Match made down under

From a chance encounter in the UQ library to walking down the aisle and stepping on stage, MD-PhD student Cody Frear thanks his wife for it all.

It was Louise Frear’s reassuring words that encouraged Mr Frear to pursue an analogy between a children’s burn treatment and a vacuum cleaner called ‘Noo Noo’ from the children’s television show Teletubbies. The winning idea saw Mr Frear take home this year’s UQ Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT).

Over the past five years Mrs Frear has inspired her husband to add an extra three years to his studies to complete his MD-PhD. She was also the taxi driver whenever Mr Frear needed to recruit patients for his clinical trial, and made a home for the couple to settle down in Australia.

“I was recruiting from the hospital, on-call 24/7, for around nine months,” Mr Frear recalls.

“Burns occur at all hours of the day, so sometimes I would receive a call about an eligible patient in  in the middle of the night.Louise would always volunteer to drive me in and pick me up, even if it was 3am.”

Six months after starting a relationship with Mrs Frear, a law student at the time, the Arizona local headed back home to the USA to complete his undergraduate degree in anthropology and biology. Soon after Mr Frear headed back Down Under and enrolled in Medicine at UQ.  

In April 2018, Mr and Mrs Frear exchanged textbooks for vows and married in Samford.

Now in the fourth year of his studies, Mr Frear’s attention is focused on his MD-PhD, which is looking into a treatment method that might improve health outcomes for children who sustain thermal burns.

 “It’s called negative pressure wound therapy and works by applying an evenly-distributed vacuum across the area of a burn,” he explains.

“This is hypothesised to improve healing by removing rogue immune cells from the injured area, reducing swelling around the burn, and directly stimulating the growth of new skin cells and blood vessels.”

It was his time on hospital wards that gave Mr Frear insight into how children can perceive their burn injuries and the idea for his 3MT presentation.

“I was at home one night thinking about a patient I met in the burns centre. She was this remarkable girl named Ellie who would re-enact scenes from the Teletubbies,” explains Mr Frear.

“Then I had a little flash of inspiration: perhaps I could use ‘Noo Noo’ as an analogy for the negative pressure device. It seemed like a half-decent idea at first, but, like many late-night light bulb moments, self-doubt quickly set in. Was it too silly? Are the Teletubbies still relevant? I was about to dismiss the idea altogether when Louise provided some much-needed reassurance. She told me to follow my intuition and just go for it, which is a really good embodiment of our entire relationship.”

Watch Mr Frear’s winning 3MT presentation on the web at

This story is featured in the Summer 2019 edition of UQMedicine Magazine. View the latest edition here. Or to listen, watch, or read more stories from UQ’s Faculty of Medicine, visit our blog, MayneStream.