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A graduate of University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Penny began her anatomical pathology training at Royal Brisbane Hospital in 1983. In Sepetmber 1985, she continued her training at L'Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades in Paris for over a year. Her final year of training was at Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne after a brief period in Haematology at Royal Brisbane Hospital in late 1986. After obtaining her final qualifications in Anatomical Pathology in February 1988, she worked as a lecturer in Pathology at University of Melbourne, with Dr. Ross Anderson as mentor in neuropathology.
In mid 1990, Penny commenced a neuropathology fellowship at Boston Children's and Brigham and Women's Hospitals in Boston and instructor in Pathology at Harvard Medical School. In September 1992, Penny commenced at St. Vincent's Hospital as Staff Neuropathologist.
Apart from neuropathology, Penny has been in charge of the hospital autopsy service since 1995 and has been the pathologist reporting the ocular pathology from the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. Due to this interest in ocular pathology, she has been a regular tutor to the ophthalmology registrars and since 1996, an examiner for the Royal Australian and NZ College of Ophthalmologists. Penny became Associate Professor of Pathology at University of Melbourne in 2002.