In 1955, Professor Lovell was appointed the inaugural James Stewart Professor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne, and whilst initial resources limited staff to two assistants, his superior organisational skills and abilities soon attracted staff of high calibre. He created a culture of basing clinical practice on evidence thereby enhancing medical teaching with increased quality and new rigor. Charming, warm and witty, Professor Lovell was an outstanding and committed teacher who allowed members of his team to pursue their own lines of investigation and research. Formal presentations were supplemented by informal brainstorming meetings in which his insight and novel approach frequently led his colleagues to new lines of thought.
During his time as Professor of Medicine, Professor Lovell made advances on the cause and effective treatment of high blood pressure, the optimal treatment of heart attack and the prevention of sudden death from the condition. His early recognition of the value of cadaveric renal transplantation in the treatment of end stage renal failure led, in collaboration with Professor Maurice Ewing at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, to the early and successful introduction of kidney transplants into routine medical practice in Australia. Another initiative was combining the results of several medical studies to determine the effectiveness of particular therapies in preventing death following myocardial infarction: a technique later known as meta-analysis. In addition, he strove for the advancement of medical education and research in Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
He published widely on topics covering a range of subjects, including the scientific evaluation of medical treatments, medical ethics, leadership, organ transplantation, health care provision in Australia, and the hereditary aspects of degenerative diseases. In 1978, Professor Lovell was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to medicine, and in 1982, the Sir William Upjohn Medal of the University of Melbourne for outstanding services to medicine in Australia.
He retired from the University in 1983, but continued to contribute to medical research through work as an epidemiologist and administrator with the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria. This role involved the organisation and control of drug trials for the treatment of cancer, as well as contributing to the wider public health initiatives of the institution through the provision of guidelines for the treatment of cancer, and for a time was its Acting Director. In addition, from 1982-1988, he was the inaugural Chair of the Medical Research Ethics Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council. He died in 2000.
Professor Larkins returned to Melbourne in 1974, and from this time until 1977, was Physician to Outpatients and Senior Associate in the University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine, at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. Following this, he was appointed as First Assistant, then Reader, in the University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine, at the Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg. From 1979, he was also Director of the Endocrine and Metabolic Unit at the Repatriation General Hospital.
In 1984, Professor Larkins was appointed to the James Stewart Chair of Medicine and Head, Department of Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital/Western Hospital. In addition, he directed the hospital’s Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology. He was Deputy Dean to Professor Gordon Clunie in 1996 before taking on the position of Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne in 1998. Professor Larkins took up an appointment as the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University in September 2003.
Professor Larkins has demonstrated outstanding talents as a researcher, clinical teacher, physician and inspiring leader. He has published over 200 papers, authored or edited five books, and supervised numerous PhD scholars in the field of diabetes and endocrinology. In 1982, he was awarded with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians' Eric Susman Prize for Medical Research. Professor Larkins was a member of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council from 1977-2000, and from 1997-2000, was Chairman of the National Health and Medical Research Council.
In 2002, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to medicine and health: as an advocate of increased investment in research, as a contributor to health policy reform, and as an initiator of innovative medical programs and the provision of training opportunities for medical officers in the Oceania region.
In addition, in 2002 Professor Larkins was awarded the University of Melbourne’s Sir William Upjohn Medal for distinguished services to medicine in Australia. He is among the most distinguished graduates of the University of Melbourne.
Whilst pursuing his passion for clinical medicine, Professor Brown continued undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and research in malaria and other infectious diseases. He was part of a team working towards the development of a malaria vaccine and studied mechanisms for development of severe consequences of malaria infection. He also made a significant contribution to research into the devastating consequences of malaria in pregnancy and into how humans develop immunity. In 1992, he was awarded the Eric Susman Prize for Medical Research by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
Professor Brown has published over 200 papers in scientific journals and has served on many committees, often as chair. He has worked for international bodies including the World Health Organization and has presented papers, often as invited speaker, at scientific congresses around the world. For numerous years, he served on Steering Committees of the United Nations Development Program/World Bank/World Health Organization Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, on Committees for Applied Field Research in Malaria, Immunology of Malaria, and finally as Chairman of the Vaccine Discovery Research program. He has many other appointments including serving as a member of the Strategic Advisory Council for the Bill and Melinda Gates Children's Vaccine Program.
In 1999, he became the James Stewart Professor of Medicine and Head, Department of Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital/Western Hospital at The University of Melbourne. Concurrently in 2006, he became Foundation Director, Nossal Institute for Global Health and Foundation Chair in Global Health, at The University of Melbourne. The goal of the Institute is to transfer knowledge of disease prevention and management, research methodology and health promotion to build the capacity of health providers.
Professor Brown has made an enormous contribution to medical research, but has also made great contributions to the community, the medical profession, to national and international science and to the debate on ethics in medical research.
Professor Brown stepped down as James Stewart Professor of Medicine and Head, Department of Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital/Western Hospital at The University of Melbourne at the end of 2007.