History

The SPHPM came into being on April 1 2008. Under direction from the new Dean, the school was created to give the faculty a public health presence in the fast growing public health arena.  Professor John McNeil has served as Head of SPHPM since its formation in 2008, previously serving the position of Head of Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine.

The predecessor of Monash's School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine was the Department of Social & Preventive Medicine which was inaugurated at Monash University under its foundation Professor and Head, Dr Basil Hetzel in June 1968. The original Department boasts an extraordinary array of outstanding alumni including Professors Tony McMichael (now Australian National University), the late Chris Silagy and also Richard Southby (now Executive Dean Emeritus, George Washington University Medical Centre, USA).  From 1968, the original Department grew to become the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, and since 1 April 2008, the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. The Monash School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (SPH&PM) is now one of the largest Schools of Public Health in the Asia Pacific Region.

The School is primarily co-located at the Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct (AMREP) in Melbourne, with staff at other locations throughout Melbourne and elsewhere, as well. AMREP is located just south of the Melbourne city centre, close to the business hub of St Kilda Road and well known shopping precincts including Chapel Street, Prahran Market and St Kilda. It is well-served by public transport. The Monash School of Public Health collaborates extensively with medical research institutes, government departments, NGOs and hospital departments throughout Australia and globally. It has particularly strong collaborations with many institutes and other Schools of Public Health around the Asia Pacific Region and it currently hosts for the Directorate for the Asia Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health.

The AMREP precinct is home to one of Australia's largest and best supported applied research environments that also includes several of Australia's largest and most prestigious research institutes, including the Baker-International Diabetes and Burnet Institutes. The Monash Institute of Health Services Research (now the Monash Applied Research Stream) which is also part of SPH&PM, is located in the grounds of Southern Health in Melbourne, providing similar opportunities. SPH&PM is also home to the internationally renowned Australasian Cochrane Centre, the federally-funded organisation for training and communication for the many Cochrane Groups throughout Australia and the region.

The School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at The Alfred Centre celebrated the naming of their two Meeting rooms in honour of Dr Basil Hetzel AC, Foundation Professor of Social & Preventive Medicine and the late Prof Louis Opit, second Professor of Social and Preventive Medicine, on Thursday 11th August 2011.

Read more about the Opit and Hetzel naming ceremony

Thomas Sidney Selwood joined the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (as DEPM was previously named) in October 1973 as a Lecturer.    He was jointly appointed to set up and manage the First Year Teaching Program.  Tom,  born 07.04.1940, passed away on 13.03.2012 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s several years ago.  We thank Tom for his many years of dedication to the department.

View Toms memorial notice

damien jolleyDamien Jolley
Biostatistician
23-3-1954 – 15-2-2013

Medical researcher and statistician Associate Professor Damien Jolley, who has died aged 58, was renowned for his wit, his ability to mentor and train young colleagues, and his intelligence, which was appreciated internationally.

His mentoring role came about during his time at the Monash Institute of Health Services Research, after the institute submitted a paper to the British Medical Journal. It was returned with extensive comments that Damien thought unnecessary. As a result of a long correspondence that followed, he took on the task of mentoring and training the journal's senior writers, including its senior biostatistical reviewer.

Damien was associate professor and senior biostatistician at Monash University's Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, based at the Alfred Hospital, which he joined in 2007. His career, which was amazingly varied, began as a maths teacher at Melbourne High School after graduating from the University of Melbourne.

His most significant formative experience came when he took leave from the Education Department in 1980 to work as an Australian volunteer abroad at the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, near Madang. It was here that his mathematical and statistical skills were first realised, collating data on tropical diseases, particularly malaria, and wrestling with the rudimentary computer that was the only technical help available.

His extensive research career included positions at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where he travelled as winner of an inaugural VicHealth Public Health Fellowship in 1989. He also worked at the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria (where he was required to give up smoking as a term of his employment), and Melbourne and Deakin universities before joining Monash in 2003.

Damien's abilities included a marriage of superb mathematical and research skills with a lively writing style. His modus operandi employed Einstein's adage of keeping matters as simple as possible - but no simpler.

Damien had a forthright manner and was always ready to point out sloppy thinking, but was tolerant of those who were mathematically illiterate, as long as they were cognisant of their limitations. He had an extraordinary breadth of knowledge, which underpinned his criticisms, allied with an ability to find interesting aspects in almost every project.

He loved graphs, but only good graphs relevant to the material, and he was inspired by the work of Edward Tufte in this area. He spoke on this topic many times and was invited by The Lancet to write an article in 1993, "The glitter of the t-table". One of his legacies will be the inspiration he provided to colleagues on the graphical representation of their results. His sense of humour will be especially missed.

His achievements and contributions were many. Damien travelled internationally to speak at scientific forums, health workshops and world congresses. He was passionate about health issues, especially in developing countries, and travelled to Vietnam and Thailand to help with epidemiological studies. He was a director of the international registry for multiple sclerosis patients, the MSBase Foundation, for eight years until 2012.

Throughout his career, Damien worked as an independent consultant to various national and international scientific and health organisations. He was committed to research, and his obsession for good methodology brought rigour to many studies. This was demonstrated by the huge number and variety of projects that sought his help, and the volume of conference presentations, grants, high-impact publications and prestigious awards. These included the 2005 Medical Journal of Australia/Wyeth award for the best clinical research paper published in the journal, the Volvo Award on low back pain research in 2001, and the prestigious Victorian Australian Medical Association Stawell Memorial Prize in 2012.

Damien was widely regarded as an inspirational teacher, mentor and supervisor to many students and junior colleagues. His passion for teaching brought about a commonsense understanding of statistics, and the number of awards made to his students is a tribute to the quality of his supervisory and mentoring capability.

Damien's illness was discovered after he had a seizure in April 2009 and he was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. He underwent many treatments for the disease, experienced many side-effects of drugs, radiotherapy and surgery, but retained his courage, intellect and sense of humour.

He was able to work for another three years and told colleagues welcoming him back to a recent senior staff meeting who asked how he was that he was not in a position to purchase any green bananas. His contribution remained at a high level.

Damien was also an accomplished clarinet player and loved music, from jazz to classical. As a student, he toured Australia as a member of Lourdes Boys Choir.

Damien was born in Caulfield, the fifth child of Sheila and Vincent Jolley. He was educated first at St Patrick's College in East Melbourne and then at Xavier College, Kew; The University of Melbourne; La Trobe University; and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

He married Jenny Beresford in 1990. He is survived by Jenny, their two teenage children, Max and Alexandra, and his older siblings, Michael and Anne.

With Professor John McNeil and Judy Lowthian

View Damiens Prayer card