Dialog Box

Skin Health Institute

Occupational Dermatology Research and Education Centre (ODREC)

The Occupational Dermatology Research and Education Centre (ODREC) was established at the Skin Health Institute, Victoria in March 2001 by dermatologist and occupational physician Associate Professor Rosemary Nixon AM, and patch test nurse and researcher Kath Frowen.

In September 2001, ODREC received seed funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing to operate as the National Collaborative Centre for Research and Education into Occupational Contact Dermatitis until 2006. This enabled the creation of a small research group active in the area of occupational contact dermatitis.

Rosemary has trained Research Fellows most years since 2000, when Dr Adriene Lee was employed. Dr Lee has recently been appointed as President-Elect of the Australasian College of Dermatologists! Dr Jenny Cahill was ODREC Research Fellow in 2004.

A number of overseas dermatologists have sought specialized training in occupational dermatology at the Institute. These have included Drs Praneet Sajjachareonpong from Thailand, Dr Jason Williams, from the UK, Dr Danny Slodownik from Israel, Dr Yi Shi Wang from Singapore, Dr Sarah Grace Tan from the Phillipines, Dr Pranee Kasemsarn from Thailand, Dr Ursula Flury from Switzerland and Dr Hiromi Mizutani from Japan.

The group has contributed a large number of publications to the international literature on occupational dermatology, over 150 to date.

ODREC personnel, Rosemary, Jenny and Adriene run the Occupational Dermatology Clinic at the Institute, where workers suspected of occupational dermatitis are assessed with patch testing. Over 4000 workers have been assessed to date. Amanda Palmer is not only the nurse in charge of patch testing in the clinic, but also has qualifications in health promotion and is the Manager of ODREC. Amanda, computer programmer Lesley McMillan and previously Kath Frowen developed the Patchcams program, which is a web-based clinic management/data collection tool. Amanda also facilitates the Contact Allergen Bank, whereby dermatologists can order pre-made patch tests to facilitate patch testing. This initiative has sparked a huge national interest in patch testing, and has facilitated testing by dermatologists in rural and remote areas. 

ODREC has taken a lead role in educating dermatologists and trainees in contact dermatitis, and runs regular Patch Test Training Days. In addition, the team have been very active during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing advice to healthcare workers and hospitals on contact dermatitis to hand sanitisers and masks.

Associate Professor Rosemary Nixon is a member of the prestigious International Contact Dermatitis Research Group, and in 2009 was designated Eminent Scientist of the Year in Dermatology and Occupational Health. She also plays an active role in the Skin Health Institute, where she was appointed President in late 2019. Previously she coordinated the monthly Update meetings from 1989 to 2015. She was an examiner for the Australasian College of Dermatologists 2006-10 and Chair of the Victorian Faculty from 2010-2. She received the highest award of College, the Silver Medal, in 2017 and Membership of the Order of Australia (AM), also in 2017.

ODREC is self-funded from research grants, donations, our Contact Allergen Bank, consultancy work and our educational activities.

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