John Loewenthal Society Scientific Meeting

The John Loewenthal Society Scientific Meeting, held in November and April each year, is arranged to encourage discussion of topics relevant to medicine and surgery. The Annual General Meeting is held in association with the scientific meeting, including a formal dinner at which John Loewenthal certificates are presented for outstanding research.

Historical Chairman's address - Professor Ross Smith

Prof Ross Smith

Prof Ross Smith, past Chairman

John Loewenthal graduated from Sydney University in 1938 and like many doctors in those days soon entered the field of war. After undertaking many surgical procedures in the front line he developed malaria-induced jaundice in Egypt in 1942. He was transferred to Melbourne after further illness in April 1944 where he performed a variety of procedures including General, Urology and Orthopedic surgery but concurrently undertook research and was awarded an MS for a thesis on "the clinical use of penicillin" which was awarded in 1946. Despite hostility of some of the surgeons at R.P.A.H., he was appointed honorary assistant-surgeon there in 1949, tutor in surgery (1948) at the University of Sydney and honorary consulting surgeon (1950) at Ryde District Soldiers' Memorial Hospital.

Sir John Loewenthal followed Sir Harold Dew as the Bosch Professor of Surgery at Sydney University in 1956. He was a charming and excellent committee man and achieved great heights in many organizations but I wanted to emphasize his role in fostering research. He was a reformist and outward looking and became the President of the RACS. Importantly he worked to develop surgical research in Australia and helped evolve the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery and was a founder of the Surgical Research Society of Australia.

Nov 2012 award presentation

November 2012 award presentation

He also had an important role in major funding bodies. He was a founder (1960) and national president (1975-79) of the National Heart Foundation of Australia, and a member of the Cancer Council of New South Wales, the National Health and Medical Research Council, and several other governing bodies. In addition, he was vice-chairman of the Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research, and an honorary fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the R.C.S., Edinburgh, the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, and the College of Physicians, Surgeons and Gynaecologists of South Africa.


Therefore in many ways he was influential in the development of the intellectual heart of surgery in Australia and the John Loewenthal Society has been developed to celebrate his influence. The concept, evolved by Professors Harris and Fletcher, of a day to review the research undertaken at the Department of Surgery is very fitting to the John Loewenthal name. I believe he would be impressed with the breadth and quality of the research being undertaken by our up and coming surgeons. He would hope that this experience will foster future concepts which will bear benefit on the community that surgeons serve.

The John Loewenthal Society brings together those undertaking either a Masters of Surgery project or a PhD in the Division of Surgery at Sydney University. Presentations will be given to the group and senior Professors as a celebration of the accomplishment of completing the project and discussing and defending the results and methodology. Further, there will be an opportunity to socialize in the evening at a dinner to award Medals to those presenting their projects.