Connected Conversations | Danny Liew

An illustrious career in medical education and clinical epidemiology led Danny Liew to Adelaide to take up joint appointments as a consultant physician at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and at the University as Dean of Medicine and Head of Adelaide Medical School. Arriving in January 2022 amid pandemic-related disruptions meant Danny had to hit the ground running… and he hasn’t stopped since! In the moments Danny isn’t working, you can find him cheering on his beloved Western Bulldogs, adding to his encyclopaedic knowledge of sports trivia, plotting road trips around Australia and visiting beautiful beaches.

Danny Liew

Please tell us your name and a little bit about yourself.

I’m Danny Liew, and I’m very lucky and honoured to be the Dean of Medicine and Head of the Adelaide Medical School. I also work part-time as a consultant physician in General Medicine at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. All my career, I have combined working in universities and in hospitals. I work in medical education and my research interests are in clinical epidemiology, health services research and health economics. I’m grateful to the pandemic for making the world realise what an epidemiologist is (No, not a skin specialist!). I enjoy teaching and clinical work not only for the rewards they bring, but because they keep me grounded. Students and patients represent the ‘why’—our purpose.

Tell us a bit about your time at the University.

I came to Adelaide from Melbourne in January 2022, arriving a few weeks earlier than planned to help on the COVID unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. It was chaos. Our hospitals were struggling with unexpectedly high COVID cases and the University with clinical placement of health students and its pandemic policies. But the chaos provided great insight into the two organisations I was new to. I was pleased to find out that I had great colleagues and our relationship with the health sector is fundamentally strong. Nonetheless, the University’s relationship with the health sector still needs work, and strengthening this has been a priority of the Adelaide Medical School since I’ve arrived.

What has been your journey to get where you are today? Have you made deviations?

I undertook undergraduate medical training at Monash University (before the war), then specialist training at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. A PhD at Monash University followed. Prior to Adelaide, I worked at Monash University and the University of Melbourne, as well as the Alfred, Royal Melbourne and St Vincent’s Hospitals. My two major deviations were an Honours year in Perth (hello beaches) and a gap year after my second postgraduate year (PGY2) to backpack around the world (hello beaches). There have been numerous minor deviations.

What has been your career highlight, to date?

My current appointments of course! Regular highlights: witnessing the success of colleagues whose careers I have helped shape (in a small way). Not a career highlight per se, but the COVID pandemic served as a stark reminder of how important it is for health professionals and researchers to stand by science, be courageous, assume leadership when required, and communicate properly with the rest of the community. I hope we have learnt the many lessons on offer because there will be other pandemics.

Danny Liew

What do you love most about working at the University of Adelaide?

Working alongside very clever and infectiously-passionate people.

Who (or what) inspires you?

My dear Mum, an alumnus of the Adelaide Medical School (before the other war). Humble, hard-working, selfless and caring. Also, people who stay positive and dedicated to the cause, despite significant adversity.

What is the best decision you have ever made? Or—if it’s more interesting!—the worst?

Worst decision: as a young child, swapping allegiance from the Geelong Cats (inherited team) to the Western Bulldogs. Many years of disappointment elapsed before this turned out to be the best decision—in 2016.

What is your favourite thing about living in Adelaide?

Community-minded, convenient, cultured, culinary, cool. Adelaide is a secret probably best kept! When not working, I spend time with loved ones, sleep a lot, eat a lot and exercise (somewhat a lot). The two places people have consistently suggested I visit are the Flinders Ranges and Kangaroo Island. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to go. A few years ago, I drove from Perth to Melbourne with a couple of mates. Brilliant experience. We live in a beautiful country. Next road trip is Adelaide to Darwin.

Danny Liew

What’s something that people are surprised to find out about you?

I have an identical twin. He’s very good looking by the way.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years’ time?

Hello beaches.

If you could time travel, when and where would you go?

North Balwyn, VIC, 1980. I’d say to the excited young fella with the new Bulldogs scarf and beanie: “2016”. Then go forward every couple of years with a reminder and some words of encouragement.


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