UNSW Medicine & Health alumna Dr Sarah Haynes has been announced as the NSW Rhodes Scholar Elect for 2023. She is the third consecutive UNSW Medicine & Health alum to receive the scholarship in three years.
Dr Haynes is a Doctor of Medicine and Bachelor of Medical Studies graduate. She is dedicated to improving women’s health globally and is currently completing her medical training at Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney.
The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and one of the most prestigious international scholarship program, enabling outstanding young people to study at Oxford University.
Dr Haynes intends to study a Master of Science in Women’s and Reproductive Health and Master of Science in Global Health Science at Oxford.
Focus on female physiology and anatomy
“Receiving the Rhodes Scholarship feels completely surreal. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, and I’m not sure it ever will. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the support of remarkable friends, family, mentors, tutors and colleagues who allowed me to even believe in the possibility of applying,” Dr Haynes said.
“My current aspiration is to transform women’s health into a medical specialty that better understands the impact of female physiology and anatomy on various disease presentations, diagnosis, and treatment. For a long time, medicine and medical research has excluded women from medical research at all levels and mainly focused on women’s health issues that affect their reproductive organs. As a result, women are more likely to be misdiagnosed than men and on average it takes women longer to receive an accurate diagnosis.”
Ambition to change women's health
UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Attila Brungs, who studied inorganic chemistry at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, said he was impressed by Dr Haynes’ ambition.
“The world needs young people with passion, generosity of character, and vision founded on demonstrated expertise and knowledge – like Sarah, who is an exceptional student. She has a very promising future and I wish her the very best for her studies at Oxford and beyond,” Prof. Brungs said.
Dean of Medicine & Health and Scientia Professor at UNSW, Vlado Perkovic, congratulated Dr Haynes.
“We are enormously proud of Sarah and I have no doubt she will make a significant contribution to women’s health research, to the medical community and to society more broadly,” he said.
“We know we have outstanding students at Medicine & Health, and I am delighted to see our graduates being recognised again.”
As a keen marathon and ultra-marathon runner, Dr Haynes first discovered new research in sports medicine that demonstrated how female physiology and anatomy can impact training and performance. This sparked her interest in advancing women’s health elsewhere.
Rhodes Scholarship and leadership
“The scholarship will allow me to further my knowledge of female physiology, research, and public health so that one day I can hopefully conduct my own clinical research. However, most importantly the Rhodes Scholarship will stretch me to grow as a leader so I can use these new research skills to create long-lasting impact in women’s health and gender equality more broadly,” Dr Haynes said.
“I hope that by advocating for improvements in women’s health we will also see medicine become a system that is more inclusive for people of all genders, sexualities and cultural backgrounds.”
Outside of her studies, Dr Haynes is a member of the NSW Medical Women’s Society Committee and has spent time volunteering at The Girls’ Refuge in Sydney.
Rhodes Scholars are chosen on the basis of exceptional intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service. Each year, about 100 scholars are selected from around 60 countries, including up to nine from Australia – one for each state, plus three Australia-at-Large awards.