Professor Geoff Isbister has spent his career studying snakes, spiders, poisons and drugs.
The discoveries he's made - and the changes they've helped make - have led him to be awarded an AM for "significant service to medical research in the field of toxicology".
"All my research challenges beliefs about toxic substances," said Professor Isbister, of the Calvary Mater hospital at Waratah and University of Newcastle.
"Almost every time we do a study, the result isn't what you expect."
A big part of his work was establishing the Australian Snakebite Project.
"We have defined the dose of snake antivenom," he said.
"This has reduced the dose required from many vials to one, which has potentially saved millions of dollars in antivenom that doesn't haven't to be kept at thousands of hospitals around Australia."
The project has also defined the effects of all Australian venomous snakes.
He has also researched redback spider antivenom.
"We showed the antivenom is no more effective than standard pain relief," he said.
It led to changes that meant patients were no longer exposed to a treatment that was ineffective and could cause an allergic reaction.
He's now researching better pain relief for redback spider bites.
He said one of the challenges of toxicology was "overcoming decades of dogma".
"Many treatments are based on a single case or expert opinion from a long time ago," he said.
"For example, antivenom is believed to be the miraculous cure. But modern medicine is now being defined by high-level evidence, such as clinical trials."
He's also on the drug committee at Westmead Children's Hospital as a clinical pharmacology expert.
His work includes defining the effects of new drugs during an overdose.
"New drugs enter the market and we start seeing overdoses. We have to work out how to treat them," he said.
His work includes developing risk assessments for drugs involved in overdoses. This includes determining early indicators of toxicity in patients having an overdose, so "we can give early treatments".
He has examined the prospect of electrocardiograms for patients who take drugs that can cause "cardiac toxicity and life-threatening arrhythmia".
"The main drugs we worry about that cause cardiac toxicity in overdose are antidepressants and antipsychotics," he said.
"In particular, we have looked at citalopram and amisulpride. This relates to deliberate self-poisoning."
CONGRATULATIONS to all our OAM recipients including:
- DR Milton Sales, of Brunker Road General Practice and Hunter Primary Care, was recognised for service to medicine and the community. He has provided free medical care to the homeless through the Soul Cafe Doctors Clinic and has been a Fellow and a registrar supervisor for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners since 1993.
- Jack McNaughton from Marks Point received a OAM for service to the community through charitable organisations. He has been associated with Australian Business Volunteers for more than 20 years and completed five assignments in Vanuatu, Western Samoa and East Timor as a volunteer builder.
- Beryl Tobin, of Newcastle, was praised for services to golf. Mrs Tobin has been a member of Newcastle District Golf Association since 1959, is a patron of Waratah Golf Club and a five-time president of Newcastle Hunter District Ladies Golf Association.
- Brenda Booth, of Woy Woy, was honoured for service to community health.
- Gosford's Patsy Edwards was praised for service to veterans and their families.
- Denise Lawrence's service to music education was recognised. A founding member of the Australian Strings Association, Ms Lawrence, of the Central Coast, has been a cello teacher for 50 years.
- Dr Michael Scobie was awarded an OAM for service to ophthalmology, and to the community.
- Central Coast resident Karin McGann was praised for service through Lions Clubs Australia.
- Forster's Doreen Wilson was honoured for her service to gymnastics.
QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY HONOURS: