As the wife of the late Professor Chris O’Brien (AO), Gail has played an instrumental role in supporting her husband’s vision for Australia to have its own world-class, fully integrated and comprehensive cancer care facility. Gail was by Chris’ side from when he was initially diagnosed with brain cancer, until he died in 2009. It was soon after this time, she accepted a position as board member of the facility that now bears her husband’s name.
Since that time, Gail has used her own experience and insights to address a wide range of corporate, industry and special interest groups about the new hope that lies ahead for the thousands of Australians each year who receive the news they have cancer. Gail has a strong background in health. In addition to her role with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Gail is also a practicing physiotherapist, working within the hospital sector in the area of orthopaedic rehabilitation. Gail originally trained as a physiotherapist at the NSW College of Paramedical Studies and was initially appointed to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as a physiotherapy resident in 1976.
It was during this time she first met and then married Chris and in 1980 they travelled to the United Kingdom and United States to further his training in head and neck surgery. Upon returning to Australia, Gail went on to manage Chris’ busy practice from 1987 until 2006. During this time, Gail also helped Chris launch the Sydney Head and Neck Cancer Institute based at RPA, managing events and raising funds for their basic and clinical research programs on head and neck cancer. This work has continued in line with her involvement with Lifehouse. Having been born into a medical family and working within the health sector during her career, Gail has always been fascinated by the world of medicine and what it can offer, particularly in the area of cancer care and treatment.
Her first-hand experience, knowledge, passion and understanding are invaluable to her continuing role with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.