Edward Byrne became used to relocation early in his life. Born in northwest England, by 15 years old he had moved to Tasmania with his family. He gained his Bachelor of Medical Science in 1971, then Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery in 1974. He worked as a neurology registrar for the Royal Adelaide Hospital for a year before taking up a fellowship in London. By 1982, he’d returned to Australia and qualified for a Doctor of Medicine. His clinical and research career progressed quickly and in 1983 he was appointed Director of Neurology at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne. In 1992, he became Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Melbourne.
In 2003, Byrne joined Monash as the Dean of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, a role he held until 2007. He then returned to the UK for a position at University College London (UCL) as the Vice Provost (Health). But he was back at Monash only two years later, taking up the top job as the University’s eighth Vice-Chancellor after the retirement of fellow doctor Richard Larkins.
Byrne’s tenure as Vice-Chancellor was characterised by administrative streamlining and a re- examination of Monash’s far-flung empire. He reorganised the University’s ten faculties into clusters, emphasising interdisciplinary collaboration. The Berwick and Gippsland campuses developed a more selective course range in an attempt to cater better to the student populations on those campuses, and the Malaysian and South African campuses worked to increase their research profile. Faced with low enrollment numbers, Byrne negotiated the Gippsland regional campus sale to the newly created Federation University from 2014. Internationally, Byrne further developed Larkins’ plans for partnerships over campuses. Monash formed an alliance with Warwick University in the UK, and joined with Southeast University in China to develop the Southeast University-Monash University Joint Graduate School in Suzhou in 2012.
Professor Byrne received the AO (Officer of the Order of Australia) in 2006 and the AC (Companion of the Order of Australia) in 2014.
In 2014, Professor Byrne left Monash to take up the post of President and Principal of King’s College, London. He said "Monash is a fantastic university, and the privilege of leading it has been the high point of my career."