating, and “cut parents a break” when it comes to convincing children to eat well.  

Professor Michael Kelso

With a Bachelor of Medicinal Chemistry and more than 25 years' experience in medical research, including 15 years at UOW, Professor Michael Kelso is now principal scientist at Race Oncology

The company is developing new ways to treat cancer and protect the heart, with a focus on Bisantrene, a small molecule anthracene-based chemotherapeutic first developed in the 1970s. 

The drug showed potential with promising clinical trials, however a range of financial acquisitions plus the economic climate of the 1990s meant that Bisantrene was deprioritised, putting the brakes on research.  

Now, Race Oncology is an ASX-listed biotech company putting Bisantrene at the forefront, with the potential to change the lives of cancer patients in Australia and around the world.  

Distinguished Professor Anthony Okely

Originally graduating from UOW as a PE teacher in the 1990s, Professor Anthony Okely has gone on to become a leader in children’s health through education and physical activity.  

Over the past three decades, Professor Okely’s team has overseen development of the Australian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children from birth to five years.

Professor Anthony Okely is wearing a red, blue and white tartan business shirt standing in a classroom. There are children doing deskwork behind him. He also led development of the WHO Global Standards for Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Sleep in Early Childhood Education and Care Settings and contributed to the WHO Global guidelines on physical activity, sedentary and sleep behaviours in children under five years of age, plus similar projects in South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Asia-Pacific Region. 

In 2023, Professor Okely led a field trip of public health students to Tahiti as part of his research into physical activity in children from low- and middle-income countries.  

Scott Penfold and Julia Green

UOW graduates Scott Penfold and Julia Green are each at the forefront of an innovative new cancer treatment initiative, the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Research and Therapy in Adelaide.  

Graduating from UOW in 2007 with a PhD in proton therapy, Associate Professor Penfold spent seven years as an academic and researcher at the University of Adelaide, before joining the Royal Adelaide Hospital as a medical physics specialist, where he stayed for 14 years.  

In 2018 he joined the Australian Bragg Centre as team project manager, and in 2020 was appointed lead medical physicist.  

Bachelor of Medical and Radiation Physics alumna Julia Green graduated UOW in 2008, and again in 2011 with a Master of Science – Research.  

Julia has taken her expertise around Australia, working as Chief Medical Physicist at Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre in Darwin, which helped her secure the UOW Young Alumni Award

She has since joined the Australian Bragg Centre as Clinical Implementation Project Manager, continuing her commitment to equitable cancer care. 


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