Lived memories provide an insight into events and activities that are not recorded in written records. The hospital is actively preserving some of these lived memories through oral history recordings with its senior medical staff.

Oral histories with our senior doctors

Interviews with staff active from the 1930s to the 1960s were captured in the mid-1990s during research for the hospital’s history book The Ever Open Door. A project is currently underway to capture the memories of those medical staff practising during the establishment and growth of various medical specialities from the 1960s onwards.

Listen to edited recordings with these doctors as they recount their impressions and experiences. To listen to the full audios or read the written transcripts, contact RMH Archives.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital gratefully acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government and Public Record Office Victoria for making this project possible.

Dr John Andrews - Nuclear Medicine Physician
Dr John Andrews

Dr John Andrews was born in England in 1927 and served as a Navigation Officer in the British Merchant Navy from 1942-48 before completing his medical studies from London Hospital Medical College in 1955. From 1955-57 he held resident appointments at the London Hospital in Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Morbid Anatomy, and General Medicine and Pediatrics at Dover and Folkstone Hospitals. He was also an Out Patient Registrar in Medicine at the London Hospital in 1958 before migrating to Australia in 1959.

Following a time in medical practice in Launceston and Adelaide, he moved to Melbourne to undertake radiotherapy training and work becoming a Specialist in Radioisotopes and then Director of Nuclear Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital from 1966-92. He completed his Doctor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne University in 1979.

‘Over the years therefore I have taken an interest in differing facets of history in general, and medical history in particular, leading to a permanent interest in the subject and the appreciation of why it is important to value past medical achievements in the development of the physician.’

He was also lecturer to medical students at the University of Melbourne and a Consultant on Radiation Safety and Nuclear Medicine to the Victorian Health Department. Among his many professional memberships, in 1969 he was a founder and President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine, and Chair of their Accreditation Board. In addition, he was a member of the committee and lecturer for the Nuclear Medicine Technologists training course of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He is the author or co-author of more than 100 publications in Australian, British and American Journals, including several papers as part of yearbooks of Nuclear Medicine and Radiology.

Dr Andrews was a member of foundation Committee, State Coordinator and Vice President of the Medical Association for Prevention of War and the Australian delegate for the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize presentation awarded to the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War.

He retired from the RMH in 1992 but then worked part-time at Monash Medical Centre and the Royal Children’s Hospital in Nuclear Medicine until 2000.

Listen to interview extracts

Dr John Andrews was interviewed by historian Sarah Rood on 5 July 2017. Listen to three edited excerpts of this interview where he recounts: firstly, the techniques and equipment used in Nuclear Medicine; secondly, his achievements in this area; and lastly, his role in the establishment in the Medical Association for Prevention of War which lead to the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.


John Thomas Andrews: Curriculum Vitae, RMH Archives

J.T. Andrews: My time at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, RMH Archives

Dr John Andrews: ‘My interest in medical history” in Health and History, Volume 10, No 2, page 129

Dr Anne D’Arcy - Emergency Physician
Dr Anne D’Arcy

Dr Anne D’Arcy was Director of the RMH Emergency Department from 1978 to 1995, and had a distinguished career in accident and emergency services both in Australia and overseas. Born in 1938, she completed her medical studies at the University of Melbourne in 1961. She spent two years working as a junior doctor at St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, before going to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for three years, as a doctor and lecturer. She returned to Melbourne in 1967 and worked as a sessional medical officer in casualty departments at the Royal Children's Hospital, Preston and Northcote Community Hospital (PANCH) and the Queen Victoria Hospital, as well as taking general practice sessions.

In 1976, Dr D'Arcy became Director of Casualty Services at PANCH, and the following year was made Director of Emergency Services at Dandenong and District Hospital. She then became Director of Emergency Services at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1978, at a time when she was the only full-time specialist physician, and emergency medicine had not emerged as an important specialty in hospitals.

She was also a short-term consultant with the World Health Organisation on Trauma and Emergency Care in Malaysia in 1986, and in 1987, represented the Australasian Society for Emergency Medicine at meetings in the USA with the Society of Teachers of Emergency Medicine and the University Association of Emergency Medicine. In 1984 she was foundation Vice-President of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine, a position she held until 1989.

