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Defence Health

ADF Military Surgery

Australian Defence Force Chair of Military Surgery and Medicine

The Australian Defence Force Chair of Military Surgery and Medicine is a Defence-Industry Partnership established in 2011 as a joint venture between the University of Queensland and the Australian Defence Force. Integrated within the Burns, Trauma and Critical Care Research Centre of the University of Queensland, the roles of the ADF Chair are:

  • to lead the development of a clinical research program in trauma medicine and surgery relevant to the Australian Defence Force; and
  • to guide the translation of modern trauma research into clinical practice within the ADF.


The aims of the ADF Chair of Military Surgery and Medicine coincide with those of the University of Queensland Burns, Trauma and Critical Care Research Centre:

  • to improve both the survival and outcome of patients by conducting high quality research in the area of Burns, Trauma, and Critical Care, particularly in relation to military trauma;
  • to provide a research-driven evidence base that informs clinical practice and policy in Burns, Trauma, and Critical Care;
  • to establish local, national and international collaboration in these areas thus increasing research opportunities and productivity; and
  • to enhance the research training and knowledge base of Australian Defence Force and other postgraduate students and staff in these clinical areas.

The three major themes of the ADF Professor of Military Surgery and Medicine's research are coagulopathy and blood transfusion in severe trauma, the management of the cognitive impairment that often accompanies severe trauma and critical illness, and the improvement of trauma systems design. Key research partners include the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society Clinical Trials Group and the Queensland Ambulance Service, with in-principle agreement from the major international military trauma registries to collaborate on projects of mutual interest.


The research work of the ADF Professor of Military Surgery and Medicine is almost exclusively conducted in civilian hospitals, collaborating civilian laboratories, or using civilian registry data. Consequently, the results are just as applicable to trauma management in civilian populations as they are to the ADF. All research is funded by competitive civilian peer-reviewed research grants.

Major research projects underway or in advanced stages of development include:

  • Clinical trials of cryopreserved platelets, cold-stored platelets, the storage duration of transfused red blood cells, dexmedetomidine as a neuroprotective sedative, and erythropoietin as an inflammatory modulator in major trauma.
  • Observational studies of the effect of duration of storage of platelets prior to transfusion, and of coagulopathy in trauma patients including laboratory analysis of the degradation of the endothelial glycocalyx.
  • Laboratory (in vitro) analysis of the effects of transfusion of various modified blood products.

Minor research projects that introduce Defence and civilian clinicians to research methodology are also conducted; for example, in the past few years, studies of the predictors of successful outcome in traumatic cardiac arrest, associations of needless repeated CT scans after transfer to major hospitals, an audit of the retrieval rate of vena cava filters in critical illness, and the incidence of pyroglutamic acidosis in critical illness.

Research opportunities

The main teaching responsibility of the ADF Chair is to provide research opportunities for members of the Australian Defence Force. Projects suitable for work towards part-time University of Queensland PhDs, MPhil, and MBBS(Hons) degrees, and specialist FRACS/FACEM/FANZCA/FCICM qualifications, are all on offer. Major clinical trials are seldom suitable for research training degrees, but partnerships provide opportunities for work with registries of patients with trauma or critical illness, and laboratory work with preclinical models of disease. Several ADF members based outside SE Queensland are pursuing their research with local resources and data, co-supervised by the ADF Professor of Military Surgery and Medicine. Furthermore, several ADF members are undertaking internal Defence quality improvement research with advice from the ADF Chair. All ADF members must have the approval of their chain-of-command to engage in research work, and funding must generally be obtained from sources external to the ADF.

There are also opportunities for researchers with no military connections to work on trauma-related projects within the UQ Burns, Trauma and Critical Care Research Centre.


For further information

The Defence Professor of Military Surgery and Medicine
Level 9, Health Sciences Building
Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital
Herston QLD 4029 Australia and