Born in Budapest, Hungary, I escaped in 1944 with my family, the imminent communist invasion and began a long journey to Australia through Czechoslovakia, where the Soviet army confined us to a concentration camp to be executed. With the help of a third generation Hungarian US army Captain, we managed to escape to Munich. After a 5 year wait for refugee status, we arrived in Australia in 1951.
Educated at East Maitland Boys High school, I obtained a Leaving Certificate in 1954. I started at the University of Sydney 's Medical Faculty in 1955. In 1959, on a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Program, I studied and researched at the Freiburg Institute of Pathology under Professor Franz Büchner. My research was to study the effect of anoxia on the entry of Potassium into cardiac cells. I graduated MB BS (2nd Class Hons) at the University of Sydney in 1962.
Further clinical pathways were at the Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards. I obtained the MRACP from the RACP in 1965. From 1965 to 1969, at the Kanematsu Institute, Sydney Hospital, I undertook a research project for a Doctorate in Medicine, which was awarded in 1971, by the University of Sydney. The theme was 'Renal Acidification Mechanisms - a clinical and animal study'. In 1971, I was made a Fellow of the RACP. From 1969 to 1971, with a C.J. Martin Travelling Research Fellowship of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), I pursued basic biophysical studies at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysics, Frankfurt a M., West Germany, under Professor K.J. Ullrich. In 1971, I was a Visiting Fellow at the Renal Department of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania under the Chairmanship of Professor Donald Seldin.
On return to Australia, I had several positions supported by the NHMRC and Australian Research Council grants at the Kanematsu Memorial Institute at Sydney Hospital, and the Physiology Department at the University of Sydney. In 1974, I was appointed Senior Lecturer of the University of Sydney at the Clinical School of the Royal North Shore Hospital St Leonards (RNSH). In 1977, I was appointed Associate Professor of Medicine at the Clinical School at RNSH and Professor of Medicine, and Head of Department of the University of Sydney at RNSH in 1991. I now settled into a busy and rewarding program of teaching undergraduates, graduates, advanced trainees and nurses, with many of whom I am still in contact.
My research activities were broadly divided into clinical and basic biophysical studies. A major aspect of the clinical side was the development of a Centre of Excellence for Maternal/Foetal clinical care and research under the auspices of Professor EDM Gallery. A second clinical interest was the development of an individualised diagnostic service for the treatment of kidney stone disease. The basic biophysical animal studies were a continuation of elucidating the controlling mechanisms of renal tubular sodium transport. For this work I was awarded the Degree of Doctor of Science from the Faculty of Science, University of Sydney in 1991.
At the right place and time: At a Southern Highland function, the special visitor from overseas in whose honour this event was organised, collapsed suddenly at the breakfast table in my presence. He had been in perfect health up until then. After the tenth cup of black coffee that morning he had developed ventricular fibrillation. Having obtained a defibrillator, not locally available, and after quite some delay, he was stabilised. Later he told me how he had watched himself from 'above' slowly drifting away. This was the first time I had heard of the phenomenon of 'out of body experience'.
A most wonderful period in my medical life was when I was appointed as editor-in-chief of The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine in 1975. An entirely new and diverse experience with a wonderful supporting staff, especially Dr M O'Hearn, honorary Secretary of The College in Macquarie Street. It gave us the opportunity to develop the system where, as far as possible, the origin of the source of the work and especially the authors were obscured to ensure as much objectivity in the assessment of the results as possible. In the present era, this has emerged as a major problem for research publications in all fields.
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