After retiring from her position at RMH in 1995, Dr D'Arcy for eight weeks was the medical officer on the ship Aurora Australis on a trip to Antarctica. At other times, she was a District Medical Officer at Derby Hospital, Western Australia, with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and remote area clinics; and relieving in Emergency Departments at Mildura Base Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre and The Valley Private Hospital.

Her career achievements included being a Foundation Fellow of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and receiving the prestigious Women’s Achiever Award from the Women Chiefs of Enterprise in 1992.

Listen to interview extracts

Dr Anne D’Arcy was interviewed by historian Sarah Rood on 16 August 2017. Listen to two edited audios with her as she recounts her experiences as a female doctor in the 1960s and 1970s and also what attracted her to working in emergency medicine.


Dr Anne D’Arcy by Joseph Epstin in Emergency Medicine Australasia, Volume 3, number 1, March 1991, pages 20-21

RMH Archives

Professor Howard Eddey - Surgeon
Professor Howard Eddey

Born in 1910, eminent surgeon, teacher and administrator, Professor Howard Eddey, undertook his residency at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1935-36 following his graduation from the University of Melbourne’s Medical School in 1934. A period at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London followed during which he gained his fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in England, winning the prestigious Hallett Prize in 1938.

During the Second World War he served in the Australian Army Medical Corps and was captured by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore and spent time in prisoner of war camps. During his time in captivity he wrote notes and drew detailed anatomical diagrams on scrap paper that later became the basis for a key anatomy text that was used by generations of medical students.

He returned to the Royal Melbourne Hospital after the war as an honorary surgeon, and also held appointments at Prince Henry’s and the Alfred hospitals. In addition, he was a lecturer in surgical anatomy at the University of Melbourne from 1950-65, and was Dean of the RMH’s Clinical School from 1965-67. As a clinician he gained an impressive reputation as a head and neck surgeon. In 1966, the University of Melbourne established a clinical school at the Austin Hospital and Howard Eddey become its foundation Professor of Surgery. From 1972-75 he was Dean of the Clinical School at the Austin and Repatriation Hospitals and from 1972-77, a member of the Board of Management of the Austin Hospital.

He was regarded as an outstanding teacher and, through his role with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons helped surgical education in South East Asia through examinations and lectures. He was a member of the College’s Board of Examiners from 1958-73, and was Chairman of the College’s Council from 1968-73. He served on many other bodies, including the Cancer Institute and the Anti-Cancer Council. He was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1974. In the years prior and after his retirement as Professor of Surgery, he was involved with medico-legal work and was highly regarded for his opinion and expertise until the mid-1980s. He died in 2004.

Listen to interview extracts

Professor Howard Eddey was interviewed by historian Dr Alan Gregory on 27 October 1994. Listen to an edited extract of his interview as he talks about the RMH as a desirable hospital for honorary medical staff to both build their private practices and assist the poor and underprivileged.


Michael Eddey, Howard Eddey obituary, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery, sighted 8 Nov 2017

Howard Eddey, Biographical Entry, Plarr’s Lives of the Fellow Online, Royal College of Surgeons, England, sighted 8 Nov 2017

The Austin Hospital Clinical School: Twenty-five years of patient care, teaching and research 1966-1991, Chiron, 1992, page37

Dr Joy Frew - Anaesthetist and Blood Bank Physician
Dr Joy Frew

Joyce Frew, nee Bell, graduated from the University of Melbourne’s Medical School in 1937. In 1940, she married Dr John Frew, a fellow graduate of the medical course, becoming Lady Frew upon his knighthood in 1980. Sir John Frew had a life-long association with the Royal Melbourne Hospital, from RMO in 1936, Medical Superintendent 1938-41, Subdean of the Clinical School 1947-55, Honorary Physician 1946-72, Consultant Physician 1972-85, and member of the Board of Management 1954-79 including President from 1973-79.

