Robert M. Douglas (doctor)

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Robert Matheson Douglas
Robert Douglas.jpg
Born 8 August 1936
South Australia
Residence Canberra
Nationality Australian
Other names Bob
Education MBBS
Alma mater University of Adelaide
Occupation Physician and professor
Years active 1959 - 2001
Employer The Australian National University
Known for Founder, Australia 21
Board member of Public Health Association of Australia
Australasian Epidemiological Association
Australia 21
Awards Officer of the Order of Australia

Robert Matheson Douglas AO MB BS (Adel) MD MA FRACP FRACGP FAFPHM (born 8 December 1936). He studied medicine at the University of Adelaide, graduating in 1959. In 1968 he took up a position as Specialist Physician and Deputy Medical Superintendent of the Port Moresby hospital in Papua New Guinea.[1]


He was born to Rev. John and Ruth Douglas and was the second of three boys. He attended Newcastle Boys High School and later Fort Street High School in Sydney. He is married to Rosemary with three children and 13 grandchildren. Bob enjoys working on his organisation, Australia 21, writing poetry, reading and spending time with his family.


In Papua New Guinea, he developed an interest in respiratory infections particularly the prevention of pneumonia, which led to work in the US on licensure of pneumococcal vaccine. This interest led to a position with the World Health Organisation, working on programs to reduce child deaths from pneumonia. After working as an academic in public health he became Dean of Medicine at the University of Adelaide, and later Director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, and Coordinating Editor of the Acute Respiratory Infections Group of the Cochrane Collaboration. He is a former President of The Public Health Association of Australia and of The Australasian Epidemiological Association.


In 2001, after retiring as Emeritus Professor at The Australian National University, he founded Australia 21, a non-profit organization. From 2002 to 2012 he was Chairman of the Board and director. With the Nature and Society Forum, he helped to develop SEE-Change, an NGO in Canberra that works to enable Australians to connect with each other and the environment. He is a committed environmentalist.[2]


In recognition of his contribution to medicine, particularly respiratory disease and the development of public health training in Australia, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2000.[3]

In 2006 he was nominated as the Australian of the Year.[4]


  1. ^ "Who's Who Live (Australia)". Crown Content ABN 37 096 393 636. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  2. ^ Canberra Times, 25 February 2005, Global warming.
  3. ^ It's an Honour - Officer of the Order of Australia
  4. ^ Canberra Times, 10 November 2006, p6

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