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Robert Matheson Douglas

Born: 1936 AD
Currently alive, at 84 years of age.


1936 Robert Matheson Douglas was born in South Australia.


1959 He graduated in medicine at the University of Adelaide.


1967 he took up a position as Specialist Physician and Deputy Medical Superintendent of the Port Moresby hospital in Papua New Guinea. In PNG he developed an interest in respiratory infections particularly the prevention of pneumonia, which led to work in the USA on licensure of pneumococcal vaccine. This interest led to a position with the World Health Organisation, working on programs to reduce child deaths from pneumonia. After working as an academic in public health he became Dean of Medicine at the University of Adelaide.


1989 became Director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, at The Australian National University in Canberra.

1995 became Coordinating Editor of the Acute Respiratory Infections Group of the Cochrane Collaboration. He is also a former President of The Public Health Association of Australia and of The Australasian Epidemiological Association.


2000 In recognition of his contribution to medicine, particularly respiratory disease and the development of public health training in Australia, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia.


2001 after retiring as Emeritus Professor at The Australian National University, he founded Australia 21 – a non-profit organisation developing research networks on issues of importance to Australia’s future. He is currently Chairman of the Board.


2006 he was nominated as the Australian of the Year.


Along with the Nature and Society Forum he is also exploring the feasibility of developing some prototype SEE-change centres in Canberra. This is a new mechanism to enable Australians to connect with each other and the environment and to refurbish our spirit, our hope and our understanding of the future. A place where ordinary Australians have the opportunity to debate and consider new directions for our society.


2007 now the proud grandfather of 11 grandchildren. In his spare time, Bob enjoys working on his organisation, Australia 21, writing poetry, reading and spending time with his family.