Dr Joyce Bell, as a Resident Medical Officer at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1938- 39, worked in the Casualty Department and as an anaesthetist. During World War II she worked in private practice in anaesthetics as well as one session a week at the RMH, and one session at the Blood Bank, which started in her hospital ward in 1938.

She was involved in the establishment of the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service and she worked as an honorary medical officer with this service for more than forty years. Her other major activity was with the Royal District Nursing Service, again over many years, holding executive positions throughout this period. She died in 1999.

Listen to interview extracts

Dr Joy Frew was interviewed by historian Dr Alan Gregory on 8 March 1995. Listen to three excerpts as she recounts her experiences as a female resident in Casualty in the late 1930s, her work with the blood bank, and anaesthetics in the 1940s.


University of Melbourne Medical School Society, Chiron, Volume 2, number 1, 1988, page 24

Frew, Sir John Lewtas, College Roll, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians

Frew, Sir John Lewtas, Australian Dictionary of Biography

Dr Bryan Gandevia - Respiratory Physician
Dr Bryan Gandevia

Respiratory physician and medical historian, Bryan Gandevia was born in 1925 and died in 2006. A University of Melbourne medical graduate in 1948, he undertook residency at the Royal Melbourne Hospital before enlisting in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps serving in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan and later in Korean War.

From 1951-54 he had postgraduate appointments at the RMH in pathology, clinical medicine and clinical studies supervision, obtaining his Doctorate in Medicine. From 1954-57 he held research fellowship appointments at the Brompton Hospital for Diseases of the Chest and at Hammersmith Postgraduate Medical School in London. Five year in private practice back in Melbourne followed, until in 1963 he was appointed as Associate Professor of Medicine, University of New South Wales, and Chairman of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Prince Henry and Prince of Wales Hospitals.

Here he was part of a team which managed to turn the infectious diseases hospital into a centre of excellence. He developed an interest in occupational health including industrial health surveys and asbestosis- related disease. He held his university and hospital appointments until his retirement in 1985, after which he returned to private practice until 1998.

Gandevia had a long standing interest in medical history which began when he was a medical student. His research and publication on the history of medicine in Australia had a profound influence on the development of knowledge in this field, and in 1986, he was a founding member, and President, of the Australian Society of the History of Medicine. In 1985 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his work as a Trustee of the Australian War Memorial from 1967-83.

Listen to interview extracts

Dr Bryan Gandevia was interviewed by historian Dr Alan Gregory on 16 June 1995. Listen to an edited extract as he discusses the early use of the drugs penicillin, cortisone and chloromycetin.


Brenda Heagney, “Obituary: Bryan Harle Gandevia”, Health and History, Volume 8, No 2, 2006

Professor William Hare - Radiologist
Professor William Hare

William Hare was born in Ballarat in 1923 and educated at Geelong Grammar, winning a scholarship to Trinity College to study medicine at Melbourne University. But in fourth-year in 1946, he was one of 12 medical students to contract tuberculosis. He spent five years in hospital and was probably one of the first patients in Australia to receive Streptomycin which saved his life. Upon regaining his health, he returned to his studies and graduated MBBS from the University of Melbourne in 1951. He then spent his residency at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1952-53 followed by a two-year period as Radiology Registrar. Further studies followed as he completed a Doctor of Medicine and gained a Diploma of Diagnostic Radiology. Appointment to the RMH as an Assistant Radiologist, after which he rose rapidly becoming Director of Radiology in 958.

As Director of the RMH Department of Radiology from 1958–88, he recognised the need for strong academic leadership in radiology and was instrumental in the creation in 1963 of the University Department of Radiology and the Edgar Rouse Chair of Radiology, the first radiology chair in Australia. As inaugural Chair appointed in 1965, Professor Hare established radiology teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate students, greatly elevating the standard and practice of radiology in Australia.

A world authority in interventional uroradiology he established many practices adopted since worldwide. He served on the Council of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) from 1960-71 and as the College’s President in 1986-87 and in 1971, was foundation President of the Asian and Oceanian Society of Radiology.

