Bidding a fond farewell to Professor Christobel Saunders AO

Two women stand beside each other and hold between them a framed certificate
South Metropolitan Health Service Board Chair Adjunct Associate Professor Robyn Collins and Professor Christobel Saunders AO
September 21, 2021

One of Australia’s most prominent research-orientated cancer surgeons, Professor Christobel Saunders AO, is departing Western Australia after being appointed to the James Stewart Chair of Surgery at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Among her many public and private consulting and academic roles, Christobel is a consultant surgeon at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

For more than 30 years, Christobel has been dedicated to evaluating the efficacy and utility of therapy for early breast cancer. Her extensive contributions to breast cancer research include psychosocial, translational, health services research and clinical trials of new treatments.

Christobel was also closely involved in the strategic planning and management of cancer services in Western Australia, authoring the WA Health Cancer Services Framework, and was appointed first Acting Director of the WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network.

With over 200 publications to her name, Christobel has held roles including past President of the Cancer Council WA, past President of the Breast Surgical Society of ANZ, and nationally as past Advisory Council member of organisations such as Cancer Australia. She is on the Board of Breast Cancer Trials and Board Chair of PathWest.

Her sustained career excellence and innovation has been acknowledged publicly through numerous awards and honours including Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), Uccio Querci della Rovere Award, WA Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee and WA Scientist of the Year.

Head of Department for Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group’s Breast Department, Dr Saud Hamza, said Christobel’s commitment had reformed breast cancer services in Western Australia and across the nation.

“Christobel’s hard work has been instrumental in putting the work of our service on the map,” Saud said.

“While her absence is a great loss to us, we celebrate that she will continue her marvellous work at another institution.”

Christobel said that while she looked forward to this next part of her career journey, the decision to move on came with mixed emotions.

“My time in Perth has been a marvellous adventure and a monumental learning experience,” she said.

“Our commitment here of working as a team, and our shared culture of supporting our patients, has been critical to our success.”

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