Tania Sorrell farewell messages

June 22, 2022

Video Transcript

Speakers: John Perfect, Professor, Duke University. Merrilyn Walton, Professor, University of Sydney. Bruce Robinson , Professor Emeritus , University of Sydney . Dominic Dwyer, Professor, University of Sydney. Jeremy McAnulty , Executive Director Heath Protection NSW , NSW Ministry of Health . Duncan Ivison, Professor, University of Sydney. David Ellis, Professor, University of Adelaide. Cheryl Jones, Professor, University of Sydney. Lyn Gilbert, Professor, University of Sydney. Sharon Lewin, Professor/Director, Doherty Institute, University of Melbourne

Prof Tania Sorrell

Westmead: 1979 - 2022

A collection of well-wishes from the Infectious Disease community

Lyn Gilbert: Hello. My name is Lyn Gilbert. I thought I should start by introducing myself to those of you who don't know me. I was Director of Microbiology at Westmead for nearly 25 years. And so I worked very closely with Tania as part of the leadership team at the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology or CIDM And we've had a very close personal relationship for more than 30 years Like me, but a few years later, Tania took up infectious diseases at a time in the 1970s when it was widely believed that ID had been all but defeated by vaccines and antimicrobials. It was time to close the book. Well, we all know how that turned out. In the 1970s, immunology was the new specialty du Jour. And indeed, Tania came to ID via a doctorate in immunology at the University of Adelaide, but from there she wisely switched to ID via macrophages and fungi and an ID fellowship in the United States. She was recruited to Westmead by Professor Peter Castaldi in 1979, where she set up one of the first combined academic service ID departments in Australia. During the next 40 years, she was widely recognized for her research, clinical teaching and administrative skills, not only at Westmead and in Western Sydney, but also in the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the University of Sydney. She became internationally recognised as a doyen of medical mycology and more recently, a pioneer in emerging infectious diseases. In 1992, she established CIDM which has remained one of the most truly integrated clinical laboratory, academic and service units in the country, despite repeated administrative decisions that could have fragmented it, had Tania not lobbied successfully to keep it together in spirit, if not strictly administratively. In 2010 she established the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity. Now the Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases, which is one of a small number of so called flagships at the University of Sydney. Sydney ID includes a surprisingly diverse group of disciplines that undertake ID-related research and Tania has been tireless over the past 11 years in bringing together senior academics and early and mid career researchers into a truly collaborative, multidisciplinary enterprise, very capably aided in recent years by Ben Marais as Co-Director Tania has led several NHMRC funded Centers of Research Excellence over the over the years, including the very timely in emerging infectious diseases or CREID, which was the predecessor of the Australian Partnership on Preparedness Research on Infectious Diseases now, fortunately abbreviated to APPRISE. Tania is one of the leadership team that has driven a significant proportion of the research that has informed Australia's response to COVID And of course, she has also attracted numerous personal accolades over her long career, including being named one of Australia's all time high achievers in health and medical research in 2013, but perhaps Tania's most notable quality is her loyalty and support for the institutions and people she believes in. I know probably more than anyone how much time, emotion and negotiating skills she's applied to lobbying for funds, recruiting rising stars to CIDM, Sydney ID, writing grant applications, including helping many colleagues with theirs and mentoring and supervising students and trainees, many of whom have gone on to positions of influence in their own careers. It's that unselfish promotion of other people's work and support for colleagues that has been one of her greatest contributions to ID. So how to finish any more personal testimony would probably be inappropriate. The fact that she and I have successfully negotiated and both thrived on, I think a close personal and professional relationship for over 30 years says a lot, at least about her tolerance and generosity. I can only end by saying thank you Tania for your friendship and support over such a long time.