Counted among his many accolades were the RANZCR 1958 Thomas Baker Travelling Fellowship, the 1963 Rouse Travelling Fellowship and the College’s Gold Medal, its highest honour. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1990 for his outstanding service to medicine, particularly in the field of radiology. He served on many national and State government department and hospital research committees including the Radiation Safety Committee of the Health Department.

In his later years Professor Hare worked tirelessly to advance the discipline of radiology through his wise counsel and continued teaching, the creation of the Bill Hare Travelling Fellowship and in securing valuable philanthropic funds for the RMH’s Radiology department. Professor Hare died in May 2013.

Listen to interview extracts

Professor William Hare was interviewed by historian Dr Alan Gregory on 14 August 1996. Listen to edited accounts of his experiences as a tuberculosis patient from 1946 to 1950, a condition he contracted while he was a medical student; and also developments in radiology.


Obituary of Professor Emeritus William Samuel Calhoun Hare by Professor Patricia Desmond, RMH Department of Radiology, June 2013, in RMH Archives

Professor W.S.C. Hare, Chiron, Volume 2, no 2, 1989, page 44

Obituary by Brian Tress and Lindy Hare, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 July 2013

Dr John Hayward - Thoracic Surgeon
Dr John Hayward

Renowned thoracic surgeon, John Hayward, was an outstanding figure in the establishment of cardiothoracic surgery in Australia. Born in 1910, he was a gifted student and his education was marked by scholarships and prises and he graduated from the University of Melbourne’s Medical School in 1933 with first class honours in all subjects.

After residency at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, he worked as surgical clinical assistant at the hospital for two years, also teaching pathology and physiology whilst gaining his Doctor of Medicine in 1936 and Master of Surgery in 1937. Specialised training in thoracic surgery in London and the Brompton Hospital followed. In 1941 he joined the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps, serving in the Middle East and New Guinea.

He was the first Honorary Thoracic Surgeon at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, appointed in 1945 until his retirement in 1966, however after this time he continued his work at the Heidelberg Repatriation, Austin, Royal Women’s and Preston and Northcote Community hospitals. In addition from 1975-85, he was Medical Officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Together with Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop he developed new techniques in oesophageal surgery and was expert in closed cardiac surgery, in particular surgery of mitral value disease. A brilliant teacher, he is remembered by a host of medical students and surgical trainees for his clarity, enthusiasm and vibrant, resonant voice.

Active outside the hospital, he was a member of Convocation of the University of Melbourne from 1971-79 and a member of the University Council from 1979-83. His loyalty to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons extended over many years including foundation membership of the Thoracic Section and membership of the Court of Examiners from 1967-76. He also received honorary life membership of the Australian Physiotherapy Association for his support of thoracic physiotherapy and the profession in general, particularly in the years following World War II.

In 1955 he led a team of self-contained Australian medical units to New Guinea, where there was a high mortality rate from tuberculosis. In 1959, under the Colombo plan, he led another team on a lecture tour to Malaya, Thailand and Burma, and subsequently he accepted a number of their surgical trainees on his unit. John Hayward died in July 1999.

Listen to interview extracts

Dr John Hayward was interviewed by historian Dr Alan Gregory on 14 and 16 November 1994. Listen to edited excerpts of his interview where he discusses clinical training in the 1930s and the setting up of the thoracic surgery unit in 1946.


University of Melbourne Medical School, Chiron, 2000

Australian Physiotherapy Association Victorian, Branch Newsletter, September 1999

Obituary, The Age, 3 Aug 1999

Plarr’s Lives of the Fellows Online, Royal College of Surgeons of England

Dr Margaret Henderson - General Physician, Respiratory Physician
Dr Margaret Henderson OBE

Margaret Henderson, OBE MBBS (Melb) MD (Melb) FRCP (London) FRACP, was born in 1915. A much loved and respected member of the medical staff of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, she graduated MBBS from the University of Melbourne in 1938, was appointed a Resident Medical Officer at the RMH for 1939-40. In 1941 was awarded a Doctor in Medicine and worked in medical research and general practice. During World War Two she served as a captain in the Australian Military Forces in 1942-43, and from 1945-46 was with the Red Cross in Malaysia in a civilian relief unit.

