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Professor Christian Hamilton-Craig



Winner of the Richard Slaughter Prize for Best Clinical Research 2014

Translating cutting edge technology to direct patient benefits is the drive behind Christian Hamilton-Craig’s clinical research. As a cardiologist, Christian finds new cardiac imaging techniques essential to getting the best overall results for his patients. “I’m interested the application of new technology to clinical practice,” he says. “How can we get better quality, more reproducible images to answer the questions? It is translational research. The feedback loop is immediate.”

Christian’s research focuses on magnetic resonance imaging and ultrahigh field magnet 7.0 Tesla scanning. The Prince Charles Hospital has Australia’s only exercise bike MRI, opened by Tour de France champion Cadel Evans who also participated in a research study. “MRI is non-invasive, has no radiation and is safe,” Christian says. “We’re at the absolute forefront globally for MRI. That is the legacy of Dr Richard Slaughter who started the Centre of Excellence in Cardiac Imaging in 2002, with the support of a Smart State grant from the Qld State government.”

That allowed TPCH to become the biggest cardiac imaging centre in Australasia and led to a state level partnership between Queensland and Washington State in the USA. Christian received the first grant from the Queensland-Washington Transpacific agreement. “It’s a visionary grant, it may be small money but has a big impact for creating pathways for capacity building,” he says. “I am still on staff at the University of Washington.”

Strategic knowledge partnerships are one of Christian’ passions. He’s been building and maintaining informal knowledge partnerships since he took a year out of medical training to do his research Honours at Cambridge. He returned home and finished his cardiology specialisation then a clinical PhD which took him to the US and Europe for one year each.

“I learnt a lot about the business of research and leveraging grants to build capacity,” he says. “Research must have an other-focused motivation and be collaborative and inclusive. That doesn’t mean I don’t do all the work myself, but I bring people in to get involved.”  The key he has found is to diversify without being fragmented.

Despite being a self-described cliché – “balding middle-aged husband and father of two with a golden retriever and a white picket fence” – Christian’s focus is on forging new paths and creating new knowledge. His philosophy is to jump in and give things a rip.  “I could see all these new technologies coming into medicine. How do you know what’s real and what’s spin? You have to test them out for yourself,” he says. “It’s important to engage positively with industry. My research has been enabled by early access to technology in my clinical practice. That’s immediately beneficial to my patients.”

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