John Perfect: Well this is my pleasure Tania to do this introduction of from my perspective on your retirement. First of all it seems like we're getting old. I'm doing a lot of these more than I wanted to ever, but it's my pleasure to interact with you for the last probably 30 years or so. and I want to make an emphasis that much of this is about the memories, the memories of being with you at Westmead, eating downtown at Sydney at night or the Sydney Bridge, a place that I actually had to actually climb, which for a person who didn't like heights wasn't great or taking a boat ride with you out into the harbour and in the city harbour and also working with you on the ICAAC committee. You taught me a lot about that committee and I think over time we were able to make great progress for fungal infections and finally it's just been my pleasure for many years to interact with you on the guidelines. You are just a truely insightful person with great energy to help the community in fungal infections

Cheryl Jones: So Tania Sorrell, how can you capture the incredible impact she's had on the infectious diseases and microbiology community on the university and on many people like myself in a few words. I think of Tania and I think of what Eleanor Roosevelt said, which is "a great leader inspires people in themselves" and Tania, her success has been about really getting others to be the best they can be on a personal level. She has been an incredible friend and colleague and mentor in our senior university roles as Deputy Deans, sharing an office and throughout all of my career, she's an amazing inspirational woman, a very very smart mind and a very wise diplomat as well. And Tania wishing you the very best for your next journey and looking forward to being part of that as your friend. Thank you.

Merrilyn Walton: Hello, Tania. I wish I could be with you today to celebrate and acknowledge your stellar career. You're a formidable academic who is brimful of ideas, cares about the world and those with less. You value teamwork as well as respecting everybody on the team. And not only are you a tenacious researcher and leader, but one who always acts with grace. Many today will be outlined in your many achievements but from my perspective, your leadership in the one health space has been inspirational. Not only for me but for the next generation of researchers. I am currently in Bougainville working on a one health project, a journey that you introduced me to many years ago when we were on a delegation to Sulawesi. I know that you will be missed, but I also know that your legacy will endure. I wish the day every success as I wish you an exhilarating ride into the next stage of your life.

Dominic Dwyer: Look, thanks very much for the opportunity to say a few words. I'm sorry that I'm overseas and can't be there, but I hope it's a really good day and I think it will be and I think everybody their deeply appreciates and acknowledges the contributions you've made to Westmead to infectious diseases in general, to the university, but also in all of our own personal development and I think it's a career that you should obviously feel rightly proud of. I remember coming to Westmead late last century, bouncing down Parramatta road from St Vincent's Hospital as a newly minted physician trainee and being nervous about coming to the then unknown brand new Westmead Hospital. But a couple of years of training in infectious diseases B5A and A4C clearly made an impact in terms of understanding how to do good clinical medicine and how to work in a busy hospital environment. I think the physical results of this have now been the development of the new infectious diseases in biocontainment ward in the new building and of course the development over a long time of Sydney ID will be lasting acknowledgment of your contributions in particular that of delivering results of of a lot of work and investment. But I think more importantly, at least from my point of view, is having the opportunity to watch the way you've worked, the way you get to the nub of the problem, the way you invite everybody's opinion, the way you develop a consensus and the way you deliver an answer or response. that ultimately is successful has really been a model for me, and I'm sure for many others in in the room today, I think also what's important is that it's not just something for my group of people, people, my age group, if you like. But this is going to be a legacy that will continue down in generations of people in infectious diseases at Westmead and also the university. And indeed it will influence the way all of the, the trainees and the doctors and the scientists and so on that have that have worked under you and gone off to different locations. So for that, I can only say thank you. I know you won't be stopping working completely. I know you'll still be around for something, but certainly from my own personal view, I'd really like to thank you for the way you've allowed the hospital to develop. But more importantly, allowed the way for for me and others to develop. And and for that, I'm eternally grateful. So I have a great day, enjoy a glass of wine or three and relax in knowing the achievements that you've made to, to all of us. So thanks very much

Bruce Robinson : I'd really like to join the chorus of people who, I'm sure are thanking Tania for her enormous contributions to the faculty. She was a tremendous Deputy Dean to me, helping to run the faculty. And the way in which she took on the leadership of the Marie Bashir Institute for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases gives me great joy to look at that now and see what's been achieved.

