Getting to know .... Suzanne (Suzi) Nielsen

What is your role at Monash?

I am an Associate Professor (Research) and the Deputy Director of the Monash Addiction Research Centre (MARC). MARC is based here at the Peninsula campus in Building G. I am also an NHMRC Career Development Fellow. I came back to Monash to take up this role last year (2018), after completing my PhD at the Parkville campus in 2008.

Did you want to do this sort of work when you were small? 

I have to admit, as a child, I didn’t see myself doing research in addiction. I was a pretty sporty kid, I grew up riding horses around the Mornington Peninsula and thought I would do that forever. I did end up studying pharmacy at Monash for my undergraduate degree, and then once I started clinical work I fell in love with the clinical area of addiction medicine, and my research interests have grown from there.

What do you consider to be the most enjoyable and fun part of your job?

Working to better understand what contributes to harms around substance use, and finding solutions that may help to reduce these harms is the most enjoyable part of my work. I find this work incredibly rewarding. There is so much scope to improve our responses to addiction for individuals, for communities, and at the policy and practice level. I feel very lucky to be able to contribute to this work.

In three words, how would you describe your students?

Most of my students are higher degree research students, and I would describe them as incredibly independent, capable and driven. I’ve been very lucky with the calibre of students I have had the opportunity to work with.

Are you involved in any sort of research? 

I am in a research only role, so it feels like my whole life is research! Most of my recent work has focussed on better identification and treatment of pharmaceutical drug related problems, understanding changing patterns of opioid overdose and other opioid-related harms, and improving management of substance use disorders in primary care settings.

What do you love most about Peninsula campus?

So many things! The physical space is so green and beautiful – I have a lot of birds outside my window. The close proximity to Peninsula Health is also fantastic. As a clinician-researcher (I am a pharmacist) being able to work closely with health services to do work that is grounded in clinical need is really important. The close links between Peninsula Health and Monash represent an enormous opportunity to do translational research that really matters. This makes the location of the Peninsula campus a real strength.