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.
A number of Australian research fellows have trained with Rosemary, including Drs Adriene Lee, Helen Saunders and Jenny Cahill. In addition, 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 and Dr Yi Shi Wang from Singapore.
The group has contributed a large number of publications to the international literature on occupational dermatology.
ODREC personnel, currently Rosemary and Jenny Cahill, also run the fortnightly Occupational Dermatology Clinic at the Institute, where workers suspected of occupational dermatitis are assessed with patch testing.
Almost 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. Amanda, computer programmer Lesley McMillan and Kath Frowen have recently developed the new 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.
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 has coordinated monthly meetings since 1989, and the Australasian College of Dermatologists, where she has been Chair of the Victorian Faculty.
ODREC is funded by research grants and donations.