|9 Sep 2021|
|Alumnus of the Year|
Matthew Georgiades, class of 2009 was awarded the Alumnus of the Year award in 2016 for his work in improving the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease. We caught up with Matthew to see how this research is progressing and what the future might be like for him.
Matthew attended William Clarke College for his secondary years 2004 – 2009. For Matthew, his fondest memories involved playing soccer on the oval at lunch time using shoes and backpacks as goal posts and telling jokes or singing songs on the bus to the weekly soccer matches. Matthew also has great memories of his Year 11 and 12 classes – from overzealous science experiments which left permanent imprints on the science lab ceilings, to eating baguettes and cheese in French class, Matt appreciated how the teachers made his classes enjoyable.
Since leaving the College, Matthew has attained a degree in Advanced Neuroscience, completed Medical Training and is the final stages of submitting his PhD thesis, while working as a junior doctor. The focus of Matthew's research has been the complex, disabling and poorly understood symptom of Parkinson’s disease called Freezing of gait. This devastating symptom causes patients to suddenly lose the ability to walk, with their feet feeling as if they are glued to the floor. It often leading to falls and injury. Matthew’s work is being recognised worldwide with publications in high impact clinical neuroscience journals. He was invited to present his work at the World Parkinson’s Congress and the International Neuromodulation Society in 2019. Matthew has also been recognised with the prestigious Royal Prince Alfred Hospital President’s prize for Research in 2019 and the Bieronski Burczyk Foundation Prize for Research in 2020.
Once Matthew's PhD thesis is completed, he has a very exciting project lined up working with a team to build on his previous work to develop an intelligent device that will be able to help patients with Parkinson’s disease and Freezing of gait. In future years (depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic) this might even culminate in overseas travel to collaborate with other research labs. Matthew is currently halfway through his Physician’s training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and will be sitting his physician’s exams next year. After this he will be able to begin his specialist training as a Neurologist. Matthew is also looking forward to continuing to expand his teaching and mentorship role as a Clinical Associate Lecturer with the University of Sydney Medical Program. He is also excited about the growth of several quality improvement projects he is overseeing as the Chair of the Sydney Local Health District Innovations Committee and through his involvement with the COVID-19 Response Committee. They include the rational use of healthcare resources, minimising the environmental impact and using technology to improve the quality and safety of healthcare delivery. Matthew is also keen to take his skills to rural areas where they have a great need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Matthew along with many of his healthcare worker colleagues. There has been an overhaul of staffing and resources to deal with the pandemic and to keep up with the situation as new variants emerge It has added an unforeseen layer of complexity to pretty much everything Matthew is doing, whether it be talking to a quarantined patient over the phone or through a glass window, looking after unwell patients with COVID-19 and supporting and counselling families who haven’t been allowed to visit their terminally ill loved ones. Thankfully, compared to other countries we have been extremely fortunate in Australia as a whole, but there have been many people and many families affected both directly and indirectly by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amongst those impacted by the pandemic are the charities that Matthew supported and who received the Alumnus of the Year funds in 2016. Fundraising events for Parkinson’s Australia were severely affected by the COVID-19 situation as the foucs has turned to other areas of health. Pleasingly though, the other charity Matthew's award supported - the Australian Himalayan Foundation has made considerable progress on the Classroom Rebuild Project, and attention is now focused on training local teachers in remote communities. Matthew wanted to support this charity after surviving the earthquake that hit this area in 2015.
When reflecting on lessons learnt at William Clarke College, Matthew says that the appreciation for the importance of pursuing your interests and passions wholeheartedly and with discipline and faith was the biggest lesson. This needs to be done whilst maintaining a good balance, having fun and remaining grateful for what we have. Lastly, to remember to give back and pay it forward to those who need.
We are so proud of Matthew’s achievements and will watch with interest further developments in his Parkinson’s disease research and work with the Australian Himalayan Foundation.
For more information on Parkinson’s disease visit https://www.parkinsons.org.au/
For more information on the Australian Himalayan Foundation visit https://www.australianhimalayanfoundation.org.au/
Jordan's journey since graduating from the College has been one of great struggle with Mental Health illness. Through this personal experience Jordan … More...
A self confessed 'tough student to teach,' Matt and his family are now teaching some of the poorest and most disadvantaged children in the world in th… More...