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New Telethon boss big shoes to fill
New director of the Telethon Institute Jonathan Carapetis. Picture: John Mokrzycki / The West Australian.

In what will be his first Telethon, the new director of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research is excited and a tad daunted at making his debut appearance.

In recent weeks he has watched DVDs, spoken to organisers and brushed up on his recognition of local Channel 7 personalities to prepare for Perth's biggest charity event.

Jonathan Carapetis has taken over the incredible legacy left by Professor Fiona Stanley, who spent more than two decades establishing the world-class health institute we know today.

Professor Carapetis moved from Darwin earlier this year with his wife Sue Skull, a paediatrician and two young children to take on the high-profile role and raise their family in Perth.

While he has never attended Telethon, for many years he has been well aware of the strong ties the fundraiser has to the community and its importance in promoting and supporting child health research.

"The thing that really intrigues me about Telethon is how it strikes a chord in the community and how it manages to do that for so long," Professor Carapetis said.

Raised in Adelaide, Professor Carapetis did his medical training in Melbourne before going to Darwin for his PhD studies at the Menzies School of Health Research, where he returned as director in 2006. The opportunity to continue the good work of Professor Stanley was too strong to resist and in July the Carapetis family uprooted from Darwin and settled into a riverside suburb in Perth.

He acknowledged the big shoes he has to fill and said he was looking forward to putting Perth on the global map as the "place to be to do great work in kids' health".

"When people think child health and when they think child health research I want Perth to be the first place they think about and I think we have the opportunity to do that," Professor Carapetis said.