Academic chairs

Epworth, in partnership with leading Victorian universities, has seven academic chairs in key specialty areas. The academic chairs are responsible for furthering research, policy development and professional activities at Epworth and overseeing undergraduate education and postgraduate training programs.


The Victor Smorgon Epworth Institute of Education and Research


The Victor Smorgon Epworth Institute of Education and Research was established through a $7.5 million donation from the Victor Smorgon Charitable Fund.


The institute expands Epworth’s teaching and research capabilities, including the training of medical registrars and fellows and the work of the clinical institutes. Located within the hospital precinct, the institute of enables close collaboration between basic scientific research and clinical practice. Each of the three medical academic chairs are named in honour of Victor Smorgon to reflect the Smorgon family’s significant contribution to education and research at Epworth.


Academic chairs

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Professor John Olver

​Professor John Olver


Epworth Victor Smorgon Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine - Monash University


Professor John Olver, Medical Director, Epworth Rehabilitation is the Victor Smorgon Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine. The position comprises of dual relationships with Epworth HealthCare and Monash University incorporating Epworth Rehabilitation and the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Services.


Professor Olver's role as Victoria's only chair in rehabilitation medicine is to foster excellence in research, policy development and professional activities while also developing and expanding rehabilitation medicine and the commitment to patient care at Epworth.


Professor Olver is also the director of the Epworth Monash Rehabilitation Medicine Unit, established in 2010.

Professor Richard de Steiger

Professor​ Richard de Steiger


Epworth Victor Smorgon Chair of Surgery - The University of Melbourne


Professor Richard de Steiger is an orthopaedic surgeon with a special interest in hip and knee joint replacement and the management of adult hip disorders. He completed his fellowship training in orthopaedic surgery in Melbourne and studied for several years in Oxford, United Kingdom and Bern, Switzerland.


Professor de Steiger currently holds the positions of: Epworth Victor Smorgon Chair of Surgery - The University of Melbourne and the Deputy Director of the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry, which monitors all hip and knee implants inserted in Australia. He is also a member of the Australian Orthopaedic Association, Victorian/Tasmanian Regional Training Committee (VTRTC), Victorian Orthopaedic Research Trust (VORT), and sits on many research committees and government panels.


He is the principle investigator on several orthopaedic trials, and his current research interests include joint replacement surgery, computer navigation and the application of adult stem cell therapy to orthopaedics.

Professor Mari Botti

​Professor Mari Botti

Epworth Chair of Nursing - Deakin University

Professor Mari Botti was appointed the Epworth Deakin Chair of Nursing in 2004, and has held academic appointments for over 20 years. Professor Botti co-ordinates the Bachelor of Nursing (Honours) program, is Chair of the Deakin University Human Research and Ethics Committee, and a member of the Epworth Human Research and Ethics Committee. She also leads the Epworth Deakin Centre for Clinical Nursing Research.

Her specific research and clinical interests are in postoperative pain management, investigation of models of care that encourage patient engagement in their care, safety and wellbeing, ​and the use of data to improve quality and safety in healthcare.


Professor Jennie Ponsford

Professor Jennie Ponsford


Chair of Psychology – Monash University


Professor Jennie Ponsford is a Professor of Neuropsychology and Director of Postgraduate Studies in the School of Psychology, Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine at Monash University, Director of the Epworth Monash Rehabilitation Research Centre at Epworth HealthCare, and Associate Director (Rehabilitation) of the National Trauma Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia.


​She has spent the past 30 years engaged in clinical work and research with individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Professor Ponsford has been heavily involved in the development of the specialised TBI rehabilitation programs at Epworth, conducting research investigating outcomes following mild, moderate and severe TBI.



Professor Nilmini Wickramasinghe

Professor Nilmini Wickramasinghe


Epworth Professor-Director Health Informatics Management - Deakin University


Professor Nilmini Wickramasinghe received her PhD from Case Western Reserve University, USA and currently is the Professor Director Health Informatics Management at Epworth Healthcare and a professor at Deakin University.

She researches and teaches within the information systems domain with a special focus on IS/IT solutions to effect superior, patient-centric healthcare delivery. She has collaborated with leading scholars at various premier healthcare organizations throughout US and Europe.

She is well published with more than 300 referred scholarly articles, 10 books, numerous book chapters, an encyclopaedia and a well established funded research track record.