Following a time working in London and Switzerland, she became an Honorary Outpatient Physician at the RMH in 1947, and in 1959, became the first woman on the Senior Medical Staff upon her appointment as Honorary Physician to Inpatients, a pioneering appointment she held until 1975.

A highly regarded physician in general internal medicine with specialist interests in respiratory and thoracic medicine, she worked in the hospital’s special lung clinic. She was regarded as an outstanding teacher much sought after by medical students and residents and played a major role as head of one of the RMH general medical units for many years. Upon her retirement in 1981, she was appointed an Honorary Consultant to the RMH.

In addition to her work at the RMH, she was Honorary Physician to the Queen Victoria Hospital from 1943-60 and Medical Officer to Janet Clarke Hall at the University of Melbourne for many years. She also provided outstanding service to the management committee of the Royal District Nursing Service for 18 years.

She received an OBE for her services to medicine in 1976, and in 2005 was made Consultant Emeritus at the RMH, becoming only the second person to receive this honour. In 2012, Dr Henderson was appointed Doctor of Medical Science (honoris causa) by The University of Melbourne. Her strength of character and uncommonly perceptive mind ensured her wide recognition and high regard throughout the medical profession. She died in 2017.

Listen to interview extract

Dr Margaret Henderson was interviewed by historian Sarah Rood on 5 June 2017. Listen to three edited accounts with her: how she became interested in respiratory medicine in the late 1940s; her appointment and role as the first woman on the hospital’s honorary / senior medical staff; and her impressions of the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s conditions and organisational and governance structure following World War Two.


Alan Gregory: The Ever Open Door: A History of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Hyland House, 1998

University of Melbourne, Citation for the award of Doctor of Medical Science (Honoris Causa), sighted 9 Oct 2017

RMH Archives

Professor Richard Larkins - Endocrinologist

Richard Larkins medical research and clinical work was largely in the area of diabetes and endocrinology. Born in 1943, after graduating as dux of his year at Melbourne Grammar, he studied at the University of Melbourne where he graduated as the top student in 1966 with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery. From 1967, his clinical training was at The Royal Melbourne Hospital before he became Assistant Endocrinologist in 1970, his first specialist position. During this period, Larkins carried out research in obesity and after his fourth paper was published in Nature in 1972, he was awarded his Doctor of Medicine by the University of Melbourne. An overseas Churchill Fellowship and Medical Research Council Fellowship followed at Hammersmith Hospital, London from 1972-1974, where he was awarded a PhD by the University of London.

Larkins returned to Melbourne in 1974, and from this time until 1977, was Physician to Outpatients and Senior Associate in the University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine, at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. Following this, he was appointed as First Assistant, then Reader, in the University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine, at the Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg. In addition from 1979, he was also Director of the Endocrine and Metabolic Unit at the Repatriation General Hospital.

In 1984, Professor Larkins was appointed to the James Stewart Chair of Medicine and Head, Department of Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital. In addition, he directed the hospital’s Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology. In 1998, he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne. From 2003 to 2009 Professor Larkins was Vice-Chancellor of Monash University and in February 2017, Chancellor of La Trobe University.

An outstanding researcher, clinical teacher, physician, and inspiring academic manager and leader, Professor Larkins was a member of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council from 1977-2000, and from 1997-2000, was Chairman of the National Health and Medical Research Council.

In 2002, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to medicine and health: as an advocate of increased investment in research, as a contributor to health policy reform, and as an initiator of innovative medical programs and the provision of training opportunities for medical officers in the Oceania region. In 2003, he was honoured with inaugural Consultant Emeritus title at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and 2014 he was inducted into the RMH Research Hall of Fame.

Listen to interview extract

Professor Richard Larkins was interviewed by historian Dr Alan Gregory on 31 January 1997. Listen to two edited accounts as he recounts his early interest in endocrinology; and balancing hospital and university work.


