SSPA Patron


A set of expectations and duties of the Patron outlined by the SSPA

·   The role of a Patron is to be a supporter of the SSPA and to promote the mission, values, aims and objectives of
    the SSPA at every opportunity.

  • Expectation of the Patron will be to use them as representation of what the SSPA stands for i.e. they will be included in all official documentation which is used for correspondence, they will act as a representative force for public relations and marketing usage


A clear understanding of the relationship between the Patron and the SSPA and how they work together in achieving and upholding the aims, objectives, values and mission of the SSPA.


The responsibility of the Patron is to act and serve in accordance with what the SSPA are expecting of them, these expectations must reflect the aims and objectives of the SSPA.


 ·     The Patron is accountable to the SSPA as a whole.

  • The Patron of the SSPA may be removed by resolution of a general meeting of the SSPA, passed by a special majority, or by resignation.


The Patron’s authorial duties must be outlined to them when they take up the position of Patron.


1969-1981 Sir Lorimer Dods
1981-2003 Professor David Danks AO
2011-          Tina Zeleznik

Immediate Past Patron: Professor David M. Danks AO

Professor David M. Danks was Patron of the Short Statured People of Australia from 1981 to 2003 and a member of the Committee from its inception. Recognised as the ‘Father of Clinical Genetics in Australia’, Professor Danks had a major influence in the development of genetics in this country. His contribution as the Foundation Director of the Murdoch Institute for Research into Birth Defects and the Victorian Clinical Genetics Services (VCGS) was honoured by the Gold Medal of the Royal Children’s Hospital in 1989 and the Order of Australia (OA) in 1990. He always maintained an active interest in the welfare of his patients, was a regular attender at SSPA meetings and led a clinical research project in the early 1980’s to gain a better understanding of the impact of short stature on the lives of his patients in the SSPA.

After completing his medical training in Melbourne, Professor Danks trained in Clinical Genetics with Cedric Carter (London) and Victor McKusick (Baltimore). On returning to Melbourne in the early 1960’s, he established his paediatric, genetic, and research activities at the Royal Children’s Hospital and commenced the Clinical Genetics Service.

He was Reader in Human Genetics (1967-1975), Chairman and Professor of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne (1975-1982) and then Professor of Paediatric Research. His research interest focused on the cause and treatment of inborn errors of metabolism including phenylketonuria. It was Professor Danks who recognised that copper deficiency was the basis of Menkes disease, research which he and his team pursued over the next 20 years and were one of three international groups in 1992 to isolate the gene.

The Murdoch Institute became known internationally as a Centre of excellence in genetic research. The establishment of the VCGS (Victorian Clinical Genetics Services) in July 1988 was the culmination of the efforts of Professor Danks bringing together years of activities in clinical diagnostic work and genetic counselling, laboratory diagnosis of DNA, cytogenetics, biochemical and metabolic disorders, including the newborn metabolic screening program. The Genetics Services – now known as Genetic Health Services Victoria, have expanded from clinics of paediatrics and obstetrics to conditions of middle and old age and clinics are now conducted in Adult and Paediatric Hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne and non-metropolitan centres.

Professor Danks’ diverse interests included application of modern technologies and led to the development of the POSSUM program, a database linked up to images, which is used internationally to help diagnose syndromes in people. A similar program was developed to help diagnose and learn about bone conditions. This program called OSSUM was later incorporated in POSSUM and gratefully acknowledges the consent of those who have allowed use of their X-rays and images.

Professor Danks retired from the Institute in 1994 but maintained an active interest in the progress of genetic research and services until his passing in July 2003 aged 72.

© 2016 SSPA.