Famous Australian Physicians

Some jobs are universally lauded and respected for the intangible stuff attached to them. And rightly so! A career in medicine has always been the noblest thing to do. Besides being one of the best paid professions, it is also the most gratifying of all vocations, albeit a challenging one. Needless to say, doctors and physicians are revered as life saviors. Australia has been home to some of the best medical minds in the world and has produced some world class physicians. And the evolving profile of Australian medical workforce is a testimony that the trend is an everlasting one. Besides being world leaders in kidney transplants and the first ever country to transplant a heart successfully, Australia has marked many medical breakthroughs and given the world many medical role models to look up to. From heart pacemaker to anthrax vaccine and from ultrasound night and day contact lenses, the Aussies surely left the world behind with their contribution to the medical world. Go Through the biographies and explore the timelines, life stories and interesting trivia & facts related to the lives of some of the most famous Australian physicians.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Barry Marshall

Barry Marshall
Famous As: Australian physician
Birthdate: September 30, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Nobel Prize-winning Australian physician Barry Marshall, along with his colleague Robin Warren, proved that gastric ulcers were caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and not by spicy food and other causes as previously believed. Their research made it possible to cure such ulcers by treating the bacteria with antibiotics.

 2 George Pell

George Pell
Famous As: Cardinal
Birthdate: June 8, 1941
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ballarat, Australia

Australian archbishop George Pell had served as the first prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. He had also played professional Australian rules football before stepping into priesthood. He made headlines in 2018, when he was convicted of child sexual assault, though the conviction was reversed later.

 3 Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough
Famous As: Novelist, Writer, Neurologist, Biographer, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: June 1, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wellington
Died: January 29, 2015

Australian author Colleen McCullough soared to fame with her bestselling novel The Thorn Birds, which was also made into a hit miniseries. Fans also lover her Masters of Rome and Carmine Delmonico series of novels. A former neuropsychologist, she has previously taught at the Yale School of Medicine.

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 4 Victor Chang

Victor Chang
Famous As: Surgeon
Birthdate: November 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shanghai
Died: July 4, 1991

Born to Australian-born Chinese parents in Shanghai, cardiac surgeon Victor Chang grew up in Hong Kong, Myanmar, and Sichuan, in the aftermath of the Second Sino-Japanese War. His mother’s death from breast cancer made him study medicine. The pioneer of heart transplantation, Chang was killed in an extortion attempt.

 5 Fred Hollows

Fred Hollows
Famous As: Ophthalmologist
Birthdate: April 9, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dunedin, New Zealand
Died: February 10, 1993

Fred Hollows became a renowned name in the field of ophthalmology after helping thousands of people see by restoring their sight. Born in New Zealand, Hollows later became an Australian citizen. He had initially aspired to join the clergy but had decided against it after visiting a mental institution.

 6 Robin Warren

Robin Warren
Famous As: Australian pathologist
Birthdate: June 11, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia

Robin Warren is an Australian pathologist best known for re-discovering the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Along with Barry J. Marshall, Warren proved that Helicobacter pylori causes stomach ulcers. In 2005, he won the prestigious Nobel Prize in Medicine, which he shared with Marshall. Their Nobel Prize-winning work became the subject of a documentary titled The Winner's Guide to the Nobel Prize.

 7 Philip Nitschke

Philip Nitschke
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: August 8, 1947
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: South Australia

Philip Nitschke initially studied laser physics but later devoted himself to the cause of aboriginal land rights. He then switched to medicine and worked as a general practitioner, before becoming a poster child of the voluntary euthanasia campaign and passing the pro-euthanasia law in Australia, which was eventually overturned.

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 8 Jayant Patel

Jayant Patel
Famous As: Accused of gross negligence whilst working at Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland, Australia
Birthdate: April 10, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Jamnagar, Gujarat, India

Indian-origin American surgeon Jayant Patel had a career chequered with medical negligence. After his medical license was restricted in the US, following a few cases of patient deaths, he was convicted for killing 3 patients at the Bundaberg Hospital in Australia and was banned from practicing in the country again.

 9 Bob Brown

Bob Brown
Famous As: Politician, Physician
Birthdate: December 27, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oberon

Initially a doctor, Bob Brown later became involved with the environmental campaigns in Australia and even co-founded The Wilderness Society. His protests against a dam in Tasmania got him jailed and later elected to the Tasmanian senate. Openly gay, the Australian Greens leader also became a champion of LGBT rights.

