In this issue, HCV Next asks five questions of Adrian J. Dunlop, PhD, MBBS, conjoint associate professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle in Australia.
Dunlop received a bachelor of medicine, and bachelor of surgery from the University of Melbourne before going on to complete a graduate diploma in epidemiology and biostatistics from that same institution. He completed his PhD at the University of New South Wales.
In addition to his current appointment at the University of Newcastle, he also serves as the area director and addiction medicine senior staff specialist at Hunter New England Local Health District, Drug & Alcohol Clinical Services, and is the chief addiction medicine specialist for the Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Office at the NSW Ministry of Health.
Awards include the Clinical Leader of the Year at the HNE Health District Staff Achievement Awards and a Churchill Fellowship to study addiction and pregnancy treatment in the U.S., Canada, UK and Europe. Dunlop has conducted research that led to Australian opiate treatment guidelines, guidelines for treating drug use in pregnancy and clinical interventions for cannabis, amphetamines, opiate and nicotine users.
What are your hobbies outside of practicing medicine?
My main hobby is music. I play guitar, bass, mandolin and banjo. At the moment I am trying to learn some pedal steel. This has become a family hobby, as I am teaching my daughters to play, too.
What was the defining moment that led you to your field?
When I was a hospital intern, a patient who had overdosed asked me for help after the naloxone had been given. I had no idea what to do nor did anyone in the emergency department, so I asked around and eventually found a drug treatment center for the patient. A few years later, I ended up working there; that was back in 1995. I haven’t left the field since.
What advice would you offer a student in medical school today?
I would tell them to consider adding addiction medicine to their career options. It is still a developing field with lots of possibilities that span drug treatment and talking therapies, public health and lots of research possibilities. I find people are generally very collaborative, and other specialties are keen to talk given the multiple co-morbidities that exist.
Have you ever been fortunate enough to witness or to have been part of medical history in the making? If so, please explain.
I think that’s happening right now with HCV treatment. We are living in a time when it is possible to eradicate the disease. That doesn’t happen often.
What’s up next for you?
I will be studying medication treatments for amphetamine and cannabis problems. One current study is a randomized controlled trial of nabiximols (Sativex, GW Pharmaceuticals) for cannabis dependence. Later this year, we’ll also start a randomized controlled trial of lysdexamfetamine for methamphetamine dependence.