1986 Scholar in Medicine
Scholarship biography (at time of award)
Robyn O'Hehir graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery with First Class honours from Monash University in 1979 and was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1984. Robyn completed an internship at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne where she was later promoted to Fellow in Allergy & Respiratory Medicine in 1984.
Robyn was awarded the scholarship to study within the Cardiothoracic Institute of Brompton Hospital at London University where she will develop skills in advanced research procedures related to the treatment of respiratory diseases such as Asthma.
Studied at: University of London
Professor Robyn O’Hehir is internationally acclaimed as a key researcher in allergy and respiratory immunology. Over 25 years, she invented and established the feasibility of cloning allergen-specific T cells to define T-cell epitopes. She has an active patent portfolio in translational research. This research has translated into practical immunotherapy for house dust mite and grass pollen aeroallergens, and soon for peanut allergy, all progressing in trials or to the clinic. As a respiratory physician, she has pioneered use of the natural anti-inflammatory follistatin in cystic fibrosis. She was the first adult physician to hold a full Professorship in allergy in Australia, is a Life Governor of Asthma Victoria, and has more than 230 publications with over 10,000 career citations. In 2015 she was honoured by election as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and a Fellow of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.
The contribution of Professor O’Hehir to the allergy and respiratory field ranges from T cell epitope mapping of allergens, through translational research on novel immunogens designed to invoke protective immunity, to clinical research on the pathophysiology and management of asthma. The importance of her research is reflected by her success in competitive grant funding including continuous NHMRC funding (21 NH&MRC or ARC grants over her career at Monash/Alfred since 1997) Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, Cooperative Research Centre for Asthma and Allergy, Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation, CASS Foundation and Alfred Research Trusts. In 2007 she was honoured by the NHMRC as one of ten “Great Minds in Australian Research”. Professor O’Hehir also contributes to the community through membership of World Allergy Organisation committees, the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology committee on International Consensus of Allergen Immunotherapy and the Governing Board of Cabrini Health. Professor O’Hehir currently serves as Editor of the international journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy. She is regularly invited to give plenary and symposium keynote talks at national and international meetings. Professor O’Hehir is Director of the Department of Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine at The Alfred Hospital studying and treating the full range of allergic and respiratory conditions. She is noted for offering the highest quality of leadership to a broadly based Department, with strong areas of basic research, clinical research, public health commitment and specialist clinical practice. She is actively engaged in national and international clinical trials, to ensure that her combined research and clinical duties focus on translation of research findings into improved Hospital and community clinical practice.