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HICKS, John Douglas (1913-2001)

HICKS, John Douglas (1913-2001)

John Douglas Hicks, pathologist, was one of the founders of post war pathology practice in Australia and was a participant in the formation of the Royal Australian College of Pathologists. (RACP).

'Doug' Hicks was the son of Dr John Henry Clements Hicks and Daisy Adeline nee Douglas and born near Ondit, Victoria. After the family moved to Geelong he attended Geelong High School before continuing his education at the College from 1924 to 1930 where he became a School Prefect in 1929 and Head Prefect in his final year, 1930. He was a member of both the 1st Football XVIII and 1st Cricket XI in 1929 and 1930 and a member of the Athletics Team in 1926 and 1928. At various times he was a member of the Athletics Games, Cricket, Debating, Football, Pegasus, Rifle Club, Running and Tennis Committees in 1929 or 1930. In 1930, he was awarded the Argus Prize.

From College he went on to Ormond College and Melbourne University studying medicine. He then commenced working at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) becoming a registrar. It was during this period that he married, to Mavis Edna Morgan in 1938. While at Melbourne he specialized in pathology working in that field at both Royal Melbourne and Prince Henry’s Hospitals. After the outbreak of war he joined the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC) and served overseas in New Guinea.

On his return from war service he was appointed senior lecturer in pathology at the University of Sydney in 1946 but returned to Melbourne in 1947 as a pathologist at Prince Henry’s Hospital. In 1951 he became Anatomical Pathologist at the RMH and then a Professorial Associate in Pathology at the University of Melbourne from 1951 to 1978. Although he retired from the RMH in in 1978 he continued in various consultancy roles to RMH, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the Coroner’s Office. Previously he had assisted the Preston and Northcote Hospital and the Western General Hospital in establishing their pathology services and had provided consultancy services to the RAAF.

He was Secretary of the Australian Association of Clinical Pathologists in 1951 and in its later guise as the Royal College of Pathologists of Australia. Ian was Examiner, State Specialist, Vice President and President from 1967 to 1969.

D C Dowling described 'Doug' Hicks as ‘a brilliant histologist. He had an unerring accuracy at identifying specialised cell morphology and tissue patterns and their abnormalities. He also knew when to get another opinion, and was frequently used for a second opinion by his colleagues’. He went on to say that ‘Doug was not a big man physically but he had abundant energy and always seemed in a hurry. He was usually referred to as ‘Doc Hicks’ or just ‘The Doc’. He was a tidy person except for his desk which seemed to be weighed down by a mountain of slides and paper, but after a brief scrabble he could always find what was wanted’ .

Sources: D C Dowling Royal Australian College of Physicians (www, 2011.
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