Prior to joining the Thrombosis Australia Advisory Panel, Dr Jamie Price worked in haematology and oncology for over 30 years, with a special interest in paediatric haematology, bleeding disorders, and thrombotic disorders. One of his major objectives was in the prophylaxis of haemophilia and the preservation of joint function in haemophiliac patients. We asked Dr Price some questions to highlight his background and extensive expertise in the field of haematology.

Where did you do your medical training?

My undergraduate training was at the University of WA in a class of 120 first year students competing for the 60 available places in second year (no pressure!). I managed to complete my 6 years of training and graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MB.BS) at the tender age of 23.

How did your career in medicine begin?

My internship was at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) and included a term at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children. RPH was a very busy hospital with many nights (seemingly alone) spent in the wards where we had huge responsibilities for the extremely sick patients.

What pathway lead you to haematology?

I began physician training which included rotations through the specialty units and to a term in the Haematology unit at RPH. This was a busy unit with responsibilities in both the laboratory and the clinical area. The unit was heavily involved in new areas of treatment including bone marrow transplantation. I found the concept of these novel treatments very exciting as they effectively cured conditions which were previously untreatable.

I liked the combination of the clinical and laboratory work and the long-term professional relationships with the patients. There are some patients I have known for decades and others where I’ve been involved with the care of several generations. This is especially so in genetic conditions such as the bleeding and clotting disorders.

What does an average day look like for you?

I have mainly worked in paediatrics, initially in haematology and paediatric oncology and laboratory haematology. In the last few years, I have concentrated on areas such as haemophilia and other “benign” disorders. Often a day would involve hospital ward rounds, outpatient clinics, student teaching and looking at blood slides in the laboratory, then the prospect of a night “on call” for the hospital.

What has been the highlight of your career?

I think the progress in the treatment of bleeding disorders has been remarkable. When I first started treating patient with haemophilia there was an AIDS epidemic which was horrific but started an incredible surge in research in the area. The production of safe treatments has progressed to the point where the condition can be effectively treated at home from birth with minimal disruption to daily life.

Photo: Dr Jamie Price with 8-year-old Ryan Furtado. Ryan is now 31 years old and has recently sent Dr Price a photo of himself with his newborn baby daughter. Photo courtesy of the Health Department WA.

What is a medical breakthrough which you dream of?

Gene therapy will soon be a reality with trials in haemophilia showing amazing results with production of the missing clotting factors and an effective “cure” of the condition. This is one of the first disorders where gene therapy has been effective but will in all probability be the first of many.

What events lead to your interest in thrombosis?

Thrombosis is a relatively rare event in paediatrics but does occur and often has an underlying genetic cause. The identification of the thrombophilia factor mutations in the past few years has led to a greater understanding of how these events occur. Tracking down these mutations results in better preventive therapy - for example, during pregnancy where there may be a risk for the mother or the baby.

Why are you passionate about the Thrombosis Australia Initiative?

Helping with the development of the website has been a highlight. This has been a very ambitious venture and I believe will be a very useful tool for everyone to gain greater knowledge about thrombosis. I hope this will help in preventing unwanted dangerous clotting from occurring.