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Robert Burton

Born 23 September 1943.  Attended Camberwell High School 1955-1960

Robert Burton, surgeon and Professor of Medicine, came to Camberwell High from Canterbury State School. Having shared the Chemistry Prize at Camberwell in his final year, Robert then matriculated in the sciences. He was awarded 1st Class Honours in Chemistry, a 2nd in Physics and he won a Commonwealth Scholarship. In 1967 he graduated M.B., B.S., from the University of Melbourne with 1st Class Honours in Medicine and Surgery and 2nd Class Honours in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He was placed equal first in the final class list. Thereafter, Robert’s life has been a long and very distinguished career in medicine.

He graduated B.Med.Sc (1970), Ph.D. (1977), in Medical Biology and M.D. (1978) in Surgery at the University of Melbourne. During these years of post graduate training, Robert held a number of specialised hospital and research fellowships in Australia and overseas, including Cardiothoracic Surgical Fellow, Cardiothoracic Surgical Unit, Greenlane Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand, and Clinical and Research Fellow in Surgery, Transplantation Unit, Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA. In 1981 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Surgery at Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and in the following year, he was appointed to his present post, as Professor of Surgical Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Newcastle, NSW. In 1982 he was Visiting Surgeon at The Royal Newcastle Hospital, and in 1989 he was appointed Chairman of the Department of Surgery, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle.

Throughout his career Robert has won a number of distinguished honours and awards in Clinical Medicine, Clinical Surgery, Industrial Medicine and Psychiatry, including the Jamieson Prize, the Glazo-Allenbury Prize, the John Adey Prize and the Edgar Rouse Prize. In 1980 he was the first recipient of the John Mitchell Crouch Fellowship, and in 1981 he was awarded the Alan Newton Prize – both honours bestowed by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. He is currently a member of the National Cancer Advisory Committee and a member of the National Committee for Immunology of the Australian Academy of Science. Since 1986 he has been a member of the major medical research granting body, the National Health and Medical Research Council, and in 1989 he was appointed Chair of the National Health & Medical Research Council Project Grants Committee.

Robert’s major research interests over the last two decades have been the investigation of gram negative bacteraemia and sepsis in colon and rectum surgery; investigation in the fields of transplantation and tumour immunology; xenogenetic culture foetal pancreatic islet transplantation and the epidemiology and treatment of malignant melanoma. Since 1982, Robert has been the sole or joint recipient of more than 50 grants totalling well in excess of $1 million with which to fund his research and since 1970 he has written and published over 130 scientific articles and papers. He has given invited addresses, lectures and speeches at twenty or so international universities, hospitals and research institutes. He has also chaired many international meetings of specialists, held a series of visiting professorships and consultancies in Australia and overseas and regularly reviews manuscripts for publication in a number of prestigious medical journals.

Robert has had a rewarding and varied teaching and research career, interspersed with many clinical and hospital service responsibilities, including renal transplants and elective vascular surgery. At Newcastle he has been responsible for the design and implementation, including teaching, of the surgical undergraduate curriculum, which is fully integrated and taught in all five years of the Medical course. He is currently a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (F.R.A.C.S) and a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (F.R.A.C.P). In 1991 he completed a B.A. at the University of Newcastle. His spare time interests are aerobics, opera, cinema and classical music (Who’s Who, 1988).