In October 1850 Australia's first institution of tertiary education was established in Sydney. The Faculty of Medicine at Sydney University formally came into being on 13 June 1856 and thus is the oldest Faculty of Medicine in Australia and New Zealand. Provision for teaching of Pathology was made in 1883 after funds were made available in 1882 for the establishment of a Chair of Anatomy and Physiology, and for lectureships in subjects including Pathology. Dr WC Wilkinson was appointed as University Lecturer in Pathology in February 1883 and the course taught by him was divided into three parts:

Part I General Pathology: Definition of disease, physiological processes in disease (i.e. inflammation and its sequelae, morbid growth, atrophy, degeneration and necrosis), mechainical and functional derangements.

Part II Special Pathology (including the most important morbid conditions of the principal organs)

Part III Demonstrations and instruction in the modes of preparing for examination of diseases, tissues and organs

Today the curriculum has expanded to provide for the advances and demands of science, medical practice and society.

In 1901 Professor DA Welsh was appointed as Foundation Professor of Pathology. The undergraduate course taught by Professor Welsh to Medical, Dental and Veterinary Science students included bacteriology, immunology, proto zoology, helminthology and haematology. The latter was Professor Welsh's particular interest.

Professor K Inglis (appointed Head of Department in 1936) retired in 1952 and was succeeded by Professor FR Magarey, an Adelaide graduate who excelled as a lecturer and firmly believed in the importance of Pathology as a foundation for later subjects in the medical course. He was actively involved in the planning of the five year medical curriculum introduced in 1973. Professor Margarey was also an active and effective administrator and served as Dean of the Faculty from 1960-65. He was responsible for securing the formal link between the University and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, a link which remains mutually invaluable.

Professor Margarey retired in 1977 and was succeeded by Professor DA Cameron as Head of Department. Professor Cameron had held the second Chair of Pathology since 1968. In addition to his expertise as a Dental Pathologist, he had a strong reputation as an experimental pathologist. He was a pioneer of electron-microscopy in Australia and installed the first electron-microscope associated with the University Pathology Department in 1956. This instrument was transferred to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 1990 and is now used as a shared facility.

In 1956 Professor ES Finckh held the position of Senior Lecturer in Pathology, became Associate Professor of Experimental Pathology in 1962 and Deputy Director of the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (Westmead) in 1971. This was followed by his appointment as Director of the Institute in 1978 and Clinical Professor of Pathology. He retired in 1989 and finished teaching in 1990.

Professor VJ McGovern was appointed Postgraduate Lecturer in 1947, became Director of Histopathology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and in 1977 received the title of Professor of Pathology. He was internationally recognised as a clinical pathologist, particularly in the field of malignant melanoma. He retired in 1980 and, sadly, died in a motor vehicle accident in 1983.

Professor ABP Ng succeeded Professor VJ McGovern as Director of Anatomical Pathology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and as Professor of Pathology in 1980. Professor Peter Russell succeeded him as Director of Anatomical Pathology (RPAH) in 1995.

The Department of Pathology was the first department within the Faculty to appoint a woman to an academic post - E Dalyell as a Demonstrator in 1912. Continuing in that tradition, the first woman appointed to a Professorship in the Faculty of Medicine was in the Pathology Department in 1983 - Professor SE Dorsch. Her major research area was transplantation immunology. Professor Dorsch was subsequently appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (1986) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (1989) before retiring in 1994. Her contributions to teaching, research and administration are sadly missed.

Professor CG Harper was appointed to the Chair of Neuropathology (University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) in 1985 and succeeded DA Cameron as Head of Department on his retirement the following year. Professor Harper's research and clinical experience in the Department of Neuropathology, Royal Perth Hospital, have been apparent in the Sydney University Unit under his direction. In 2006 Professor Harper was awarded an RPA Foundation Medal.

A significant event in the history of the Department was the opening of the Neuropathology Unit on 20 November 1986. The establishment of this new facility, headed by Professor Harper, resulted from combined efforts of the NSW Department of Health, through the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney. The refurbishment of the laboratories was made possible by generous funding to the University of Sydney from the Nathan Roberts and Phyllis Henderson Bequests. As well as its provision of clinical and consultancy services to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, hospitals throughout the State, and the Institute of Forensic Medicine, it is also involved in a number of research programs. These programs significantly augment other established areas of research and aid in the continued growth and development of the Department. The Neuropathology Unit also has responsibilities for medical undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, together with instruction groups which include nurses, physiotherapists and speech pathologists.

In 1988 Professor NH Hunt joined the Department as Senior Lecturer from the Australian National University. In July 1989 he was appointed to the Chair of Pathology that had been vacated by Professor D Cameron in 1986. He succeeded Professor Harper as Head of Department in 1992. His research interests are in experimental pathology and immunology. The Headship reverted to Professor Harper from July 1995 to the end of 1997 and was again taken up by Professor Hunt in January 1998 to the end of 2002. Professor NJC King became Head of Department from January 2003.

Professor CJ Eastman succeeded Professor ES Finckh as Director of the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (Westmead) in 1990 and a Clinical Professor of Pathology.

Associate Professor JMN Hilton was appointed Head of the Institute of Forensic Medicine and Associate Professor of Pathology in 1991. Professor Hilton retired at the end of 2003.

Professor Herson retired in mid-2000. Professor Paul Gatenby was appointed to a Professorship in the Department of Pathology in May 2000.

A notable retiree from the Department was Dr L Arnold (appointed 1965, retired 1998). Dr Arnold had long been the most highly rated teacher of the Undergraduate students and, fortunately for the Department, continued to teach on a part-time basis. Feedback from students in the USydMP made it clear that his skills were undiminished! Dr Arnold retired from teaching at the end of 2003.

Non-academic staff - Professor Officers, Technical Officers, Laboratory Assistants and Administrative Assistants provide a continuity of services and expertise essential for efficient teaching, research and administration. Amongst these, with a long association with the Department, were Mr EJ Smyth (appointed 1965, retired 1994), Mr B Munro (appointed 1944, retired 1992) and Mr GL Morrison (appointed 1964, retired 1998, Centenary Medal awarded 2003). Mr Morrison continues to work for the Department on a casual basis.