Larkins, Richard Graeme - Biographical entry, University of Melbourne, History of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences, 2012

RMH Archives

Professor Richard Lovell - Epidemiologist
Prof Richard Lovell

Richard Lovell was the inaugural University of Melbourne, James Stewart Professor of Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital from 1955 to 1983. Born in 1918, and educated at St Mary’s Hospital in London where he was awarded his Licentiate, Royal College of Physicians and Member, Royal College of Surgeons in 1941. Following this, he enlisted in the Royal Naval volunteer reserve and spent the next five years as a naval surgeon. After war service, he completed his medical training, graduating Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1946, and Doctor of Medicine in 1949. From 1947, he worked at Brompton Hospital, London before rejoining St Mary’s Hospital in 1950 as a lecturer, during which time he developed an interest in epidemiology.

In 1955, Professor Lovell was appointed as Professor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne based at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Here he created a culture of basing clinical practice on evidence thereby enhancing medical teaching with increased quality and new rigor. Charming, warm and witty, Professor Lovell was an outstanding and committed teacher who allowed members of his team to pursue their own lines of investigation and research. Formal presentations were supplemented by informal brainstorming meetings in which his insight and novel approach frequently led his colleagues to new lines of thought.

During his time as Professor of Medicine, Lovell made advances in research into high blood pressure and optimal treatment of heart attack. His early recognition of the value of cadaveric renal transplantation in the treatment of end stage renal failure led, in collaboration with Professor of Surgery Maurice Ewing, to the successful introduction of kidney transplants into routine medical practice in Australia. Another initiative was combining the results of several medical studies to determine the effectiveness of particular therapies in preventing death following myocardial infarction: a technique later known as meta-analysis.

In 1978, Professor Lovell was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to medicine. He retired from the University in 1983, but continued to contribute to medical research through work as an epidemiologist and administrator with the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria. In addition, from 1982-1988, he was the inaugural Chair of the Medical Research Ethics Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council. He died in 2000.

Listen to interview extract

Professor Richard Lovell was interviewed by historian Dr Alan Gregory on 24 November 1994.

Listen to edited excerpts from this interview as he talks about the early days of the Department of Medicine at the RMH, and his research activities into both malignant hyperpyrexia and blood pressure.


Alan Gregory: The Ever Open Door: A History of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Hyland House, 1998

Obituary, Cancer Forum, Volume 24, No 2, July 2000, page 159

RMH Archives

Professor Ian Mackay - Immunologist
Professor Ian Mackay

Professor Ian Mackay was among the first to recognise autoimmunity and he was a pioneer in the development of immunosuppressive treatment for autoimmune diseases. Research by Mackay and Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet in the late 1950s and early 1960s led to the publication in 1963 of the then definitive book on the topic, The Autoimmune Diseases.

Mackay defined major autoimmune diseases of the liver and devised life-saving protocols for autoimmune hepatitis as well as many other expressions of autoimmunity such as gastritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Ian Mackay was born in 1922 and graduated in Medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1939. His time working in a number of Victorian hospitals was disrupted by nine months spent in a sanatorium for tuberculosis. He also spent time in post-war Germany as a medical officer at a displaced person camp examining refugees for possible migration to Australia.

In 1950 he went to London and developed an interest in hepatology and undertook medical research into liver disease both in the UK and later in the USA, before his move to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in late 1955. At WEHI, he was Head of the Clinical Research Unit from 1963 until his retirement in 1987. The Unit, a joint initiative between WEHI and the RMH, was where he and his team undertook research in autoimmunity as well as cared for patients with autoimmune diseases.

Research included searching for sensitive diagnostic markers of autoimmunity and attempting to develop simple tests for the measurement of immune function.

After his retirement from WEHI and RMH, he established an Autoimmunity Laboratory at Monash University to expand the existing research on autoimmunity and mitochondria. An author of over 700 articles on clinical and experimental research on autoimmunity, in 1981 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for service to medical research.

In 2001 he was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to Australian society and science in biochemistry and molecular biology and in 2014 he was inducted into the RMH Research Hall of Fame.

