Rick Speare

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Richard Speare
Born (1947-08-02)August 2, 1947
Died June 5, 2016(2016-06-05) (aged 68)
Atherton Tablelands
Known for research on chytridiomycosis[1]
Spouse(s) Kerry Kelly[2]
Scientific career
Institutions James Cook University
University of Otago
Website www.tropicalhealthsolutions.com/rickspeare

Richard "Rick" Speare (2 August 1947 – 5 June 2016) was an Australian public health physician and veterinary surgeon. He is best known for his research on animal diseases, particularly his work on chytridiomycosis in amphibians.[1]

Research career[edit]

Speare worked clinically as both a medical doctor and a veterinarian.[3] He joined James Cook University in 1988 as a research fellow, and was appointed an associate professor in 1991.[2] His research covered a suite of diseases, including paramphistomid trematodes of the agile wallaby, scabies, head lice, malaria, and Australian bat lyssavirus.[1] However, he is best known for his work on amphibian diseases such as salmonella and ranaviruses in cane toads, Mucor amphibiorum in the Australian green tree frog, and, most notably, chytridiomycosis.[1]

Rick completed his PhD on the helminth parasite Strongyloides in 1988 . He published an important book chapter on the morphology of Strongyloides spp. in "Strogyloidiasis: A Major Roundworm Infection of Man", edited by David Grove (1989). Rick performed significant work on the public health control of human strongyloidiasis caused by Strongyloides stercoralis, particularly in Australian aboriginal communities. He was the founder of the Australian National Working Group on Strongyloidiasis.

Speare was Director of the JCU School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine from 2009 to 2012 and taught numerous subjects in the University's Masters of Public Health (Tropical Medicine) program, including Human Parasitology. He also undertook guest lecturing roles at Universities such as Tufts in the United States of America.

In 2005, Speare and two colleagues infected themselves with hookworms to study the body's response to the parasites.[4] Speare was instrumental in founding the Atoifi Health Research Group in the Solomon Islands, to help improve public health in the region.[5]

Retirement and death[edit]

Speare retired from James Cook University in 2012, and was made a member of the Order of Australia in the same year. He remained an emeritus professor and continued to publish research.[1][2] He was also a director of the private company Tropical Health Solutions Pty Ltd, whose aims were to "improve health in the tropics through undertaking applied research to generate evidence for decisions and through building research capacity in local researchers."[3][6] Speare died in a car accident in the Atherton Tablelands on 5 June 2016.[1][2][7] He was survived by his wife Kerry, three sons, two daughters and five grandchildren.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Phil Bishop (2016) "Obituary for Rick Speare – “Grand-Father” of chytrid discovery and research" Amphibian Survival Alliance, June 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "Vale Emeritus Professor Rick Speare AM, PhD, MBBS(Hons), BVSc(Hons), DVSc, FAFPHM, FACTM, MANZCVS" James Cook University. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Prof Rick Speare" Tropical Health Solutions. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  4. ^ Julie Robotham (2005) "Professor's resident hookers generate a gut reaction" The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 October 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Emeritus Professor Richard (Rick) Speare AM" Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Who we are", Tropical Health Solutions. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  7. ^ Grace Mason (2016) "Partner of Atherton Tablelands crash driver charged with drug driving" The Cairns Post, 11 June 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016.