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Michael McDowell

Associate Professor, The University of Queensland

I am a medical Doctor, having completed my medical degree at Sydney University in 1984. Following that I specialised in Paediatrics, (the health care of children) at what was then the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney.

During my paediatric training I became interested in children with developmental problems. The role of a Doctor was clear when the children had more severe disability, but not so clear for milder developmental and behavioural problems. I could see, however, that the struggle for these children (development, behaviour, learning) was not just the result of their choices. It was due, at least in part, to their biology, or 'how they were built'. To me, this fact has major implications for understanding these children, accepting and caring for them.

To get further training in the area I went to the Children's Hospital in Boston, USA where I completed a 3 year clinical training fellowship and a Masters Degree at Harvard University.

My wife and I decided that we wanted our children to grow up Australians rather than Americans, and returned. I then spent 2 years in Newcastle, NSW, as Director of a community based health facility, the 'Child and Family Centre', before moving to Brisbane, where for several years I was Director of the Child Development Program for the Royal Children's Hospital.

I left the Director position to finish my PhD and continue to have a role in the University as an Associate Professor.

At the same time, 2001, I began private clinical practice in developmental paediatrics. This practice has grown to become the CDN, where we now benefit from a great team. We have tried to build a culture around quality individualised care, accountable through the achievement of meaningful outcomes for children and their families.

In 2012, with Dr Jane Lesslie and others, we founded the Neurodevelopmental and Behavioural Paediatric Society of Australasia (NBPSA). This has become the peak body in Australia and New Zealand for Paediatricians and other doctors who have a specialised interest in this area of work. I was elected Foundation President, and retired from this position in 2016. I remain active in the development of this Society.

I continue to enjoy this work - it is complex, interesting, and every child is unique. I have particularly enjoyed getting to know children and families as they grow and develop.


  • –present
    Associate Professor, The University of Queensland