Listen to interview extract

Professor Ian Mackay was interviewed by historian Sarah Rood on 12 February 2018. Listen to edited excerpts from this interview as he talks about his research on liver disease, the major impacts on research he observed during his working life, and working with Sir Ian Wood, Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Sir Gustav Nossal.


Senga Whittingham, Merrill J Rowley and M Eric Gershwin: ‘A tribute to an outstanding immunologist – Ian Reay Mackay’, Journal of Autoimmunity, Vol 31 (3), 2008, pages 197-200

Professor Ian Mackay, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research website, sighted 26 November 2018

Sir Benjamin Rank - Plastic Surgeon
Sir Benjamin Rank

Benjamin Rank was born in Heidelberg, Melbourne in 1911, educated at Scotch College and graduated in Medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1934. After initial experience as a Resident at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1935-36, he travelled to England for surgical training in the new and challenging speciality of plastic and faciomaxillary surgery. In 1940, he enlisted in the Army, and in 1941, was sent to Egypt to establish a plastic and faciomaxillary surgical unit at the 2nd Australian General Hospital. In 1942, he returned to Melbourne to set up a similar unit at the Heidelberg Military Hospital.

In 1946, he was appointed Honorary Plastic Surgeon in charge of the newly established Plastic and Faciomaxillary Unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, a position he held until 1966. In addition, he was the Foundation Chairman to the hospital’s Board of Post-Graduate Medical Education from 1968-75; Medical Advisor on Policy and Development to the Board of Management from 1971-76; and a member of the hospital’s Board of Management from 1976-82.

In 1963, he established the Victorian Plastic Surgery Unit at the Preston and Northcote Community Hospital. From 1955, Rank was a Councillor of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and was its President in 1966-1968. In 1958, he was appointed Sims Commonwealth Professor of Surgery and in 1965 he became the only overseas President of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons. In 1984, he was instrumental in the establishment of Interplast, a partnership between Rotary clubs in Australia and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons offering plastic surgical expertise and training to South Pacific and Asian nations.

Rank was made a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1955 for his work in training Asian surgeons under the Colombo Plan, was knighted by the Queen in 1972, and made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. John in 1988. Meticulous, creative, a master planner with a sharp intellect and enormous tenacity, Rank is regarded as one of the pioneers of plastic and reconstructive surgery in Australia. He died in 2002, and in 2014 he was inducted into the RMH Research Hall of Fame.

Listen to interview extract

Sir Benjamin Rank was interviewed by historian Dr Alan Gregory on 4 November 1994. Listen to an edited account of how he became interested and gained his first position in plastic surgery in England in the late 1930s.


Alan Gregory: The Ever Open Door: A History of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Hyland House, 1998

Obituary in Chiron, Volume 4, Number 5, June 2002

Obituary in The Australian 4 Feb 2002

RMH Archives

Dr Ron Rome - Obstetrical Surgeon
Dr Ron Rome

Ron Rome undertook his medical training at the University of Melbourne graduating in 1934, during which time he attended the Royal Melbourne Hospital as a medical student.

Following graduation, after a short period at the Alfred Hospital, Dr Rome spent much of his career at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne. He was a Resident Surgeon in 1937, Medical Superintendent from 1938-40. War service during World War II followed with attachments to field ambulances and hospitals in the Middle East. He returned to the Royal Women’s Hospital as an Honorary Assistant Surgeon in 1947, following which he was appointed an Honorary Obstetrical Surgeon from 1948-70. In addition, he was member of their Board of Management from 1966-70 and Chairman of the Executive Medical Staff in 1967-70. He retired from private practice in 1978.

His particular clinical interest lay in the problem of diabetes in pregnancy, and in this, through the establishment and Head of the Diabetic Clinic he exerted a great influence throughout Victoria, achieving widely acclaimed results in standards of clinic practice. He also display a wide concern for the welfare of nursing staff and medical students and served on many Royal Women’s Hospital committees including the Advisory Committee and fundraising activities.