Jeremy McAnulty : Good morning Tania Sorrell has been a really good ally of New South Wales Health over many years. When I first started working in public Health, Tania was instrumental in leading a number of our expert panels, Infectious Disease Advisory Group Panel to look after people who are potentially placing other people at risk of infectious diseases panel, looking at infection control events and a source of great advice in outbreaks and threats over the years that's affected New South Wales. So I'd really like to wish Tania well. And thank you Tania for your years of good advice, goodwill and friendship. I really appreciated it. You've set us on a good, um, good path over the years and your legacy will live on. Thanks very much.

Duncan Ivison: Hi Duncan Ivison here, I was Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Sydney between 2015 - 2022. And I first met Tania, I think in my first week. I think Tania was the first multidisciplinary director who came to see me, which says something about Tania's shrewd political instincts and warm personal style and it's been an absolute pleasure to work with her over these almost seven years. And when I think about talking about infectious diseases in 2015, how different the world we live in now? Although Tania and Ben and Eddie and others would have told me in 2015 that we were due for a major pandemic and we needed to prepare, we needed to invest and they were completely and utterly convincing and I'm glad we were persuaded. Tania really is, I think, one of the great leaders in our university community, she certainly was the most charming leader when asking for more funding, which is not something one can say about every uh university leader in the research space, not to say that they're not all passionate, committed people doing amazing work. But Tania was certainly the most elegant in her presentation and advocacy for support for not only the Marie Bashir Institute, but for great research more generally at the University of Sydney. And one thing I have to say about Tania is she was an amazing collaborator across all the faculties and disciplines and she was a great collaborator indeed, when I was Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, I guess when I first engaged with Tania, she was someone who really saw research as a deeply collective enterprise, a team game in the true sense of the word. So I'm delighted to honour Tania on this remarkable stage in her career. I know it's only the beginning of the next great episode in her extraordinarily distinguished and significant contribution not just the University of Sydney, not just to Westmead and really not just to New South Wales, but to the global infectious disease community and the global research community more generally. So, congratulations, Tania. It's been a great pleasure to work with you and I hope we get to work together again in the not too distant future. Congratulations.

David Ellis: Hi Tania, congratulations on a stellar career. You have taken mycology in Australia and elsewhere to a whole new level. In fact, Australian research on cryptococcus and the careers of many young scientists would not have happened without you. Personally, I've enjoyed working with you and I thank you for your support and help over the years, especially your friendship. I hope you have a great retirement. Good luck.

Sharon Lewin: Hi, my name is Sharon Lewin. I'm director of the Doherty Institute and I've known Tania for a very long time. She's had a significant impact on me personally actually because I looked at her as the doyen of academic infectious diseases and when I was a infectious diseases registrar, I kind of looked at Tania thinking I want to have a career like hers and she inspired someone like me to pursue both research and clinical medicine in infectious diseases. Now over the last seven years or so, I've worked really closely with Tania largely through APPRISE. Um She has been a fantastic contributor to APPRISE as a member of our executive and a great source of wise advice. If I could say one thing about Tania, she knows how to use the phone effectively for relationships. She just picks up the phone and sorts out an issue straightaway. Well, many other people I know might let it fester away on email, but she is a wonderful collaborator, a great colleague and she's going to be greatly missed in her retirement though I don't actually really believe she's going to retire

John Perfect: Okay Tania So Tania, so I've the memories, that's part of what you think about in all the years and interactions we've had. But while I want to really say it was my pleasure, my honor to be one of your collaborators, your partners in this work because you are a major major influence on fungal infections worldwide. Ah and I feel that this maybe retirement, but I look at it as you're just going to reboot. You know, you're going to reboot for the next challenges and it's my hope and pleasure that I can have some interaction with you when you meet those new challenges that you are starting.

Thank you from your friends and colleagues in Infectious Diseases

1979 - 2022

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