Honorary awards

Dr John MacDonald Grant AO OBE

The degree of Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa) was conferred upon Dr John MacDonald Grant AO OBE at the Medicine graduation ceremony held at 11.30am on 13 April 2007.

Dr John MacDonald Grant AO OBE

The Chancellor the Hon Kim Santow conferring the honorary degree upon Dr Grant, photo, copyright Memento Photography.


Chancellor, I have the honour to present Dr John Grant AO OBE for admission to the degree of Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa).

John Grant graduated from this University in 1945 with the degrees Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery with Second Class Honours. Following his years as a resident medical officer at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, he undertook specialist training in General Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery followed by intensive training in Neurosurgery, a field in which he would make outstanding contributions both nationally and internationally.

Academic achievements have included the degree of Master of Surgery of the University of Sydney, Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Fellowship of the American College of Surgeons, and Fellowship of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine in the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Appointed to the Department of Neurosurgery at the Royal North Shore Hospital Sydney in 1958, John Grant played a significant and pioneering role in its development as an outstanding and skilled service incorporating the renowned Spinal Injuries Unit.

Aware that skilled and timely neurosurgical intervention could save lives in conditions once inevitably fatal, John Grant’s vision and energy ensured expert neurosurgical consultation was available to numerous acute hospitals in New South Wales, as well as to the rehabilitation programs at Mt Wilga Rehabilitation Centre and the Spastic Centre of New South Wales.

Sensitive to the plight of individuals with severe spinal injuries, John Grant visited a number of international services, including the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke-Mandeville Hospital, at Aylesbury, a world centre for the management of paraplegia and spinal injuries. Returning to Australia, a tireless advocate for people with spinal disability, he became the Co-founder of the Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Association of New South Wales, serving as President for many years and subsequently as President of the International Wheelchair Sports Federation, contributing significantly to numerous national and international bodies relating to spinal disability.

Following a successful bid for the Paralympic Games 2000 in Sydney, John Grant undertook the presidency of the Organising Committee of these Games, which won considerable international acclaim, bringing greater hope of participation and dignity to a population whose lives had too often been beset by despair and abandonment. Because of his extensive experience, John Grant was called upon to serve on numerous organisations serving the disabled, including the International Paralympic Committee and on the Advisory Committee to the Australian Government on Sport for the Disabled. Furthermore, John Grant has led the way in teaching and training in this field across medicine and other disciplines.

Throughout a lifetime of distinguished service arising from extensive neurological knowledge, exceptional surgical skills and deep humanitarian commitment, John Grant has been honoured with many awards. These have included - in 1973, appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire; in 1988, the Maengho Medal presented by the President of Korea; in 1990, appointed a Member of the Order of Australia; in 2000, the Gold Medal of the International Paralympic Committee; in 2001, the Australian Medical Association Award for the greatest contribution to Australian Health in the Year 2000; in 2002, Appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia; and also the ESR Hughes Award of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

It is difficult indeed to estimate the lasting contribution which John Grant has made to Australian medicine, particularly through his application of greater neurological understanding in the management of spinal cord damage, and in innovative and courageous rehabilitation.

Chancellor, I have great pleasure in presenting to you, for admission to the degree of Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa), scholar, neurosurgeon, educator and humanitarian, John MacDonald Falconar Grant; and I invite you to confer the degree upon him.