doctor ursula sansom-daly

Q: What is your role at the Randwick Health & Innovation Precinct (RHIP)?
A:I wear two hats at RHIP – I am a Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Behavioural Sciences Unit (BSU), within the School of Clinical Medicine, UNSW Medicine & Health. The BSU is a large interdisciplinary research group dedicated to understanding and addressing the psychological, behavioural and ethical aspects of cancer – and other chronic illnesses – in children, adolescents and young adults.
I also have a clinical role, as a clinical psychologist at the Sydney Youth Cancer Service that sits across Prince of Wales and Sydney Children's Hospitals. In this role I work with 15 to 25-year-old young people at any point in their cancer care trajectory – from diagnosis, through to treatment, the transition to survivorship once treatment is finished, and for some young people, palliative care and end of life.
Q: What attracted you to this type of work?
A:Young people are great to work with. A lot of the time people’s first reaction when they hear what I do is “oh, that must be so depressing!” But I find it quite the opposite.
Young people are a lot more flexible and open to change and new ideas than those who are older – and flexibility and change is what psychology is really all about.
At the BSU, our vision is to foster a ‘whole of life’ approach to childhood cancer; recognising the child or young person not only as a patient, but also a family member, a future adult and a member of society. In that context, our goal is to enable each new generation of families affected by childhood cancer to have a better experience than the last. Contributing to the bigger picture is exciting.

Q: What excites you most about the Precinct?
A: The intersections – between and amongst research and clinical, between paediatric and adult, between different disciplines, between illness/disease group specialties. The spaces between us – where our boundaries meet – is where a lot of our potential lies.

Q: What do the next six months look like?
A: The next six months for me will involve many big and small things to progress our work alongside my brilliant colleagues. At the Sydney Youth Cancer Service, we have just been awarded a grant from the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation to develop and test a new needs-based model of psychological support for adolescent and young adult cancer survivors, so, we will be busy setting up that project. At the BSU, we are always busy running many different research studies, so will be continuing to collect, analyse and disseminate our findings!
I also enjoyed opportunities to meet and connect face-to-face again this year, namely, at the Australian & New Zealand Children’s Haematology and Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) Annual Scientific Meeting and the International Society of Paediatric Oncology's (SIOP) Annual Congress in Ottawa, Canada.
Q: Can you share an interesting fact about yourself?  
I spent a year living in Denmark on an exchange year when I was younger, the year that Crown Prince Frederick married Princess Mary, and I got to meet them briefly when they went on their royal tour around the country! It was a funny (and fun) time to be in Denmark, as an Australian, and I felt strangely connected to her as two Aussies both learning the tricky Danish tongue that year.

Learn more about Randwick Health and Innovation Precinct’s partners, purpose and impact at, and follow RHIP on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube to keep up to date with what’s happening across the Precinct.