80 Years of Strength and Healing

16 May 2016

Revered for its healing powers and renowned for its strength and longevity, the oak tree is a fitting symbol for any 80th anniversary. But for UQ’s Medical School, which celebrates 80 years of teaching medicine in 2016, the oak tree symbol is particularly powerful.

Having graduated more than 13,000 students over its 80-year history, UQ’s Medical School has a deep-rooted history in Queensland and an enduring connection to the state’s medical community and to its medical teaching and research. The tree’s roots represent the school’s strength during times of war and rapid technological advancement, while its branches tell a story of the many generations of families who have commenced their medical careers at UQ, and of the networks that have been built locally and globally to create one of the world’s truly great medical teaching institutions.

The first seeds were sown in 1936 when UQ’s Faculty of Medicine was established and the inaugural cohort of students entered Queensland’s only complete medical course at that time. Classes were held in various hastily adapted old buildings across the city, until the purpose-built Mayne Medical School at Herston was officially opened in 1939.

The establishment of Queensland’s first medical school was largely thanks to Ernest Sandford Jackson, Ernest James Goddard, James Vincent (JV) Duhig and Errol Solomon Meyers – collectively known as the “Founders” – who were instrumental in convincing the Forgan Smith government to fund the construction of the Mayne Medical School despite recommendations to the contrary. Their legacy continues across the UQ campus, with buildings bearing their names as tribute to their enduring ties to the University.

Since then, the school has grown to become a global medical school delivering Australia’s largest medical program, leading and inspiring the development of people and knowledge that are transforming healthcare both at home and abroad.

The school has branched out across Queensland, with nine state-of-the-art clinical schools and close links with Brisbane’s major hospitals and health services throughout the state, ensuring students are at the forefront of clinical teaching and practice. Cutting-edge facilities such as the $25 million Herston Imaging Research Facility and labs in the Translational Research Institute are also helping attract world-class researchers.

The school’s reach has also extended internationally, with two clinical schools located in New Orleans (USA) and Brunei, offering medical students a unique opportunity to be part of a global medical school experience (see page 15 to read more about UQ’s partnership with the Ochsner Health Care System in the US).

Dean of Medicine Professor Darrell Crawford (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) ’81) said the 80-year anniversary of teaching medicine at UQ provided a great opportunity to reflect on the University’s long and distinguished history of health and medical leadership.

“We are proud to celebrate our 80-year anniversary of teaching, and continue to be the leading provider of medical education and research within our state, and globally,” Crawford said.

“I am especially proud of the more than 2500 unpaid clinicians – mostly alumni – who teach into the medical program and pass on their broad experience to a new generation of learners.”

Distinguished alumni include business leader, UQ Deputy Chancellor and current Acting Chancellor Dr Jane Wilson (MBBS ’81); former rugby player and eminent ophthalmologist Dr Mark Loane (MBBS ’77); and prominent cardiologist Dr Gary Roubin (MBBS ’75) who invented the coronary stent. The school is also home to world-renowned researcher Professor Ian Frazer AC, former Australian of the Year and co-inventor of the Gardasil® cervical cancer vaccine.

Crawford said philanthropy had also played a significant role in the school’s growth.

“Generous donations have enabled us to increase our research capacity, establish several academic positions and support student activities, as well as reward and support our brightest and most deserving students,” he said.

“These contributions are helping us make a positive and lasting impact on the health of individuals and communities worldwide.”

Gala Dinner

Throughout 2016, the Medical School’s many achievements over its impressive 80-year history will be celebrated through a series of events, culminating in a Gala Dinner in August.

One of the biggest gatherings of medical professionals in Queensland’s history will take place at a special anniversary gala dinner at Brisbane City Hall on 27 August 2016. Join us for a black tie evening of elegance, with a three-course dinner, premium drinks, and entertainment from Rush Band and musicians from the Queensland Medical Orchestra as we celebrate the 80-year anniversary of Queensland’s oldest medical school.

For more information and to RSVP, please visit 80-years.medicine.uq.edu.au.


Pathology in the Blood


Following in the family footsteps may not be unusual, but descendants of James Vincent (JV) Duhig, one of the “Founders” of UQ’s Medical School and UQ’s inaugural Professor of Pathology (1938–47), have taken it one step further.

With 12 of his extended family across three generations having studied medicine, most of them at UQ, six have gone on to specialise in pathology.

“For us growing up around our dad, pathology was just part of family life,” said JV’s son Dr Robert Duhig (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) ’55), whose late brother James (MBBS ’46) was also a pathologist.

“I remember always really wanting to do pathology from an early age – it was ingrained in our lives: we were surrounded by it.

“I even remember my father growing a kind of Mexican bean on a huge trellis in the garden that he ground up in the laboratory to perform kidney function tests!”

Robert’s children, Dr James Duhig (MBBS ’86) and Dr Edwina Duhig (MBBS ’89), are also pathologists, as is JV’s nephew Dr Rod Conrad (MBBS ’85) and JV’s brother-inlaw, Dr George Taylor (who completed his medical degree elsewhere).

“We both did school work experience and uni holiday jobs in the labs,” James said.

“For us, the laboratory was a familiar family environment.”

Edwina wonders if there are other families with as many members in a single specialty.

“When I’ve talked to people overseas, they have never heard of seven people in a family in pathology,” she said.

“I would think it would have to be one of the biggest families of one medical specialty in Australia and I feel proud of the contributions that our family has made.”

And all from the inspiration of one JV Duhig (1889–1963), a graduate of the University of Sydney who studied pathology in London and, upon his return to Australia in 1920, established pathology laboratories at the Mater Misericordiae and Brisbane General hospitals, later becoming a strong advocate for vaccination.

As part of its 80-year anniversary celebrations, the UQ Medical School is running a Family Tree Project to uncover the many family connections among UQ’s medical alumni, some of which will be showcased at the Gala Dinner in August.

If you have a family story you would like to share, please visit the website at 80-years.medicine.uq.edu.au.