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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 October 2015
NEWS 8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 OCTOBER 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM A tribute to John Pericles Arthur Deighton PETER ADAMIS There are other far better and greater men and women who could write more eloquently and with more knowledge, skill and passion, of John Deighton. I cannot and will not write or comment about his military experiences as others better qualified have that right. Mine is only to write about his personal influence and that of the Australian Hellenic veteran community. As such I seek forgiveness from those who knew him better, I can only speak from the time I met the great man in Victoria while he was working closely with old friends the likes of Bruce Ruxton, John Anagnostou, Keith Rossis and Michael Lidis. All of the above were thick as thieves during their pinnacle at the RSL and much good work was done under their tutelage. John Anagnostou and Michael Lidis, always in competition with each other, would go on to to do good work for the Australian Hellenic Victorian veteran community. My time with John was during the 1990s while still serving as a Warrant Officer with the Australian Army. John, along with Bruce Ruxton and that indomitable old man Keith Rossi, made my transition into the RSL and to the world of civil life much easier. To them, I am and always will be, eternally grateful as I was still struggling to raise four sons on my own. John was a man's man, standing head and shoulders above his peers. He was born on the island of Corkyra (Corfu) and like Bruce Ruxton, passionate about his love of the Greek people. I remember many a time on Anzac Day, meeting him for breakfast down in South Melbourne at Bruce Ruxton's office amidst the many others who congregated there. John Deighton, along with Bruce Ruxton, and members of the Hellenic RSL Branch, John Anagnostou and Michael Lidis, were instrumental in negotiating with local authorities to long lease the Hellenic RSL Branch in South Melbourne. As far as the Australian Hellenic veterans were concerned, John Pericles Arthur Deighton and Bruce Ruxton were honorary Australian Greeks. John was also instrumental for his support to the Australian Hellenic War Memorial in Melbourne's Domain Gardens. A strong supporter of ex-servicemen and women, a tireless worker within the Victorian RSL Branch, loved and admired by Australians of Greek heritage and not a man to be crossed if it meant going against Australian values. From my point of view, during the times I spent interviewing him, John appeared to have a positive outlook on life that reached out and touched many across the generations. He had seen young men and women come and go, and with each he would ensure that no one went away empty-handed. Like Bruce Ruxton, he was never afraid of the truth or of confronting issues that were found to be challenging by others. In truth, John will be sadly missed but his legacy still lives on. We often too readily forget those men and women who have influenced our lives and later regret that we did not have the bloody balls and courage to express it publicly All that I can say at this point in time is that if I, at the age of 65, an Australian of Greek heritage who has embraced Australian values, can write about men like John Deighton and express my heartfelt thanks, then the spirit of the ‘digger’, ‘mateship’ and ‘Anzac’ is not dead. To John and to those who made this country of ours safe and free from the evils of this world, we who hav worn the uniform of this nation we call home, Australia, salute you. JPA may you rest in peace in the embrace of your mates. Prof. Christopoulos receives honorary doctorate Top Aussie pharmacologist honoured by University of Athens ZOE THOMAÚDOU An Honorary Doctorate of Law has been conferred on Monash University Professor Arthur Christopoulos by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens for his international contribution to pharmacy and pharmacology. The award ceremony was held in Athens last month. Αmong the guests were the dean of the faculty of pharmacy at Monash University, Professor Bill Charman, and representatives from the Australian Embassy in Athens and the Greek Academy of Science. Being a first generation Greek, born in Australia to migrant parents, Dr Christopoulos, who works at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash, is intimately connected to his Hellenic heritage and feels his professional success is a credit to his parents' struggle. "I was the first person in my family to finish university and it's good to see that my parents' sacrifices have not been in vain. "The award is obviously a mark of international pres- tige and for me in particular an honour, because it's my parents' homeland that is recognising the achievements of the Greek pharmacologists. This ceremony made me feel emotional for many reasons", Dr Christopoulos told Neos Kosmos. Fascinated by science as a student, he could not imagine that a few years later he would embark on a distinguished academic career. "It wasn't until my university studies that I realised I enjoyed the knowledge and the pharmacology so much that I wanted to take it further," he says. "When I practised as a pharmacist I could see that the medicines we dispense are suboptimal. There are diseases poorly treated, while others cause a lot of side-effects and I knew that I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to change that." After gaining a PhD at the Victorian College of Pharmacology, he spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota, before returning to Australia to set up a research laboratory. Now a leading scientist in According to Dr Christopoulos, it serves as an opportunity for stronger ties to be developed between the Australian academics and the University of Athens to support students and young researchers in Greece. "It is almost like having an Emeritus position over there, so we can try building stronger links. "Especially for promising young researchers, we would like to find an avenue to build stronger bridges and also ways to raise funding for some to come and study in Australia." Professor Christopoulos (second from left) with colleagues from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. his field, he specialises in drug discovery for schizophrenia, diabetes and obesity. By targeting a specific family of proteins in the body, called G proteins, Dr Christopoulos and his colleagues have developed a new approach to disease treatment. The group's key focus is designing drugs with increased selectivity that can offer an equally potent treatment, while side-effects are eliminated. A year ago Dr Christopoulos and his team of researchers made a major step forward in treating cardiovascular disease with their development of safer drugs for heart attack victims. As Dr Christopoulos explains, his research has opened a lot of new doors, allowing the pursuit of exciting ideas in an academic environment, but also facilitating a connection with pharmaceutical companies to turn the ideas into reality. "I get the best of both worlds. It allows you the intellectual freedom as opposed to being stuck at the whim of corporate decisions. "I don't want to work for a drug company but I want to work with a drug company. A lot of their decisions have nothing to do with science and are based on profit, so I don't want to play that game," he says. The prolific academic, who has authored more than 200 scientific articles, is considered the highest-cited pharmacologist in Australia and was listed by Thomson Reuters among the one per cent of the world's most influential scientific minds in his field in 2014. The recipient of numerous distinctions, getting the top nod from the University of Athens is more than a major honour in recognition of his achievements. In Athens Dr Christopoulos had the opportunity to discuss with other scientists and students and says he met some very bright minds striving to perfrom science within an unfavourable economic environment. "I was impressed by the vigour, the questions, the drive of these students, but you could also see the frustration of some of them wondering how to go to the next level, given the difficulties that Greece is facing at the moment. "This award also helped them realise we actually care about the coming generation of scientists and are happy to help, and that's an important message to get across."
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