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Malcolm Whyte - clinical scientist and community health activist

The Australian National University, Emeritus Faculty Inc.

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CollectionsANU Emeritus Faculty Oral History Project
Title: Malcolm Whyte - clinical scientist and community health activist
Author(s): Whyte, Malcolm
Stewart, Peter
Keywords: Malcolm Whyte
Emeritus Faculty
oral history
Publisher: The Australian National University, Emeritus Faculty Inc.
Henry Malcolm Whyte was born in India in 1920, of Australian Protestant missionaries. He went to school in Sydney and Ipswich, Queensland, then studied medicine and science at the University of Queensland. He graduated top of his year in 1944, with a university medal for outstanding academic performance and a Rhodes Scholarship. After war service with the Army in Borneo and the Celebes, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Physiology at the University of Queensland, then in 1947 took his Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, where he gained a DPhil, won membership of the Royal College of Physicians, and added a second child to his family. He returned to Australia in 1952 as Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the Kanematsu Institute at Sydney Hospital, and undertook comparative studies of heart disease in Australia, where the disease was rife, and the Highlands of Papua and Guinea, where it was not. In 1966, he was appointed Foundation Chair of Clinical Science in the John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU, combining hospital medicine and basic research. Soon after, he helped in the planning for an undergraduate medical school at ANU, but a decade later that project was pigeon-holed. In 1977, he switched to social and behavioural aspects of medicine and was appointed coordinator of the community-based Alcohol and Drug Dependence Unit within the ACT Health Commission, working closely with such field agencies as the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul Society, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Alanon. From there he became Consultant in Community Health in the Northern Territory Department of Health in 1984, mentoring and training community health workers. Returning to Canberra from the Northern Territory a year later, the 65-year old Malcolm became active in the Red Cross Blood Bank, the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service, the Canberra Marriage Counselling Service, Lifeline Canberra, and the Ethics Committee of the Australian Institute of Health. He coordinated a review of Health Services in South Australia, and was appointed Commissioner of Complaints for the NHMRC. Malcolm was elected an Emeritus Professor of the ANU in 1980, awarded an Honorary MD in the University of Queensland in 1986, and appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1991. He has published widely on his medical, scientific, and community interests. He is now 91 years old and retains a keen and active interest in a number of fields of science and medicine.


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