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Department of Surgery, Alfred Hospital

The Monash University, Department of Surgery is located on the 6th Floor, The Alfred Centre, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne, Australia.

History of the Department 

Monash University enrolled its first medical undergraduates (some 35) in February 1961 with the intention that, having completed their preclinical training they should begin their clinical teaching at Alfred and Prince Henry's Hospital in early 1964. In anticipation of this event Professors for the clinical years began to be recruited. In respect to the Department of Surgery, Professor H.A.F. Dudley was appointed from a position of Senior Lecturer in the Department of Surgery at Aberdeen University to become the Foundation Professor of Surgery at Monash University. His appointment was made in 1962 and in March 1963 he arrived in Australia.

In 1963 Alfred Hospital was still the Clinical School of Melbourne University with a Clinical Dean and, in fact, a Department of Surgery headed by Professor Morris Ewing. With the arrival of Hugh Dudley, Professor Ewing moved to the Royal Melbourne Hospital leaving behind some offices and laboratories of a very ad hoc nature situated adjacent to what is called "old ward 22/23" at Alfred Hospital. None of these buildings exist any longer. Apparently they were temporary buildings built perhaps during the First World War and remained so until their final destruction in the redevelopment of the hospital in the 1970s. Hugh Dudley inherited one member of staff from the Morris Ewing era. This was Jack Nayman, a South African surgeon with enormous vitality whom Dudley appointed as first assistant to his Department.

Clinical work began straight away and the Department was provided with a registrar (Peter Nelson) who subsequently went on to become a visiting surgeon at Royal Melbourne Hospital. In addition some help was provided by Mr. Alan Cuthbertson over a period of months before Dudley settled in.

John Masterton, who was a Senior Registrar in Aberdeen when Dudley was there, was offered and accepted the position of third assistant in the Department of Surgery and he arrived in November 1963. Thus at that time the Department consisted of a Professor, a first assistant, a third assistant, a registrar supplied by the hospital and two interns.

In early 1964 the first Monash medical students having completed their pre-clinical years arrived at Alfred Hospital but were also destined to spend time at Prince Henry's Hospital where the first Professor of Medicine, Professor Brian Hudson, had taken up a position along the same lines as Hugh Dudley. Thus clinical teaching was split between Surgery at Alfred and Medicine at Prince Henry's though in fact medicine was taught at Alfred hospital by the late H.B. Kay and similarly surgery was taught at Prince Henry's by Mr. Joseph Freiden.

At the time of the arrival of the Monash Medical students there were still some Melbourne University students completing their course at Alfred and Prince Henry's Hospitals. They were in their fifth year, and subsequently completed their course in 1965. By 1966 the Monash students had completed their six year course and were the first graduates at the end of 1966.

The Department of Surgery gradually expanded with the appointment of technical staff and graduate research staff. Frank McDermott was the first of such people coming initially to work with Jack Nayman as a research fellow. John Mainland was appointed as an anaesthetist to the Department of Surgery. This was a somewhat unique appointment in that up until then there was no academic anaesthetist in Australia.

Hugh Dudley very quickly, with his colleagues, established that the Medical School building at Alfred Hospital, which at the time of his arrival consisted simply of basement, ground floor, first and second floors, should be expanded to contain not only Administration, Microbiology and Pathology, but a Department of Surgery and a Department of Medicine. Money became available from the University Grants Commission and furthermore a grant of some $25,000 was provided by the Wellcome Trust to establish an animal house in the projected new building. Building began and was completed, and thus the new Department of Surgery came into existence as a building in 1968 when it was opened by Sir Benjamin Rank. A plaque commemerating this is to be found on the third floor of the Medical School. At about this time Professor Barry Firkin joined the Faculty as the first Professor of Medicine at Alfred Hospital. Again, around this time James McK. Watts, who was Senior Lecturer in the Department of Surgery at Alfred Hospital was appointed the first Professor of Surgery at Prince Henry's Hospital. For some time he functioned at Alfred Hospital Medical School until his Department was completed at Prince Henry's.

Hugh Dudley occupied the Chair for just short of ten years, leaving to become Professor of Surgery at St. Mary's Hospital in London. After an interim period during which time John Masterton, now an Associate Professor, was Head of Department, Professor Sir Edward Hughes was appointed to the Chair in 1972. Sir Edward came to the University after already having had a distinguished career as a visiting surgeon at the Royal Melbourne Hospital with an international reputation as a colorectal surgeon. He remained in the Department until his retirement in 1984. Once more Associate Professor Masterton took on the responsibility of Acting Head of the Department of Surgery until the appointment of Professor Paul O'Brien, a product of Monash University having graduated in the second graduate year.  Professor O'Brien came to the Department in 1986 and remained until 2004.

Throughout the period from 1963 until the present, the Department of Surgery has been active clinically and in the research field.  It is worthy of note that the first assistant, Jack Nayman went on to become an Associate Professor but sadly died a few years ago while still being very active as Head of Surgical Services at the Royal Southern Memorial Hospital which he had built up to be a very significant centre of surgical endeavour as well as an integral part of the teaching of surgery at Monash University. Associate Professor Chris Christophi a long standing member of the Department with a strong research interest in liver metastases was appointed Professor of Surgery at the Austin Hospital, University of Melbourne in 2003.  Associate Professor Frank McDermott transferred to the Austin Hospital in 2004.  Professor McDermott made a major international contribution to road trauma research and was Co-Chair and founder of the Consultative Committee for Road Traffic Facilities for over ten years.

The Current Department

In April 2004, Professor O'Brien retired from his position as Chairman of the Department to take up a new position of Director of the newly formed Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CORE).  Professor Jeffrey V Rosenfeld became Acting Head of the Department until he was appointed Professor and Head, Department of Surgery, Central & Eastern Clinical School, The Alfred in February 2006.  Professor Rosenfeld continues as Professor and Director of Neurosurgery. His main research focus is on traumatic brain injury.

Department of Surgery staff continue to provide teaching to Monash University medical students and supervise post-graduate students in surgery and allied disciplines.

Professor Franklin Rosenfeldt who has a distinguished career in cardiothoracic surgery research has been appointed Research Professor.  Associate Professor Bob Salamonsen an anaesthetist/intenstivist with a conjoint appointment in the Departments of Surgery and Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine is working on a number of conjoint projects with Professor Franklin Rosenfeldt.

We have a number of surgeons who are appointed to the Department of Surgery at Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor level who are active in teaching and research. These include Associate Professor Bill Johnson, Associate Professor Tony Buzzard, Associate Professor Don Esmore, Associate Professor Wendy Brown, Mr Peter Evans and Mr Stewart Skinner.  Associate Professor Tony Buzzard and Associate Professor Jeremy Millar have a conjoint appointment with the Department of Anatomy and is helping to further develop the anatomy teaching program for the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

Professor Paul Myles the Professor / Director of Anaesthesia was appointed Honorary Professor in the Department of Surgery on the 1st January 2005, Professor David James Cooper, Director of ICU Research/Deputy Director of ICU was appointed Honorary Professor in the Department of Surgery on the 1st January 2006, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Elton Edwards was promoted to Honorary Clinical Associate Professor on the 1st August 2006 and Carlos Scheinkestel Director Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at The Alfred Hospital was appointed Honorary Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery in 2006.

In 2007 Professor Jonathan W. Serpell commenced his appointment as the new Professor and Director of General Surgery, Central and Eastern Clinical School, Alfred Hospital.

We offer the full range of Monash Post-Graduate degrees including Master of Surgery, Doctor of Medicine and PhD.