Maddox, Sir John Kempson

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MSurgery 1924 MD 1931 VRD CHM FRCP FRACP AM (Sing) FACP FACC

Sir John Kempson Maddox was a Sydney cardiologist of high repute and respected in international cardiology. He was responsible for establishing the Australasian Cardiac Society in 1951 and the National Heart Foundation of Australia in 1958.[1]

Sir John Kempson Maddox was born in 1901. After completing his undergraduate and postgraduate training in Medicine, he commenced the broad practice of medicine, but soon developed progressive interest in the embryonic specialty of cardiology. As early as 1932, he was instrumental in founding the Electrocardiographic Department of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. An indication of his productivity is seen in the fact that during this pre-war period, he also began the Diabetic and Rheumatology Clinics. After his return from service in the Royal Australian Navy, he realised the challenge and importance of the new advances and investigative procedures in cardiology, and influenced his friend Sir Edward Hallstrom to endow the Institute at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Following this in 1951, John and a small group of his close colleagues made the first move to set up a professional group to advance the knowledge of Diseases of the Heart and to promote good fellowship among those whose primary interests were in the practice of cardiology or in research in this area. Thus the Australasian Cardiac Society was formed, later to become The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.

However, John’s interest did not stop at national levels. With the close support of his friend Paul Dudley White, he played major roles in the foundation of the Asian-Pacific Society of Cardiology and in 1960, he also became President of this Society.

In 1966 he was paid the honour of being elected the President of the International Society of Cardiology; a just reward for his many years of diligent service.

It was fortunate that John’s heavy involvement in these professional organisations had not in any way narrowed his view from wider concepts. He had earlier realised the importance of involving a wider group, both lay and medical, to aid the funding of cardiovascular research, and to disseminate knowledge and guidance to the community as a whole. When the R T Hall Trustees, his close friends, approached him for advice regarding appropriate areas in which to provide financial support, he suggested a visiting lectureship and prize for cardiology and, what was most important, an initial grant to assist the setting up of a Heart Foundation. Paul Dudley White came to Australia as guest of The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand and his knowledge, zeal and enthusiasm lit the torch which John had so carefully been preparing. Later they visited each of the States together, encouraging and assisting the formation of the State Divisions. At this time, John played a major role in determining the primary aims of the Foundation which have remained remarkably stable since. In the succeeding years, he served on a variety of national and state committees. When he eventually retired from active service to give other persons an opportunity to serve the Foundation, he continued to contribute his suggestions, comments or occasionally a mild criticism regarding various activities, usually scrawled on an old envelope.

The Heart Foundation introduced the Kempson Maddox Award in August 1995 in his honour.

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Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Maddox, Sir John Kempson. 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.