Listen to interview extract

Dr Ron Rome was interviewed by historian Alan Gregory on 7 November 1994. Listen to extracts of his memories of medical changes during his lifetime; and blood banking and the establishment of regional centres in Victoria.


Royal Women’s Hospital Annual Report 1970

Royal Women’s Hospital Archives

Dr Thomas Steel - General Physician, Respiratory Physician
Dr Tom Steel - courtesy Alfred Hospital Archives

Born in March 1912, Thomas ‘Tammy’ Steel was educated at Scotch College and the University of Melbourne, graduating in Medicine in 1935. He served as a Medical Officer at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1936-37, and moved to the Royal Children’s Hospital in 1938, the year he gained his MD degree. As a medical officer at the Austin Hospital in 1939-40, he developed his interest in chest disease, in particular the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. From 1940-46 he served in the Australian Army Medical Corps in the Middle East and New Guinea and Australia specialising in the treatment of chemical warfare injuries.

In 1946, he was appointed Honorary Physician to Outpatients at the Alfred Hospital and in 1947 travelled to London on a Nuffield Fellowship for further postgraduate training, returning to Melbourne to private practice as a Consultant Physician. His particular interests were in thoracic and respiratory medicine. In addition to his duties at the Alfred Hospital, he was appointed a Consultant to the Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg, and to Heatherton Sanatorium.

Active in both teaching and clinical care at the Alfred Hospital until 1972, he was also appointed to the hospital’s Board of Management in 1962, retiring in 1983. He was an active member of the Thoracic Society of Australia, serving on the Victorian State Committee from1958-64, with an appointment to the Melbourne Medical Postgraduate Committee from 1956-1969. At that time he was appointed as Chief Medical Officer in Victoria of the AMP Society until 1985.

He was a wise counsellor and beloved physician known for his devoted and willing service to his patients. He died in December 2000.

Listen to interview extract

Dr Tom Steel was interviewed by historian Dr Alan Gregory on 14 March 1995. Listen to two excerpts as he recounts his memories of residency in 1936-37; and blood transfusions in the mid 1930s.


J. M. Gardiner, Thomas Heron Steel, College Roll, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, sighted 28 Sept 2017

Alfred Healthcare Group Heritage Committee, Faces and Places, Volume 1, 1996

Dr Douglas Stephens - Paediatric Urologist
Douglas Stephens

Born in 1913, for much of his long and distinguished career, Frank Douglas Stephens was a world authority on patho-embryology of developmental processes in congenital abnormalities in the foetus and new-born. His research led to major advances in the treatment of and surgical procedures for abnormalities of bowel, urinary and genital organs.

Graduating in medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1936, he undertook residencies at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1936-38 and later the Royal Children’s Hospital. During World War Two he enlisted as a surgical specialist in a forward operating field ambulance in the Australian Infantry Forces. He was awarded a Nuffield research fellowship in 1947 and headed to London to spend three years at the Hospital for Sick Children (now Great Ormond Street Hospital), where he began studies of major congenital anomalies affecting the quality of life of children. Returning to Melbourne in 1950, he continued his clinical and surgical research at the Royal Children’s Hospital becoming Director of Surgical Research in 1958, as well having an appointment as an honorary paediatric surgeon at the Royal Women’s Hospital. From 1975-86, he worked in the United States with joint appointments as a Paediatric Urologist at the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago and Professor of Urology and Surgery at the McGaw Medical Centre of the Northwestern University.

In 1976 Stephens was awarded the Sir Denis Browne Gold Medal from the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons, in 1986 the Urology Award of the American Academy of Paediatrics, and in 1987 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. In addition, he held a number of honorary positions at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, including Councillor, Treasurer from 1969-75 and editorial secretary of the college journal for 16 years. He died in 2011.

Listen to interview extract

Douglas Stephens was interviewed by historian Dr Alan Gregory on 4 April 1995. Listen to two edited excerpts where he talks about the tradition of medical families at the hospital and his impressions as a resident living-in at the hospital in the 1930s.


Frank Douglas Stephens, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, sighted 28 September 2017

Obituary, The Age, 4 January 2012