SNOG Chairman & Neurosurgeon
Dr Cook’s sub-specialty interests in neurosurgery include surgery for brain tumours, pituitary surgery, hydrocephalus, functional neurosurgery and minimally invasive procedures of the spine.
Dr Cook has been a practising neurosurgeon in northern Sydney for the past 15 years.
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He is currently Head of the Department of Neurosurgery at Royal North Shore Hospital having gained his medical degree at the University of Sydney, graduating with Honours in 1982. His internship and residency was at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Westmead Hospital.
He became a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in Neurosurgery in 1992 having trained at Westmead Hospital, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth with Senior Registrar and Fellowship positions at Atkinson’s Morley Hospital in London and the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US.
Dr Cook is the current chairman of the Sydney Neuro-Oncology Group which is a registered charity dedicated to all aspects including management of the overall care of brain tumours.
SNOG Deputy Chairman & Neurosurgeon
Dr Biggs is a neurosurgeon specialising in peripheral nerve surgery, microvascular decompression for trigeminal neuralgia/hemifacial spasm, and base of skull surgery.
Dr Biggs graduated MBBS in January 1985. He underwent advanced neurosurgical training at St Vincents, Royal North Shore and Prince of Wales Hospitals in Sydney.
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At the completion of his training he undertook overseas fellowships in Toronto, Pittsburgh, Phoenix and New Orleans, where he refined his skills in Base of Skull Surgery, Microvascular Decompression and Peripheral Nerve Surgery, working with household names in world Neurosurgery (Professors Sekhar, Janetta, Spetzler and Kline).
On returning to Sydney he took up a consultant Neurosurgical appointment at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital in September 1993.Dr Biggs operates at Royal North Shore Hospital, North Shore Private Hospital and does minor procedures at Berkeley Vale Private Hospital. He is a founding member and Director of Sydney Neuro Oncology Group and continues to undertake research projects and publish in Australian and International Journals.
Dr Biggs has been Head of Department of Neurosurgery at North Shore Private Hospital since it opened in 1998, and is currently chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee.
Dr Dandie completed MBBS at the University of NSW between 1985-1989, and then undertook an Internship and basic surgical training at St Vincents Hospital, Sydney, in 1990-1992. He then completed unaccredited Neurosurgical training at Royal Hobart Hospital and St Vincents between 1993 and 1995, and Advanced Surgical Training in Neurosurgery at St Vincents Hospital, Royal North Shore Hospital, and the Children’s Hospital, Randwick from 1996-1999.
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He obtained his FRACS and a Neurovascular Fellowship at Royal North Shore Hospital in 2000, and completed a Complex Spinal Surgery Fellowship at the University of Toronto, Canada in 2001. In 2002 Dr Dandie worked as a VMO at John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, and since then at Westmead Hospital, Sydney.
He has been Secretary of the NSW Neurosurgical Association, and a Board member of the Sydney Neuro Oncology Group. In 2007 he became an accredited medical officer at Sydney Adventist Hospital.
Dr Dandie has particular interest in Neuro Oncology and Neurovascular Surgery. He is involved in Molecular and Genetic research into Brain tumours through SNOG (Sydney Neuro Oncology Group) and the Australasian Brain Tumour Tissue Bank.
DR Helen Wheeler is a Medical Oncologist specialising in Primary brain tumours. Dr Wheeler gained her medical degree from the University of Sydney.
After a short stay in the UK, Dr Wheeler returned to Royal North Shore Hospital where she undertook further medical training and laboratory research in the Kolling Institute and eventually took up a position as a consultant Medical Oncologist in 1990.
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Dr Wheeler became interested in primary brain tumours after a group of Neurosurgeons began asking oncologists if they could help in managing their patients with brain tumours. There was little to offer these patients in the early 90’s apart from Surgery and Radiotherapy.
Since the 90’s Dr Wheeler has continued to be involved with both clinical and laboratory research. She has set up numerous collaborations with neuro-oncologists and scientists both nationally and overseas, and works in a multidisciplinary team of clinicians to deliver state of the art therapy to patients.
Dr Wheeler supervises a number of national and international clinical trials run through RNSH. She supervises Medical students, Registrars and a number of laboratory research projects, including those currently in process for brain cancer at the SNOG tumour bank in the Bill Walsh Lab, RNSH.
Dr Wheeler has witnessed the evolution of technology which now allows rapid analysis of tumour genetics, resulting in an explosion in the basic understanding of the underlying abnormalities that contribute to Glioma development and resistance to therapy.
Over the years she has recognised what a struggle it is for both patients and carers to manage with this disease, and how unrecognised their needs are. Dr Wheeler has campaigned for more community services to become available and involved a number of colleagues and health professional to help with this cause. She realises that unless these barriers can be overcome, patient participation in clinical trials – which will ultimately lead to treatment breakthroughs – can be almost impossible, slowing progress enormously.
