Peter MacCallum

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Sir Peter MacCallum MC (14 July 1885 – 4 March 1974) was a Scottish-born Australian oncologist and the co-founder and eponym of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. [1]

Peter MacCallum was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 14 July 1885[2] and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was sent to work at the age of 12. He was able to return to school and continued his entire education through a series of scholarships and part-time work, eventually obtaining his medical degree in Edinburgh in 1914, just in time to join the British Army in France.

During the war, he was awarded the Military Cross and was twice mentioned in dispatches. In 1918, he was badly gassed and perhaps it was a result of ill health that his post war career concentrated on pathology and research.[3]

In 1924, he was appointed to the Chair of Pathology at the University of Melbourne.[4] Typically, he soon directed his energy and concern to one of the greatest medical challenges, the fight against cancer.

As Chairman of the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria from 1946 to 1963,[5] he was influential in the formation of the Cancer Institute in 1949. The first outpatient clinic opened in 1950 bore his name and the institute was renamed the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute - "The Peter Mac" - in his honour in 1986.

MacCallum was knighted in 1953.[6]

His vision created a cancer centre where humanity, caring service and relentless research share equal value. He believed that nothing but the best was good enough in the treatment of cancer. The Peter Mac is living testimony to his belief.

Peter MacCallum died on 4 March 1974 at the age of 88.[2] He had been widowered three times and was survived by three daughters from his first marriage with Bella MacCallum,[7] and a son from his second marriage.


  1. ^ "Our History: About Sir Peter MacCallum". Peter Mac. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Australian Dictionary of Biography
  3. ^ Guest, J.S. "MacCallum, Sir Peter (1885–1974)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Guest. "MacCallum, Sir Peter (1885–1974)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Guest. "MacCallum, Sir Peter (1885–1974)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  6. ^ It's an Honour: Knight Bachelor
  7. ^ "Social Notes". The Australasian. 26 March 1927. p. 54. Retrieved 31 March 2016.