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Bob Douglas - Emeritus Professor, epidemiologist and environmentalist

Open Access

The Australian National University, Emeritus Faculty Inc.

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CollectionsANU Emeritus Faculty Oral History Project
Title: Bob Douglas - Emeritus Professor, epidemiologist and environmentalist
Author(s): Douglas, Bob
Editor(s): Stewart, Peter
Keywords: Bob Douglas;ANU;Emeritus Faculty;oral history
Publisher: The Australian National University, Emeritus Faculty Inc.
This audio interview, with Professor Bob Douglas, is part of the ANU Emeritus Faculty's Oral History Program, involving retired staff members who were part of the ANU in its earlier years. The Program was initiated and developed by Emeritus Faculty as a contribution to university and community understanding of the beginnings and development of the ANU over the past fifty years or so. Emeritus Faculty has a special interest in this period since the Faculty's membership includes many of the people who helped shape ANU in those early days, to make it the pre-eminent university it is today. Bob Douglas was born in Hamley Bridge, South Australia, in 1936, attended high school in Newcastle and Sydney, graduated in medicine from Adelaide University in 1959 and married Rosemary, a social worker, the following year. After further study in New Zealand and Adelaide Hospital, Bob and Rosemary moved in 1967 to Lae, where Bob took up his life-long interest in public health and epidemiology, and helped inaugurate Papua-New Guinea's first medical school, in Port Moresby. After three years at the University of Pennsylvania, studying pneumococcal disease, he returned to the medical school at Adelaide University in 1973, becoming Dean of Medicine in 1988. From there Bob was persuaded to set up ANU's National Centre for Epidemiology and Public health (NCEPH), which he counts as his most significant professional achievement, then played a key role in setting up ANU's Medical School, which was launched in 2004. In his time as Director of NCEPH, Bob Douglas also took a keen interest in indigenous health. He persuaded scholars of the calibre of Steve Kunitz and Aileen Plant to join him in this endeavour, establishing a masters program in Indigenous public health . Just before his retirement in 2001, NCEPH laid out plans for a controlled heroin trial in the ACT. For political reasons the trial did not proceed, but Bob continues in his retirement to attempt to re-open debate on this important aspect of public health in Australia. In 2000, Bob was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to medicine, and in 2008 he shared the ACT Conservation Council's Supreme Green Hero award. In 2011 he was named the ACT Environmental Volunteer of the Year. Since retirement Bob has helped established SEE-Change ACT, which promotes an understanding of environmental and social issues surrounding climate change, and their impact at local community and school levels. Bob published and widely distributed a manual - Imagining a Sustainable Canberra - for use by teachers and senior students in schools in the ACT. In 2010 he helped create the Transform Australia Network, as part of which he is a designated "catalyst". Bob and Rosemary Douglas take great pride in the achievements of their children (John, an engineer and entrepreneur; Charlie, a surgeon and ethicist; and Kirsty, an academic GP and indigenous health worker). In active retirement, Bob and Rosemary continue to live in their family home in Aranda, ACT.


File Description SizeFormat Image
ANUEF_OHP_Bob_Douglas.mp3Interview Audio File48.17 MBUnknown
ANUEF_OHP_Bob_Douglas.htmlBiographical Introduction and Interview Abstract14.52 kBHTML
ANUEF_OHP_Bob_Douglas.jpgPhotograph25.83 kBJPEG ImageThumbnail

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