DIRECTOR PROFILES

Dr Ray Cook

Dr Cook

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.

Dr Biggs

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.

Dr Biggs
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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 Wheeler

Dr Wheeler

Associate Professor

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.

Michael Back

Associate Professor

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.

Michael Back
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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

Medical Oncologist

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

Director

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…

John Ballard
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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.

Suzane Peponis-Brisimis

Suzane Peponis-Brisimis

Director

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.

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