Prof. John Ludbrook MBChB FRACS ChM MD DSc
30 August 1929 - 9 June
John Ludbrook undertook medical
studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin, and showed an early
interest in medical research by completing a B.Med Sci with no less
than Jack Eccles, a Nobel Laureate. His residency training was at
Green Lane Hospital, Auckland, with Douglas Robb. He received a NZ
Universities Travelling Scholarship and a Leverhulme Research
Fellowship, which allowed him to continue his post graduate
surgical studies at St Mary's Hospital with Charles Rob, the
celebrated pioneer of vascular surgery.
Following some time in a 'cutting job' at the Norfolk and
Norwich Hospital to develop his surgical skill, he returned to New
Zealand in 1959 as an Assistant in the Department of Surgery,
University of Otago in Dunedin, under the guidance of Gus Fraenkel
(later inaugural Dean of Medicine at Flinders University,
In 1964 he became the Professor of Surgery at the University of
New South Wales, and then in 1968 he succeeded Dick Jepson as the
Dorothy Mortlock Professor of Surgery at the University of
Adelaide. He introduced a strong appreciation of basic medical
research to that department in his chosen specialty of vascular
surgery. His enthusiasm for medical sciences led to a 1 year
sabbatical in Milan, Italy in 1975, with Guiseppe Mancia and
Alberto Zanchetti at the Istituto di Ricerche Cardiovasculari,
University of Milan.
In 1981 he moved into full-time research by becoming the
Associate Director of the Baker Medical Research Institute, and
then a Senior Principal Research Fellow in the Department of
Surgery at the University of Melbourne.
Retirement was not on John's agenda, and in 1997 he then
followed what had previously been an avocation and undertook a new
professional pathway, and proudly became a qualified statistician
(A. Stat.). This allowed him to bridge the divide between
theoretical statistics and clinical research, and in this way he
continued to have a major impact on medical research, and on
emerging clinical researchers.
The overwhelming theme expressed by former students, colleagues
and friends is of the enduring impact of a man dedicated to
medicine and science, a man who was never satisfied with anything
less than excellence, and a man with an insatiable curiosity and a
life-long passion for knowledge and learning. This is perhaps best
encapsulated by the words of a former student, Prof. Warwick
Anderson, an internationally successful figure, who recently said
"I owe so much to (John) in my own career. No one has been more
helpful and influential, and I will be forever grateful".
John was active in the College, being a member of Council for 12
years, Chair of the Board of Examiners (1977-79), and
Vice-President in 1982.
John Ludbrook was born in Auckland New Zealand on the
30th of August 1929, to Ailsa Burns and Samuel Ludbrook.
Samuel was the first specialist paediatrician in New Zealand, with
a busy private and public practice, and a special interest in
John excelled academically, attending Kings School and later
Wanganui Collegiate School, where he graduated as Dux. Whilst this
instilled a life-long interest in learning in the Sciences and
Arts, he always remained quietly proud of his school prizes in both
Divinity (?) and Boxing.
He married Margot Hardie in 1955, and they had three children,
Geraldine, Guy and Alice. He later married Judith Whitworth, and
they had one daughter, Emma.
The year of full time research in Milan, Italy had a major
impact on both John and his family, with a life-long interest in
all things Italian. John, Margot and their eldest daughter
Geraldine, all studied Italian at university. Margot went on to
teach and develop curricula at a secondary school level, and
Geraldine is a linguist and professor at the University of Venice.
John became fluent in Italian and was a passionate student of the
finer points of language.
John retained a keen intellect and an interest in science and
the arts until the last days of his life, and he passed away
peacefully on 9 June 2017.
This obituary was kindly provided by Prof. Guy