Kronenberg, Harry

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MB BS 1952 DCP 1956

Harry Kronenberg has been one of the major contributors to the establishment of haematology as a speciality in Australia. He was the first appointed Haematologist at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Harry was born in 1926 in Melbourne, but studied medicine at the University of Sydney. After graduating in 1952 he completed his residency at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH), where he was to have a career-long association. Over the next several years, he worked as a Registrar and then as a Registrar in Pathology at the hospital. He passed his DCP in Sydney in 1956 and a year later was appointed as the first Haematologist at the RPAH.

Harry was made a member of the recently established Royal College of Pathologists of Australia, and of the Royal Australasian College of Pathologists in. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) in 1967. Although his position was initially mainly in the laboratory, he developed a heavy consultation component with the general medical service of S J M Goulston. In the mid 1960s Charles Blackburn invited Harry to make use of unfettered beds for his haematology patients within his ward. Later a new ward was set aside for the haematology service. Edward Sage comments:

Harry was a well-balanced and complete haematologist, who managed his laboratory responsibilities whilst maintaining a very large patient care commitment throughout his career…He believed that without a strong and knowledgeable background of laboratory training it was not possible to practice in the laboratory or clinically as a haematologist at teaching hospital level. In later years he added an insistence on an adequate exposure to transfusion medicine also.[1]

Harry’s initial commitment was to the Board of Education of the Royal College of Pathologist (RCPath(UK)) in 1965. In his first term on this committee, he became Secretary, then Chairman, serving until 1977. In 1966, he was invited to become an Examiner in Haematology for the RCPA, a role he performed for the next 12 years. In 1966 Harry was made Consultant Haematologist to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, a position he still holds, and became a Fellow of the RCPath (UK) in 1969.

Following the 1966 Congress of the International Society of Haematologists (ISH), Sydney, in which he had been significantly involved, Harry was elected to the Council of the Haematology Society of Australia, on which he served as Secretary-Treasurer and then Vice President until 1971. He was President from 1971 to 1973. For a number of years from 1970 to 1985, he was a Consultant Haematologist to the Concord Repatriation Hospital in Sydney. He resigned when this hospital’s own service had become self-sufficient. The first overt evidence of his obvious interest in blood transfusion services came when he became Chairman of the New South Wales Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service Scientific Committee in 1971, remaining on the Committee until 2001, when he retired.

In April 1973, Harry was on the initial committee convened by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians to form an ‘Advisory Committee for Advanced Training in Haematology’. After discussing the interim guidelines with a similar group also under the auspices of the RCPA, the first Joint Specialist Advisory Committee (JSAC (Haematology)) of the Royal Colleges met to establish the components of the advanced training program in haematology. Harry was chairman and remained in this position until 1990.

Harry was fully involved in the RCPA from 1978 to 1984. During this time he held the two key positions of being Chairman of the Board of Education and Chief Examiner in Haematology. He was thereby involved at all levels and stages from overseeing the training, and the assessment of trainees, to ensuring the maintenance of standards and the quality of graduating haematologists.

Harry channelled his interests and time into blood transfusion in the latter part of his career. In 1980, he became President of the Australasian Society of Blood Transfusion (ASBT) and remained so until 1982, when he stepped down to be Vice President through 1983. In 1984 he returned to being President and remained so through 1987. His involvement at the time was an important one as in 1986 the ASBT co-hosted the combined XXIth Congress of the ISH and the XIXth Congress of the International Society of Blood Transfusion in Sydney.

During his career he was a co-author on over 100 scientific publications. In 1996 the ASBT asked Harry to present the Ruth Sanger Oration at the annual meeting. He was made an AM in 2001 for the expansion of haematology services at his hospital, for services to transfusion medicine and to the fields of education and professional development. Harry was made a distinguished fellow of the RCPA in 2000.

“A man of great cultural pursuits, especially perhaps as an avid short story reader of literature, but also of music, he has left an important legacy in laboratory haematology.”

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Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Kronenberg, Harry. Faculty of Medicine Online Museum and Archive, University of Sydney.

An alternate version appears in: Mellor, L. 150 Years, 150 Firsts: The People of the Faculty of Medicine (2006) Sydney, Sydney University Press.