A/Prof Michael Back is Director of Radiation Oncology for the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre at RNSH.
He subspecialises in Neuro-oncology with clinical and research interests in improving the outcome of patients managed for brain cancer through sophisticated tumour targeting and radiation therapy delivery.
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The aim of the research programme is to develop treatment protocols that can optimise the amount of radiation delivered to a brain tumour, whilst protecting the surrounding normal brain tissue. The benefits of this research is directly translated to the patients managed in daily practice in Northern Sydney.
He also is a visiting consultant in radiation oncology at the Central Coast Cancer Centre and for GenesisCare Private Centres across Sydney. Prior to commencing his practice at RNSH he was a specialist radiation oncologist in Singapore (2001-2007) and Newcastle NSW ( 1996-2000).At both of these prior specialty positions he was integral in establishing a structured approach to brain tumour management, especially during his time in Singapore where he was appointed an Honorary Consultant for Neurosurgery at the National Neuroscience Institute.
A/Prof Back has been a Board Director of SNOG since 2009 and Cancer Council NSW (2011-2014). He sees SNOG as playing an integral role in co-ordinating research for Brain Tumours that occurs in Northern Sydney and then make an impact through leadership and implementation of research breakthroughs across Australasia.
A/Prof Michael Back
MBBS FRANZCR GradDipPsyOnc MBA
Dr Mustafa Khasraw
Dr Mustafa Khasraw is a medical oncologist at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney.
He is also a senior research fellow at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre of The University of Sydney, Clinical Lead for the Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO)…
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He is also a senior research fellow at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre of The University of Sydney, Clinical Lead for the Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO), cancer research fellow at Deakin University with leading role in several clinical and translational laboratory programs.
He completed his medical oncology training at Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) in Sydney and he undertook a subsequent oncology fellowship training in the US at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York. After his return from the US to Australia he worked as a medical oncologist at Geelong and Royal Melbourne Hospitals for 5 years before returned to Sydney and rejoining the team at RNSH.
His fellowship was both in neuro-oncology and in breast cancer. He is a member of several research committees and the coordinating principal investigator for several multi centre clinical trials including being the Australian principal investigator and country liaison for GBM AGILE. He has been the lead author of numerous manuscripts and book chapters and he acts regularly as a reviewer for a number of scientific journals and grant review committees.
John Ballard has extensive experience across a wide range of industries as both a senior executive and a Non-Executive Director.
He was previously Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Southcorp Limited, Managing Director Asia Pacific, United Biscuits Limited…
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He was also Managing Director Snack Foods, Coca-Cola Amatil Limited, a Director of Woolworths Limited and Email Limited, Chairman of Wattyl Limited, a Director of CSR Limited and subsequently Rinker Limited and a Trustee of the Sydney Opera House Trust.
He is currently the Chairman of Elders Limited, a Director of Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited, a Director of Magellan Flagship Fund Limited, a Director of International Ferro Metals Limited, Chairman of the Advisory Funds at Pacific Equity Partners and a Director of the Sydney Neuro Oncology Group.
John is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds an MBA from Columbia University, New York, with a dual major in Marketing and International Business. He graduated Beta Gamma Sigma.
Operations Executive Manager – Sydney Metro Hospitals
Ramsay Health Care
Greg Brown is the Operations Executive Manager of Sydney Metropolitan Hospitals at Ramsay Health Care.
In this role, Greg oversees the operation of seven high acuity hospitals and four mental health facilities within the Sydney Metropolitan region.
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He was appointed Chief Executive Officer at North Shore Private Hospital in 2004 and has been instrumental in the hospital’s growth, which has seen the facility expand to include 104 additional beds and eight additional operating theatres. His successes in this role lead to his appointment as Chief Executive Officer of Castlecrag in 2006 and Hunters Hill Private Hospitals in 2013.
Mr Brown has extensive experience in health care management having worked in the industry for over four decades. Prior to joining Ramsay Health Care in 2002, Greg worked as a General Manager for Alpha Healthcare, responsible for the Radiology, Pathology and General Practice Division. He has also worked at a variety of public and private hospitals throughout New South Wales and Victoria since 1975, giving him an understanding the dynamics of different regions and health care needs.
He is the Chair of the Ramsay Training and Research Committee and the Breath by Breath Foundation. He is also a Director of the Kolling Foundation, the Sydney Neuro Oncology Group, the Lincoln Centre and the Northern Cancer Institute.
Suzane co-founded and remains an active company director in private business involved in property ownership and development both domestically and overseas.
Suzane has most recently spent time fund raising for various worthy causes, most notably SNOG.
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Following the passing of her mother, who succumbed to a Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) and was treated by the SNOG team, she founded the White Pearl Fundraiser specifically for the purpose of raising awareness and funds for SNOG’ s brain tumour research programme.