Honorary awards

Professor Judith Ann Whitworth AC

The honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine was conferred upon Professor Judith Ann Whitworth AC, MB BS MD PhD MD DSc Melb, FRACP, at a conferring of degrees ceremony held on 16 April 2004.

Citation

Chancellor, I have the honour to present Professor Judith Ann Whitworth, AC, MB BS, MD, PhD, DSc (Melbourne), FRACP, for admission to the degree of Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa).

Professor Whitworth is one of Australia’s most distinguished medical research scientists, currently the Director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University. In this role, and in her previous appointments, Professor Whitworth has influenced the development of policy for health and medical research in Australia and internationally, and she has continued to make major contributions to medical research administration.

Professor Whitworth graduated in Medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1967, and trained in Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and subsequently Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, before proceeding overseas for postdoctoral experience in France. She was awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1974 and then undertook full-time research for a PhD at the Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine in Melbourne. She graduated with her PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1978, and was appointed to the staff of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In 1987 she became a professorial associate at the University of Melbourne and in 1990 Deputy Director of the Department of Neurology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In 1991 she took up appointment as Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales and Head of the Department of Medicine at St George Hospital. She was awarded the degree Doctor of Science from the University of Melbourne in 1992. In 1997 Professor Whitworth was appointed Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health and Family Services of the Commonwealth of Australia, but resigned in 1999 when she was invited to become Director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University. In 2002, she was Telstra ACT Business Woman of the Year, Honorary Ambassador for Women, and Honorary Ambassador for Canberra.

She served as President of the Australian Society of Medical Research in 1984 and on the Council of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians from 1984 to 1993. In 1990 she became Chair of the Nomination Committee of the International Society of Nephrology, and from 1991 to 1996 she served on the Medical Research Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, chairing the Committee from 1994 to 1996. From 1992 to 2000 she served as Councillor of the International Society for Hypertension, and from 1999 to 2001 she served as President of the High Blood Pressure Council of Australia. In 2000 she became a member of the World Health Organization Local Advisory Committee on Health Research.

This service has been recognized by a number of prestigious awards - the Smith Kline and French Award of the International Society of Hypertension in 1984, the Howard Florey Medal in 1990 and the Medal of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1994. For her services to the advancement of academic medicine and as a major contributor to research policy and medical research administration, Professor Whitworth was appointed Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2001, and was awarded the Centenary of Federation Medal in 2003.

This brief biography indicates the enormous impact that Professor Whitworth has had on medical research in Australia over the last 2-3 decades. It also indicates exceptional administrative capacity. Judith Whitworth is a person of very high integrity, who is admired by all who work with her. Her career has varied from running a major clinical service in nephrology, heading a university department of medicine, serving in senior government administration, to directing one of the most prestigious medical research institutions in the country. A common thread joins all of these activities: her commitment to medical research and the furtherance of academic medicine. She has excelled in each of these areas of endeavour, with achievements in each that few others could make. In addition, her personal research efforts have not been allowed to falter, and she continues to make distinguished contributions of international importance in understanding the mechanisms of high blood pressure.

Chancellor, I have great pleasure in presenting to you clinician, medical research scientist and medical research administrator, Judith Ann Whitworth for admission to the degree of Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa) and I invite you to confer the degree on her.