Head of School message

As interim Head of the Melbourne Medical School, it brings me great pleasure to present the 2018 edition of Chiron for your enjoyment.

Professor Mark Cook and Professor Geoff McColl

As you may have heard, our highly respected Head of School, Professor Geoff McColl (BMedSci 1983, MBBS 1985, PhD 1996, MEd 2008), has accepted the prestigious and important role of Executive Dean, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Queensland. We are delighted for Geoff, but his absence will be notable, and his presence and contributions greatly missed.

Geoff has been with the University of Melbourne since his undergraduate medical training, followed by internship and residency at the Austin and Repatriation General Hospitals. He then completed advanced training in rheumatology, attaining his Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP) in 1992.

A champion of continuing learning, Geoff completed a PhD examining antigen-specific immune responses in patients with recent-onset rheumatoid arthritis at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in 1996 and a Master of Education in 2008 describing the methods used by clinician educators to improve diagnostic reasoning skills in medical students.

This training proved invaluable to Geoff when leading the development and implementation of the new Melbourne MD in 2008, creating a model unique to Australia that is producing doctors of the future who come with both hard and soft skills and a patient-centric outlook that we need more of in our healthcare system. I am sure the renowned teaching of the Melbourne Medical School and its proud research record were a factor in the Faculty reaching the top 10 in the Times Higher Education rankings this year.

Professor Geoff McColl

Not only is Geoff held in high regard by his colleagues and students, but he is also a respected member of the medical and academic community. He will be missed by many in Melbourne, but his leadership, passion for education and innovation, and his warmth and enthusiasm will be a huge asset to our Group of Eight colleagues in Queensland. It is a nod to our Faculty that other leading institutions look here for their next leaders; but, more than that, it is a recognition of Geoff’s stature in the field and his many and remarkable contributions.

The permanent Head of School position has been advertised and we expect to conduct interviews in the coming months and announce the successful candidate thereafter. Until that time, I am delighted to be the interim Head of School and to assist in the transition to new leadership.

Professor Mark Cook

In this issue of Chiron, we look at the work of the Melbourne Medical School and the achievements of our graduates within and beyond the Parkville precinct. We look particularly at the impact of our alumni who are clinicians and researchers in rural and Indigenous health, international outreach and in learning beyond the classroom.

We take a historical look at the establishment of the Mildura Branch of the University of Melbourne in 1947. The Branch, which accommodated a large number of students and ex-servicemen and women who had deferred their entry into the University during World War II. We feature the recollections of Professor Ian Olver AM (MBBS 1976, MD 1990), whose father Norman Olver (BSc 1942, MSc 1943), a senior lecturer with the University in a career spanning 40 years, taught at the Mildura Branch.

Dr Abe Dorevitch (MBBS 1952, MD 1958) also speaks with us about his time at the University of Melbourne’s Mildura Branch, ongoing endeavours and life’s achievements, highlighting the Mildura Branch’s contribution in training graduates of distinction, despite the alternate and remote location.

We also take a look back to more recent times, in celebrating the Department of Rural Health and its achievements over the past 20 years, and that of the Melbourne Medical School triradiate building. This year, we commemorate 50 years of medical education in the building but also beyond it, with the reach of the Melbourne Medical School extending considerably in the last 50 years, across Melbourne, regional Victoria and beyond.

The continued success of the ReTranslate – Translational Science program is explored; also, we take a look at bush medicine and Indigenous healing practices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the exhibition The Art of Healing: Australian Indigenous Bush Medicine.

On the research front, we consider the advancement of stem cell research and the ground-breaking work of Professor Melissa Little, as well as the international outreach efforts of Associate Professor Max Esser (MBBS 1974) and progress of fellow surgeons in training doctors in trauma management in Myanmar.

Finally, to our reunion program. I am personally very excited by our plans for the first Melbourne Medical School Reunion Weekend, in this my 35th year since graduating from medicine. All Melbourne Medical School alumni will be invited to enjoy Reunion Weekend back on campus on Friday and Saturday, 23-24 November, with events including precinct tours, social and professional development sessions, and reunions.

I hope many of you will join us for some part of our Reunion Weekend program, whether it be for your class dinner, for those in milestone reunion years, or for one of our social or professional events or tours.

To find out more, and to register your interest in attending Reunion Weekend, please visit medicine.unimelb.edu.au/visit/reunion

I look forward to connecting with you at Reunion Weekend in November, if not before.


Professor Mark Cook (MBBS 1983, MD 2000)

Interim Head, Melbourne Medical School  
Director of the Graeme Clarke Institute
Sir John Eccles Chair of Medicine, Department of Medicine