Anna Donald

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Anastasia Katherine "Anna" Donald (née Courtice; 1966 – 1 February 2009) was an Australian pioneer in the field of evidence-based medicine[1] as well as an epidemiologist and company director.

Early life and early education[edit]

Anastasia Katherine "Anna" Courtice was the child of biologist Tony Courtice and Janet Donald (née Hales), then an honours student in Classics at the University of Sydney, born in 1966.[2] Via Janet, Anna is of Anglo-Chinese descent; Anna's maternal grandmother's surname was Dong.[3]

At age 2 years, Anna's parents separated.[2] Following her parents' separation, Anna and her mother lived with Anna's maternal grandparents for a year.[3] Later, Courtice's mother divorced Courtice and married lawyer Bruce Donald, with whom she would rear Anna Donald.[2]

Donald undertook her secondary education at North Sydney Girls High School[2] in Crows Nest, New South Wales and Narrabundah College in Canberra.[3] During this time, Donald distinguished herself from her peers by winning state and national prizes in mathematics and French.[2] Further, she represented Australia in the International Mathematical Olympiad.[2] However, her education at North Sydney Girls was not without issue. In 1981, after Bruce Donald and Janet separated, Anna experienced emotional symptoms and developed anorexia nervosa.[3]

In Year 10, Donald attended school in France for several months.[3] Depressed and disenchanted with her old school when she returned to Australia, Donald then moved to Narrabundah College in Canberra, where she completed Years 11 and 12.[3]

Tertiary education and training[edit]

After completing Year 12 at Narrabundah College, Donald gained entrance to the University of Sydney in 1985, where she resided in Wesley College, University of Sydney[2] and the Women's College, University of Sydney[4] and earned a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in History and Pre-Clinical Medical Studies, in 1989.[2]

During her collegiate education, Donald won the Henry Lawson Prize for a collection of short stories.[citation needed] In addition to this, Anastasia also presided over the 1988 World Universities Debating Championship held in Sydney, at which she met her future husband, Michael Roland Hall,[5][6] a member of the winning debating team from the University of Oxford.[citation needed] Donald was elected to the University Senate (1989),[2] President of the University of Sydney Union (1987–88),[citation needed] and Honorary Treasurer of the University of Sydney Union (1986–87) during this time.[citation needed]

Donald later won the 1989 Rhodes Scholarship for New South Wales,[2][7] becoming the second woman from the state to win the award. Donald's paternal grandfather was also a recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship in the 1930s.[2] Donald attended the University of Oxford in Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, as a member of New College, Oxford, where she read for a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (B.M.B.Ch.) degree.[2] After her medical studies, Donald interned in Oxford and did residencies in other parts of Oxfordshire, England; Glasgow, Scotland; and Kenya.[2]

Following her residencies, Donald attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, during which time she was sponsored by a Menzies Scholarship, a Kennedy Fellowship, and a Caltex Award[3] and where she earned a Master's in Public Policy (M.P.P.).[2]


Donald worked as a doctor and lecturer in epidemiology and public policy at University College London, and on the Whitehall Study on public health.

In 1988, with Dr Vivek Muthu, she founded Bazian, a company which, according to its website, "provides evidence-based consulting and analysis to support the rational assessment, configuration and commissioning of healthcare services".[citation needed]

Medical publishing[edit]

Donald was a founding editor of the British Medical Journal's Clinical Evidence, the Journal Of Evidence-Based Healthcare and Evidence Based Health Policy; and the author or co-author of The Hands-on Guide for Junior Doctors and House Officers Guide To Survival.

Personal life[edit]

In 2003, while living in the United Kingdom, Donald was reunited with Michael Hall, who had become a lawyer. They married in 2005 in St. James Church, Sydney. On 27 February 2007, Donald was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.[3] She and her husband returned to Sydney. In April 2008, she began writing a blog for the online version of the British Medical Journal. Called From the Other Side, it chronicled her living with cancer. Her last post was on 22 December 2008. Donald died on 1 February 2009, aged 42, at Mater Hospital in Crows Nest, a suburb on the lower North Shore of Sydney.



  1. ^ Smith, R.; Gray, M. (2009). "Obituary: Anna Donald". BMJ. 338: b436. doi:10.1136/bmj.b436. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Brown, Malcolm (13 February 2009). "Rhodes scholar fought to find truth". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Anna Donald" (PDF). Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 16 August 2008. 
  4. ^ The Women's College, University of Sydney. (2009.) Together: The Journal of The Women's College within the University of Sydney Archived 11 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine., The Women's College, University of Sydney, 25(1):12.
  5. ^ Michael Roland Hall - CV
  6. ^ Michael Hall - Nigel Bowen Chambers
  7. ^ "Rhodes scholars". University of Sydney. 

External links[edit]