Our Clinical Trials Team

Research and clinical trials at The Skin Hospital are conducted by a highly qualified and dedicated group of doctors and researchers. All team members have extensive experience and each member delivers the highest standard of service and care to patients throughout the trial process. Detailed information on the team and their individual qualifications are listed below.
Our Clinical Trials Team2019-08-13T09:51:23+11:00

Dr Johanna Kuchel, Principal Investigator at Darlinghurst

Dr Hanna Kuchel is a Dermatologist with over ten years of clinical experience in the field. She graduated in medicine from The University of Sydney with Honours. Prior to her clinical training in dermatology she completed a PhD titled ‘Mechanisms of Ultraviolet Radiation-Induced Immunosuppression in Humans’, through The University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. She has presented a number of novel research papers at local and overseas conferences.

Her dermatology training was undertaken in Sydney at the Westmead Adults and Children’s Hospitals, St Vincents Hospital in Darlinghurst and in the United Kingdom, at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford.

Dr Kuchel is the Supervisor of Clinical Training at The Skin Hospital Darlinghurst campus. She runs general dermatology clinics, in addition to sub-speciality clinics in hyperhidrosis, cosmetic dermatology, psoriasis and eczema. She is the Principal Investigator of several clinical trials studying novel biological agents for the treatment of psoriasis and eczema. Dr Kuchel also sits on both the research and education committees at The Skin Hospital. She is a recent-past NSW Faculty secretary.


Prof Pablo Fernandez-Penas, Principal Investigator at Westmead

Prof Pablo Fernandez-Peñas (MD, PhD, FACD) is Professor in Dermatology at The University of Sydney (2018), Senior Medical Practitioner (Academic) at Westmead Hospital (2007), Head of the Department of Dermatology at Westmead Hospital (2010), Director of the Centre for Translational Skin Research (2017), Co-Lead of the Melanoma Laboratories, Westmead Institute for Medical Research (2019) and Co-Head of the Discipline of Dermatology, The University of Sydney (2019). Prof Pablo Fernandez-Peñas received his PhD in Medicine from University Autónoma (Spain) in 2000. He was also awarded an Extraordinary Prize of the School of Medicine upon graduating. He went on to achieve several Postgraduate qualifications, including his work as a Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School (USA) in 2005 and completing the Clinical Leadership Modular Program from NSW Health in 2008.

He began working as Associate Professor in Dermatology at the University of Sydney and Senior Academic Medical Practitioner at Westmead Hospital in 2007. The following year, he was appointed Head of Research at the Skin & Cancer Foundation Australia. Since then, Prof Fernandez-Peñas has established research units at Westmead Hospital and at the Skin Hospital, with immunohistochemistry and proteomic platforms, a Dermatology Tissue bank, and a Dermatology Imaging Unit.

Professor Fernandez-Peñas has conducted over 40 clinical Trials as a Principal Investigator and acted as a Co-Investigator in a further 18 trials. He has also participated in numerous research projects, receiving over $12 million in grants over the last five years, to investigate and analyse dermatological diseases. In his academic career, Professor Fernandez-Peñas has had two books published, 14 book chapters and contributed to over 190 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Furthermore, he has attended multiple international dermatology conferences as a guest speaker and received several awards for his work and research. Professor Fernandez-Peñas is also actively engaged in community initiatives to address skin issues, including promotional campaigns and establishing forums. He is also a dedicated mentor and supervisor for students pursuing the field of dermatology.
Professor Fernandez-Penas currently works as a Principal Investigator at The Skin Hospital.


Dr Victoria Venning, Sub-Investigator at Darlinghurst & Westmead

Dr Victoria Venning is the Dermatology Research Fellow at The Skin Hospital. She graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from University of Notre Dame (Australia) in 2012, with the University Prize for Excellence in Social Justice.  She is currently enrolled in a Master of Internal Medicine at the University of Sydney.

Dr Venning has acted as a sub-investigator across numerous dermatological clinical trials, involving detection and management of adverse events, ongoing medial management, and disease severity assessment. These trials have included atopic dermatitis, chronic spontaneous urticaria, chronic plaque psoriasis, androgenic alopecia, alopecia areata and skin cancer treatment. Her extensive experience in conducting clinical trials places her at the forefront of dermatological research and analysis.

