MARTIN THAN, MD – Director of Emergency Medicine Research, Christchurch Public Hospital

Dr Martin Than is an Emergency Medicine Specialist and Director of Emergency Medicine Research at Christchurch Public Hospital. He is also a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Christchurch School of Medicine, University of Otago and is the current Chairperson of the Emergency Care Foundation – New Zealand’s only charitable trust dedicated to raisiing funds for ED research.

Having a strong interest in emergency medicine, Martin was also the Chairman of the Canterbury-West Coast Emergency Care Coordination Team, part of a ministerial reference group for reviewing New Zealand’s emergency air ambulance and helicopter services. He has a number of awards such as the Commonwealth of Australia Decoration for Bravery, the Surf Life-Saving Australia Meritorious Award for Bravery and the Royal Humane Society of Australia Bronze Medallion.

Martin received his medical degree from Charing Cross & Westminster Medical School, University of London and has done additional post graduate training in Evidence Based Healthcare at the University of Exeter.

Martin’s specific areas of interest and expertise are evidence-based medicine and medical diagnostics. Martin is currently the principal investigator of the Asia Pacific Evaluation of Chest pain Trial (ASPECT) study, a 4,000 patient study investigating the use of risk stratification tools and biomarkers in the assessment of acute chest pain involving 15 centres and 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. He has recently been asked to join an International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) expert project on “Education in Cardiovascular Biomarkers” which aims to produce educational materials for clinicians and laboratorians in the clinical practice.

Earlier this year, Martin, as the principal investigator of a research collaboration based at Christchurch Hospital, secured a grant for $900,000 from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) to study more accurate and faster diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome in Emergency Departments. The research (a randomised control trial comparing current care with a new ‘fast track’ pathway) will investigate an innovative and workable change to the medical decision making process for patients presenting acutely to Emergency Departments with chest pain that might possibly be due to a heart attack. The research will support research knowledge translation by providing the effectiveness in real-time clinical practice, of the findings of recent, cutting edge New Zealand research, which suggests that for significant numbers of patients, an accelerated chest pain pathway can rule-out Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) sooner, enabling earlier progression to the next phase of chest pain investigations and, importantly, allow early discharge from ED without hospital admission. This outcome will be beneficial for patients, who can be reassured earlier that heart attack has been ruled-out and who avoid the inconvenience and risks of hospital admission. It will also be beneficial for the health service, which will avoid unnecessary admissions, duplication of staff activities and pressure upon urgent care services. The CDHB is supporting the project financially by providing supplementary funding of almost $200,000.

Together with Louise Cullen from the Department of Emergency Medicine, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Martin was one of the principal authors of the special report described below, which was recently published in Emergency Medicine Australasia (2010) 22, 35-55.