28 Dec 2005, 03:22:12 PM

Reporter: Andrea Burns

The public demands on the time of Fiona Wood and Fiona Stanley, should be slowing down, but professionally they're busier than ever and they're embarking on a plan to rewrite the medical books. We live our lives differently because of these two women - two formidable intellects - two Australians of the Year, two Fionas.

Fiona stanley says "it's a privilege to be able to work in areas we think will make a difference" "people sort of think oh you can't do it in western australia, you've gotta go east, or you've gotta go to you know new york or somewhere, well, we've done it"

What child health expert.Professor Fiona Stanley and surgeon Dr Fiona Wood have done, is launched a collaboration to research a new type of drug. It's hoped reducing the amount of damage from burns , will be its first application.

Fiona stanley says "this is all good, home grown good science being applied for a very important clinical area today in western australia so I think it's a great celebration actually"

Dr Paul Watt is the chief scientist with Phylogica, a spin off company established by the Telethon Institute for child health, that's working to develop the drugs. Dr Watt - and both Fionas - stress it's early days, but the implications for many conditions are enormous.

Dr Watt's says " rheumatoid arthritis, the damage that follows stroke, the damage that follows burns, diseases like asthmas and diseases like crohns disease"

Fiona Wood says"we really have to understand that to add to the body of knowledge, we have to stand on the shoulders of the giants that have gone before but we will add to that body of knowledge and it's so important that the foundations are solid.. and that maybe we will reap the benefits maybe in years, or maybe it will be our children or maybe our childrens' children"

It seems almost everything these women do, they do well.

"it doesn't matter what your best is, what matters is that you actually look at that down the barrel and do your best. It doesn't matter whether that's a pole vaulting or a hurdle, what matters is that you jump it" says Fiona Wood

For Fiona Wood, the sun is setting on her year as Australian of the Year. "I feel like I've had this privileged education, courtesy of 20 plus million australians that only a very few people have ever had and there is nothing else in my life that is a reference point to this, there's absolutely nothing"

For Fiona Stanley those messages included child health, aboriginal reconcilliation and the importance of research. Fiona Wood, whose work with Bali bombing victims, also improved lives, has encouraged Australians to aim high and try harder.

Phylogica - Beyond Antibodies