Dr Margaret O'Leary
(BSC (Hons), PhD (Organic Chemistry), Hospital Scientist, Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology )

DepartmentClinical Pharmacology and Toxicology
Research AreasDiagnostics / Screening, Therapy and Treatment
Research TopicsSide Effects / Adverse Reactions / Poisoning, Snake Venoms and Antivenoms
Research TypesLaboratory Research

Dr Margaret O'Leary has been at Calvary Mater Newcastle since 2003, employed by the Australian Snakebite Project (ASP).  This project gathers samples from envenomed patients from more than 120 hospitals all over Australia, with the aim of collating the data, in a centralised location, so as to get a better overall picture of the effects of the different snake venoms.

Getting to know you

When did you start doing research?

 After a basic BSc, I was drawn into Hons and then a PhD at the University of WA.

What research projects are you currently working on? 

The detection and effect of venoms in patient samples, and the interaction of venoms with antivenoms.

What research achievement are you most proud of?

Developing simple microplate turbidimetric methods for measuring clotting times and detecting venom-antivenom complexes.  The discovery of immunocomplexes in patient samples.  The revelation that antivenoms are not monospecific, but mixtures.  The use of antivenom to assess background in patient samples.

What inspires you? 

Classical music.  My indefatigable boss, Geoff Isbister.  Mentoring students.  The thought that "the truth is out there ... somewhere".

What did you do before coming to work at Calvary Mater Newcastle? 

After post-doctorate at University of Sussex, a hotch-potch of short-term, temporary, contract and free-lance work, as chemist, lecturer, researcher on various projects, fitted in while raising two daughters.

What has helped you the most in your research at Calvary Mater Newcastle?

Pleasant working conditions, few other commitments, a general positive attitude among the staff.

Who are your main collaborators at Calvary Mater Newcastle?

Other laboratory and non-laboratory researchers, in Clinical Toxicology and the Hunter Haematology Group.

What did you do before you became a researcher?

Nothing interesting.

What made you decide to do research?

It's a challenge, to solve a problem.

What do you do to relax? 

Cycling, cryptic crosswords. 



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