Making a lasting difference to health care

Dr Chen Peh

Dr Chen Peh

From the bedsides of the Royal Adelaide Hospital to the rice fields of Myanmar, renal physician Dr Chen Peh is committed to relieving human suffering.

As project leader for the Myanmar Snakebite Project, Chen is working to improve the lives of poor farmers in Myanmar who are suffering and dying from kidney failure brought on by the snake bite of the Russell’s viper. He has assembled a team of specialists to help, advise and provide solutions to their Myanmar colleagues.

The project, supported by Australian Government (DFAT) funding and administered through the University, has enabled Myanmar health professionals to come to the University and the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) for short-term skills training.

Chen also makes personal contributions towards the Myanmar support fund to help with the purchase of solar-powered fridges to refrigerate anti venom in rural areas. Back in Adelaide, his team are developing a comprehensive approach for its distribution and working on a longer term solution to build supplies of freeze-dried anti venom that will help prolong its shelf life.

“The theme that underpins everything I do is to try to make a lasting difference and to relieve human suffering, be it here or overseas,” says Chen.

“The thought that what we are doing now might improve someone’s life – someone who I’ve never met, is very inspiring.

“If we can leave little footprints for our Myanmar colleagues to follow, our project might lead to sustainable changes that will be long lasting after our departure – that thought itself is very awe inspiring and motivates me no end to try.”

Coming to Australia with his family from Penang in the late 1970s as a high school student, Chen went on to study medicine at the University of Adelaide. He attained his fellowship through the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, completed a PhD in immunology at Flinders University and a Howard Florey postdoctoral fellowship at Oxford.

Chen’s connection to the University of Adelaide has always remained strong and aside from his daily work as a physician and manager of the Renal Research Laboratory at the RAH, Chen is also a Clinical Associate Professor at the University, teaching fifth and sixth year medicine students and supervising PhD students.

Chen’s support also extends to the new Health and Medical Sciences Building which he has generously donated towards, helping the University in its quest to transform health treatment, training and discovery.

“I’m a product of the University of Adelaide and I appreciate that the development of the new Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building will define medicine for the University for the next century and beyond,” he says.

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