A world leader in the field of radiology




20-10-1923 - 31-5-2013

Australia's first professor of radiology and an internationally recognised pioneer in his field, Professor Emeritus William S. C. Hare, AO, has died in Melbourne in his 90th year.

Bill began his career within the Department of Radiology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1954. He was appointed director in 1958 when radiology was a fledgling

specialty, and by the time he retired in 1988 had developed the department into a world-class operation at the cutting edge of interventional radiology.

Ahead of the US, together with cardiologist Graeme Sloman, he introduced coronary angiography techniques to Australia, a revolutionary improvement in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. He also introduced transfemoral cerebral angiography, and he had already performed angioplasty on leg arteries to relieve narrowings, an alternative to open surgery.

He became the world authority in radiology of analgesic nephropathy, and his subspecialty - expertise in diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases - rendered him a respected international uroradiological authority. Using techniques derived from angiography, often using new instruments he designed himself, he replaced open operations requiring general anaesthetic, by draining obstructed kidneys, stenting

blocked ureters and removing the obstructing renal or ureteric stones, all under local anaesthetic.

In 1963, he was appointed head of the newly created department of radiology at the University of Melbourne, the first university department of radiology in Australia. He was a superb teacher. He set up the most comprehensive postgraduate radiology teaching program seen in Australia, and ahead of his time he developed problem-based learning, now the gold standard for teaching medicine. He supervised a continuous stream of higher-degree candidates.

His last book, Medicolegal Radiology, was published in 2009 when he was aged 85. It has proven a fine reference book for both radiologists and lawyers. In the days before he died he was planning a third edition of his popular textbook Clinical Radiology for Medical Students and Health Practitioners.

He won numerous awards from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists and served on its education committee and council. He was president in 1986 and 1987 and was awarded the gold medal of the RANZCR, its highest honour. He was advisor and chair of numerous state and federal health committees.

Through presentations and publications, his fame spread through the radiological world. He was constantly invited to Britain, Scandinavia and the US. He was awarded the extremely rare honours of honorary membership of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in 1984 and of the International Society of Radiology in 1994.

Throughout his career he exhibited vision and leadership. He was pivotal in organising 19 countries to form the Asian Oceanian Society of Radiology (AOSR) in 1971. He served as foundation president and later secretary, and is universally recognised as the father of the AOSR, which is now one of the three largest radiological associations in the world.

His comprehensive world leadership in radiology was ultimately recognised in his appointment as an officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in 1990. It was appropriate official recognition of Australia's greatest radiologist.

Bill started school at Ballarat Grammar, and when his father was made manager of the shipping firm Huddart Parker, he attended Geelong Grammar. He excelled academically and at sport, representing the school at football and tennis. He was captain of boats, stroked the eight, and was head prefect in his final year. He won a scholarship to Trinity College to study medicine at Melbourne University.

But in fourth-year medicine in 1946, Bill was one of 12 medical students to contract tuberculosis. The disease was widely disseminated and he was desperately ill. Streptomycin saved his life. He was probably one of the first patients in Australia to receive it.

Five years in hospital, flat on his back in a plaster bed, followed. He filled his time with his studies as well as learning to paint (a hobby he pursued relentlessly into his 80s despite displaying little talent), betting on horse racing, and cracking The Age cryptic crossword - Bill never went to bed with the crossword unfinished. It is a tribute to his extraordinary character and determination that he was able to maintain good spirits and survive. He went on to sit his finals and finished second in his year.

Sport was a huge interest throughout his life. He swam in the bay daily for six months a year, and despite TB damage to his shoulder, he played a good game of golf. He was an avid supporter of the Geelong Cats - not surprising, as his uncle, the renowned Henry "Tracker" Young, captained Geelong from 1901-09.

Bill served on the Brighton Grammar school council for 21 years, 10 of them as deputy chairman, and was honoured by having a rowing eight named after him.

Bill loved jazz. He liked it trad and live, and particularly enjoyed listening to his favourite bands over a meal and a beer. He had played cornet in a student band, and even went so far as to join the Melbourne Communist Party solely for its jazz events. True to his wishes, Bill's memorial service at Trinity College chapel concluded with the congregation filing out behind the band playing Dr Jazz.

Bill is survived by his loving extended family, and left countless lives improved through his dedication to medicine and humanity.

Join the Conversation...

There are comments posted so far.

If you'd like to join this conversation, please login or sign up here

Related Articles