 10 Marie Bashir

Marie Bashir
Famous As: Engineer, Psychiatrist, Physician, University teacher
Birthdate: December 1, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Narrandera

Marie Bashir created history when she became the first female governor of New South Wales. A doctor, too, she was initially associated with children’s hospitals and later focused on psychiatry. She also worked for the mentally ill and homeless people from the Aboriginal community of Australia.

 11 Brendan Nelson

Brendan Nelson
Famous As: Politician, Diplomat, Physician
Birthdate: August 19, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Melbourne

While Brendan Nelson initially studied economics, he later switched to medicine and became a doctor. He also led the Australian Medical Association as its president and the Australian War Memorial as its director. He later served as a Liberal Party leader and an Australian minister and diplomat, too.

 12 Edward Dunlop

Edward Dunlop
Famous As: Surgeon, Prisoner of War
Birthdate: July 12, 1907
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wangaratta, Australia
Died: July 2, 1993

Edward Dunlop was an Australian surgeon who was held prisoner by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. After becoming a prisoner of war, Dunlop flaunted his leadership skills, for which he is remembered today. In 1988, he was included in the 200 Great Australians list.

 13 Fiona Wood

Fiona Wood
Famous As: Plastic Surgeon
Birthdate: February 2, 1958
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Yorkshire, England

English-Australian plastic surgeon Fiona Wood pioneered the spray-on skin method of treating burn victims. Before stepping into a medical career, she had aspired to be sprinter. She later became the first woman from Western Australia to become a plastic surgeon. She was named the 2005 Australian of the Year.

 14 Charlie Teo

Charlie Teo
Famous As: Neurosurgery
Birthdate: December 24, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

One of Australia’s best-known brain surgeons, Charlie Teo has been known for conducting operations that other surgeons would avoid for being too risky. Known for his excessively high fees, which have prompted patients to crowdfund operations, he later faced restrictions imposed by the Medical Council of NSW.

 15 Earle Page

Earle Page
Famous As: Prime minister of Australia
Birthdate: August 8, 1880
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Grafton, Australia
Died: December 20, 1961

Country Party leader Earle Page was not just Australia’s minister of health and commerce but had also been its prime minister for 19 days, after the death of prime minister Joseph Lyons. His efforts to bring about a comprehensive national health plan was appreciated by all. He was also knighted.

 16 Ian Frazer

Ian Frazer
Famous As: Australian scientist
Birthdate: January 6, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland

Ian Frazer is an immunologist who is credited with developing the technology behind the HPV vaccine. He is also credited with founding the Translational Research Institute, which aims at transforming scientific discoveries into useful applications for practice. Over the years, Frazer has received several prestigious awards, including the Australian Biotechnology Award.     

 17 Helen Caldicott

Helen Caldicott
Famous As: Physician, Autobiographer
Birthdate: August 7, 1938
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Melbourne

 18 Chris O'Brien

Chris O'Brien
Famous As: Oncologist, Surgeon
Birthdate: January 3, 1952
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Regents Park, Australia
Died: June 4, 2009

Renowned Australian head and neck surgeon Chris O'Brien was also a talented rugby player in high school. Known for handling complicated cancer cases, he was also popular for his charisma in the medical field. Tragically, he was later diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and passed away despite multiple surgeries.

 19 Ferdinand von Mueller

Ferdinand von Mueller
Famous As: Physician & Geographer
Birthdate: June 30, 1825
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rostock, Germany
Died: October 10, 1896

Ferdinand von Mueller was a German-Australian geographer, physician, and botanist. He is credited with founding the National Herbarium of Victoria, the oldest scientific institution in Victoria. He is also credited with naming several Australian plants. Such is his popularity that many plants, animals, journals, and places in Australia are named after him. 

 20 Basil Hetzel

Basil Hetzel
Famous As: Epidemiologist, Scientist
Birthdate: June 13, 1922
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 4, 2017

 21 John James Billings

John James Billings
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: March 5, 1918
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
Died: April 1, 2007

 22 Priscilla Kincaid-Smith

Priscilla Kincaid-Smith
Famous As: Physician, Researcher
Birthdate: November 30, 1926
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Died: July 18, 2015

 23 Max Lake

Max Lake
Famous As: Winemaker
Birthdate: July 24, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: United States
Died: April 14, 2009

A qualified surgeon, who became the first Australian to specialize in hand surgery, Max Lake later deviated to his other interest, food and wine. He revolutionized the Australian wine industry by launching his boutique winery in Hunter Valley and penned books such as Classic Wines of Australia.