Brief History

Wallace Wurth building circa 1966Formally established in 1960, UNSW Medicine started with five foundation chairs – anatomy, medicine, pathology, physiology and surgery and Prince Henry Hospital as the University’s first teaching hospital. (pictured: Wallace Wurth builing circa 1966)

The first group of 75 students enrolled in 1961 and, in the same year, the Royal Hospital for Women, Paddington, was made a teaching hospital in obstetrics and gynaecology. Over the next couple of years, St George Hospital, Kogarah, and St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, joined the list of the University’s teaching hospitals. In 1962, a Postgraduate Committee was formed and a joint fund set up between the University and Prince of Wales/Prince Henry Hospitals to support research and postgraduate instruction in medicine.

First Medicine graduates

By 1970, UNSW Medicine had reached full enrolment, with 895 students. In the same year, a new clinical school at St George Hospital and an undergraduate teaching block at the Royal Hospital for Women were opened. The Centre for Medical Education Research and Development, including a Regional Teacher Training Centre for Health Personnel sponsored by the World Health Organisation and the Commonwealth Government, was also established on campus. (pictured: First graduating class)

A decision was undertaken to introduce a five-year undergraduate course in 1974 and, in 1979, a record 363 students – the first of the five-year group and last of the six-year group - graduated with Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees. Although by 1988 the undergraduate course had been expanded to a 6 year course again. This allowed for an easier pace of studies in the pre-clinical years and an additional year of clinical experience prior to commencing internship.

Port Macquarie campusIn the early 1990s the South Western Sydney Clinical School was established. While located at Liverpool Hospital, it also included Fairfield, and Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospitals.

The 1990s also saw an increase in both rural teaching and in the intake of indigenous and rural students into the undergraduate course. The establishment of a Rural Health Unit within the School of Public Health and Community Medicine aided this. This grew into the School of Rural Health (now Rural Clinical School) in 2000, and consolidated the place of rural health in the curriculum. (pictured: Rural Clinical School - Port Macquarie campus)

An entirely new six-year undergraduate Medicine program was introduced in 2004. The Program is highly integrated both horizontally and vertically. All courses are interdisciplinary: biomedical sciences are integrated with one another and with the social and psychological sciences. The scientific basis of medicine and clinical experience go hand in hand throughout all years of the program.

Wallace Wurth building November 2012We also continue to grow in research and facilities. At the end of 2009 the Lowy Cancer Research Centre was completed, making it one of the largest cancer research facilities in the world – up to 400 scientists working on adult and childhood cancer research. The Wallace Wurth building had a major refurbishment along with new premises for the Kirby Insitute, completed in 2014.

We currently comprise nine schools, a number of centres and institutes, as well as having a close association with several affiliated medical research institutes and facilities (pictured: Wallace Wurth re-development)






UNSW Medicine Deans

2015 - Present
Professor Rodney Phillips

Professor Peter Smith

Professor SB Dowton

Professor WE Glover

Professor RW Pitney

Professor RJ Walsh

Professor FF Rundle


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