Dr Venning has contributed as a tutor and mentor at various universities across Australia, and has co-authored numerous scholarly articles and academic presentations, discussing the treatment of various skin diseases.


Dr Li-Chuen Wong, Sub Investigator at Westmead


Dr Ebrahim AK Abdulla, Principal Investigator at Westmead

Dr Ebrahim Abdulla is a qualified Dermatologist from South Africa who completed his undergraduate training at the University of Natal in 1986. After a stint in general practice Dr Abdulla undertook his post-graduate training in Dermatology at the University of Stellenbosch.

He graduated in 1999 and entered specialist private practice, consulting at St Augustine’s Hospital and Mount Edgecombe Hospital in Durban. In 2016 Dr Abdulla came to Australia to complete his advanced training in Dermatology with the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

In addition to a rural rotation in NSW, Dr Abdulla has trained at The Skin Hospital at Westmead, at Westmead Public Hospital and The Children’s Hospital Westmead. Dr Abdulla is a staff specialist at The Skin Hospital at Westmead and specialises in inflammatory dermatoses affecting children and adults.


Dr Minal Dalvi, Director of Research at Darlinghurst & Westmead

Dr Minal Dalvi received her PhD in Immunology and Microbiology from University of Arizona (USA) in 2006. Her doctoral dissertation assessed the role of genetic and environmental factors in the development of asthma and allergy. She then worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at New York University (USA) and was involved in a proteomics project assessing immune protein expression in HIV-infected individuals pre- and post- HAART treatment. Dr Dalvi also studied the role of an oral bacteria, P. gingivalis, in development of oral cancer at NYU.

As a science editor, Dr Dalvi has reviewed over 100 manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed science journals. Her interest in bringing new treatments from bench to bedside led her to pursue a master’s degree in Intellectual Property Law at University of Technology, Sydney. Dr Dalvi currently works as the Director of Research at The Skin Hospital.

She is involved in developing research projects and oversees 12 clinical trials across our two sites. She also holds the role of Honorary Associate at the University of Sydney.


Dr Mariana Arroyo-Althabe, Clinical Trials Coordinator at Darlinghurst

Dr Mariana Arroyo-Althabe received her Bachelor and Postgraduate Diploma in Medicine from the University of Mendoza (Argentina) in 2012. She then went on to receive her second Postgraduate Diploma in Neuropsychological Treatment and Rehabilitation from AIDYNE (Argentina) in 2013.

During her studies, she worked at SEMA (Argentina) as a doctor, co-ordinating a team of 30 medical specialists, using neurorehabilitation and physiotherapy to treat mature aged patients. She was then promoted, as the Psychology Team Coordinator in 2012, during which time she developed a new protocol for managing the long-term rehabilitation process for out-patients.

In 2016, she was again promoted to a Project Co-ordinator, managing disability teams across multiple partners. Dr Arroyo-Althabe was then appointed as the Head of the Department of Professional Development. In this position she managed learning and training procedures, facilitated leadership development programs and oversaw partnerships with external universities to improve the overall standard of rehabilitation programs.

Dr Arroyo-Althabe now works as one of the Clinical Trial Co-coordinators at The Skin Hospital. She supervises all preparations for studies to commence in a timely and safe manner, managing resources throughout the trial process.


Dr Naomi Sinclair, Clinical Trials Co-ordinator at Westmead

Dr Naomi Sinclair received her Bachelor of Science, graduating with Honours, from Newcastle University (UK) in 2011. She then went on to complete her Master of Research in Molecular Medicine at University of Glasgow (UK) in 2012, assessing the treatment of Chronic Leukaemias and investigating the molecular mechanisms of skin carcinogenesis.

Dr Sinclair received her PhD in Cell Biology and Genetics, also at Newcastle University. Her doctoral dissertation investigated cellular signalling pathways in a rare, inherited skin tumour syndrome. Throughout her studies, she worked as a Research Assistant at the university, contributing to her extensive knowledge and understanding of dermatology and the treatment of skin diseases through clinical trial testing.

Dr Sinclair currently works as one of the Clinical Trial Co-coordinators at The Skin Hospital. She oversees eight clinical trials, across both Westmead and Darlinghurst locations. She is responsible for conducting study assessments and data collection, ensuring correct compliance with all procedures and policies that maintain site quality, sponsor relationships and patient safety.

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