Phone 03 9347 9911
Professor Helen O’Connell is an academic Urologist based in Melbourne.
Completing her Urological training in 1994, she became Australia’s first female Urologist. She was Fellowship trained after that in Houston and became a leader in the field of clinical urology, urodynamics and lower urinary tract reconstruction, particularly in women.
Her Doctorate, (Melbourne University 2005) was in the study of female urogenital anatomy, studies for which she has international renown. She has been Principal investigator on a large number of clinical trials for drugs and devices for overactive bladder, stress incontinence in men and women and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Her current research interests are female urethral science, minimally invasive surgical approaches to problematic transvaginal mesh, stimulated transplanted smooth muscle neo-sphincters and shared care models of treatment for men with prostate cancer, and big data on incontinence in men and women.
She has been elected President of USANZ. She has a Master of Medicine in Women’s Health, Fellowship of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has had long running directorships for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand. She became a Full Professor at the University of Melbourne, Department of Surgery in 2013.
In 2021, Professor O'Connell was named an Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia: For distinguished service to medical education, and to medicine, in the field of urology, as an academic and clinician, and to professional groups.
2023 President, USANZ
2020 Professor, Research, Monash University
2019 Urology Head, Australasian Pelvic Floor Procedures Registry Steering Committee
2013 Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Melbourne
"Throughout my childhood and adolescence, as mothers do, mine would fuss over my hands. "You will do something great with those hands". My natural love for problem solving and the need to try to satisfy Mum's inspiration found a home in a career in surgery, Urological surgery. I had experienced successful squint surgery as a toddler in the early 1960s. It set up the belief that surgery had the power to transform or cure. Giving up glasses was good even as a 2 year old.
The attraction to Urology: firstly it was intriguing to know almost nothing about an area after 6 years of medical study. What were they keeping secret? I liked the type and range of surgery used - cystoscopic, ureteroscopic, nephroscopic, open abdominal and perineal. As a young woman choosing a career, in the Urology clinics I was given encouragement for being female, patients not all women, saying they were happy to be treated by a lady doctor.
My favourite work is the actual operating. I feel at home with a team of highly skilled individuals doing something that is likely to make someone's life better, easier or cured. "
Prof Helen O'Connell AO
2014 Fellow Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD)2005 Doctorate of Medicine (MD) University of Melbourne1997 Master Medicine (MMed) University of Melbourne1994 Royal Australasian College of Surgeon, FRACS (Urol)1985 MBBS - University of Melbourne. Professor Helen O’Connell was trained in Australia by the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand, the peak body for urological surgeons. The training program for Urologists is accredited with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons from which Professor O’Connell gained her surgical qualification the FRACS (Urol). Professor O’Connell undertook advanced post Fellowship training in the USA, specialising in the surgical management of disorders affecting urinary function. Professor O’Connell completed training as Australia’s first female Urologist in 1994. She was Fellowship trained by world renowned expert in NeuroUrology and Urology, Dr Edward J McGuire MD, in Houston, Texas 1994-1995. Based at The University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Melbourne Private Hospital, she completed a Doctorate of Medicine in female pelvic anatomy in 2004 having earned a Masters degree in 1997 for a project on female urge incontinence. Professor O’Connell has been on the Board of Directors of Royal Australasian College of Surgeons since 2005 and was the specially elected Director to the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand for 2005-2010, was elected Vice President of USANZ in 2021 and became President in 2023. She was the Chair of the Board of Surgical Research for the College in 2007-2009.
Her clinical and research focus is on surgical treatment to rectify lower urinary tract problems, particularly incontinence and outlet obstruction.