A big thank you to former Bendigo High School student John Griffiths (Class of 1961) who kindly allowed us the publish his letter to the Bendigo Advertiser (31-10-16) regarding the success of his classmates John Forbes, Garry Warne, and the late Geoffrey Shellam, who all graduated in 1961 and went on to become Professors of medicine at universities and hospitals both in Australia and abroad…

Bendigo Education Coup

The recent column by Professor John Forbes (“Mighty shift in breast cancer management”, Bendigo Advertiser, October 25) provides a heartening account of the ongoing progress in the prevention and management of breast cancer – especially with the inclusion of Tamoxifen on the PBS list as a prevention medication.

Clinical trials and research by Professor Forbes and his collaborators over many years played a major role in the development. What your readers may not realise is that Professor Forbes was born in Bendigo and was educated at Camp Hill Primary and Bendigo High School (as it was then).

After completing his medical qualifications at the University of Melbourne and commencing his lifelong interest in trial-based research at the University of Cardiff, he began 30 years of clinical practice and academic work in the Hunter region of New South Wales.

He was retired as Director of Surgical Oncology at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital in June this year, but continues his long-standing involvement in clinical trials based on his championing of international and multi-disciplinary collaboration.

He played a pivotal role in establishing the Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trails Group.

Professor Forbes’ career has been marked by wide membership of the most influential organisations in the field and by the publication of more than 270 clinical and academic papers. He became a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012 and in 2015 received the NSW award for Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year for his work over four decades.

In 2015, he also appeared in the Thomson Reuters list of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds which honours researchers from around the world who have published the greatest number of highly cited papers from 2003 to 2013.

Professor Forbes’ career is a reminder for me of the contribution made by Bendigo Senior Secondary College and its antecedent organisations to the development of our best and brightest young people.

Two of Professor Forbes’ classmates also became professors in medical disciplines.

Professor Garry Warne from the University of Melbourne was Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist at the Royal Children’s Hospital for 34 years.

Another classmate was the late Professor Geoffrey Shellam, who was Professor of the School of Pathology and Co-Director of the Marshall Centre for Infectious Diseases Research and Training at the University of Western Australia. Professor Shellam died in July 2015.

John Griffiths, Kennington.