The University honours its medical past
18 November 2005
One of Australia’s pioneering cardiothoracic surgeons was awarded an honorary doctorate at a University graduation ceremony today. Dr Frank Mills, a Sydney alumnus, was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Medicine, honoris causa.
In his citation, Professor Charlie Benrimoj, Assistant Pro Vice Chancellor in the College of Health Sciences, described Dr Mills as “an outstanding surgeon, scholar and teacher” as he listed the 95-year-old’s achievements.
Dr Mills graduated in Medicine from Sydney University in 1933 and trained in surgery in London before the Second World War. He returned to Australia after the war broke out, and entered the Army as a Medical Officer before being captured in Singapore. “He spent the rest of the war delivering high-standard medical care under dreadful circumstances in Japanese prison camps,” said Professor Benrimoj.
Dr Mills developed heart surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in the 1940s and 1950s, and his early results for heart surgery were among the best in the world. He also pioneered surgery on the arteries, and was one of the first people to operate systematically and successfully on the liver.
“He was a remarkable technical surgeon, who taught generations of surgical trainees by his example. But his contributions to the University’s Faculty of Medicine go far beyond his technical prowess. His attitudes have pervaded the training and the practice of influential academic surgeons,” said Professor Benrimoj.
Today’s ceremony was also an occasion to honour another medical luminary: Thomas Peter Anderson Stuart, who is commemorated by the University’s Anderson Stuart Building. In 1882, he was appointed the first Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Sydney which was foundation Dean of the Medical School. He was largely responsible for the establishment of the School of Dentistry in 1901 and was the first president of the United Dental Hospital of Sydney in 1905.
Professor Anderson Stuart was a gold medallist graduate from the University of Edinburgh. During today’s ceremony, his grand daughter, Lady Primrose Potter, presented the medal to the University, which was accepted by Chancellor Justice Kim Santow.