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Rhodes Scholar on a mission to improve rural and remote health

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A Curtin medical school graduate is bound for Oxford University in the UK after winning a prestigious ‘Australia at Large’ Rhodes Scholarship to study the use of digital technology to improve health services in rural and remote areas of Australia.

Dr James Leigh, aged 23, was part of the first graduating cohort of Curtin’s medical school and will begin his studies at Oxford next September, where he plans to do a Master of Science in Applied Digital Health.

A junior doctor currently based at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, Dr Leigh’s studies at Oxford will include the potential of digital health technology to reduce the length of hospital stays and thereby the isolation of rural patients in postoperative care.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne congratulated Dr Leigh on receiving the prestigious scholarship, which is awarded to only the elite of Australian graduates to study at one of the world’s finest universities.

“Dr Leigh is a truly worthy recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship and this latest achievement continues a stellar start to his career, including being awarded a Don Watts High Achiever Scholarship in 2021 and Global Voices WHA Scholarship in 2019,” Professor Hayne said.

“Through his Global Voices scholarship, Dr Leigh performed superbly as a delegate at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in 2019 and I am confident he will make a similarly positive impact at Oxford through work that will help change people’s lives and promote the health of society.

“Having established and led STRIVE WA, which is one of Australia’s largest student-led research collaboratives and having also taught and tutored Indigenous medical students at Curtin’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies, Dr Leigh is clearly someone on a mission to make a difference.”

Dr Leigh said he looked forward to learning from world leaders in research while at Oxford.

“I’m incredibly grateful to have received the scholarship, which will allow me to develop the skills to conduct and lead research projects relating to digital health technology, including the design of safety protocols for innovations like artificial intelligence,” Dr Leigh said.

“I’ll be focussing on the use of predictive analytics, remote patient monitoring and machine learning to improve surgical care for remote and rural patients in Australia.”

The Rhodes Scholarship is a fully funded, full-time, postgraduate award which enables talented young people from around the world to study at the University of Oxford.

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