Emeritus Professor Peter O'Leary

Professor

  • The University of Western Australia (M550), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth

    Australia

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Personal profile

Biography

Professor Peter O’Leary is a clinical scientist who has worked in laboratory medicine, Government policy, academia and clinical research roles which have focused on population screening, genetics and epidemiology.

After graduating from the University of Western Australia in 1973, he joined the Biochemistry Department at Royal Perth Hospital and gained Membership of the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists. In 1984 he undertook a PhD at Monash University in Melbourne and in 1988, was appointed as Head of the Biochemistry Department at King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women. Between 1995–2014 he held the position of Biochemist at the amalgamated Princess Margaret and King Edward Memorial Hospitals and in 1996, he returned to Royal Perth Hospital as Biochemist. In 2014, he was appointed as Consultant Biochemist, at PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, QE2 Medical Centre. Over four decades, he has contributed to discovery and translation in clinical biochemistry practice, particularly in the fields of newborn, prenatal and cancer population screening. In 2010, he was inducted as a Foundation Fellow of the Faculty of Science, Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia.

In 2001, Dr O’Leary was recruited to the WA Health Department as the inaugural Director, Office of Population Health Genomics, where led policy development and evaluation of national health initiatives such as cancer genetic testing, prenatal screening for fetal anomalies, newborn bloodspot screening, organ donation and genetic research ethics. He managed the State Government Health strategy that steered the national mandatory fortification of food with folic acid to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in babies, biobanking of human DNA for research and the Register for Developmental Anomalies.

In 2011 Peter O’Leary was appointed to Curtin University as Professor and Deputy Director, Centre for Population Health Research in the Faculty of Health Sciences. In this role, he supervised postgraduate students and conducted external consultancies for the New Zealand Department of Health and the West Australian Government. As a Chief Investigator, he collaborated with colleagues on grants awarded in excess of $11 million from the Health Department WA, LotteryWest, NHMRC and the Cancer Council of WA. In 2013, he was appointed Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences and during 2017 - 2018, Director of the Curtin-Monash Accident Research Centre. In 2019, he was appointed to the Australian Research Council’s Medical Services Advisory Group to advise the National Competitive Grants Program Eligibility Committee and as a reviewer for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Genomics Health Futures Mission Projects – Ethical, Legal and Social Issues stream.  

Between 2014-2019, Professor O’Leary was Chair of the Human Research Ethics Committee at Curtin University.  He was appointed as a  member of the Australian Health Ethics Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council (2018-24) and was appointed as an Emeritus Professor at Curtin University. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Western Australia and in 2019, he was appointed Chair of UWA Human Research Ethics Committee.  

Education/Academic qualification

Clinical Biochemistry, PhD, The University of Western Australia

Award Date: 12 Apr 1988

Biochemistry, Bachelor of Science, Faculty of Science

Award Date: 19 Apr 1974

External positions

Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Health Science, Curtin University

2019 → …

NHMRC Australian Health Ethics Committee

18 Sep 201830 Jun 2024

Australian Research Council, Medical Services Advisory Group.

20182022

Clinical Biochemist, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA

1977 → …

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