Castaldi, Peter Anthony

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MB BS 1957 MD 1970 MRACP FRACP FRCPA DU (Paris) (Hon)

Peter Castaldi, haematologist, was the first full-time appointee to the care of patients with Haemophilia at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 1965, and the Foundation Professor of Medicine at Westmead Hospital in 1978.

Peter Castaldi graduated from Medicine in 1957 and undertook his Residency at Sydney Hospital until 1958. He then became Registrar of the Clinical Research Unit, becoming a Fellow in Gastroenterology in 1960.

In 1961, he took up a Research Fellowship in the Department of Medicine at the University of Sydney and the Clinical Research Unit of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, working with Professor Ruthven Blackburn and Barry Firkin. In 1964 he was invited to the University of Paris, Hospital Saint Louis as a Research Fellow to work in the Hemostasis laboratories with Jacques Caen and Marie Lo Larrieu.

According to Peter:

I had been attracted by the work of the Institute and had a particular desire to do research in Europe. At that time, I had broad interests and many discoveries in the field were coming from well-established French, German and Scandinavian centres, so it was attractive to break new ground.
I was very fortunate, it turned out, finding myself with a highly charged group with the facilities of a burgeoning Institute, and clinical access to people with inherited disorders of hemostasis. The outcome was a series of papers in Nature, the American Journal of Medicine, the British Journal of Haematology, the Journal of Clinical Pathology, and some in French as well… The French system had a profound influence on me, my family and my career.[1]

Returning to Australia in 1965, he was appointed Staff Specialist in Haematology and Blood Coagulation at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, with the responsibility for the care of the patients with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders.

Again, I was able to work with Barry Firkin and Ruthven Blackburn but now, as collaborator rather than as a research student. Barry was a charismatic person with great ideas and application. He and Ruthven built up a vibrant unit at the CRU in which I was able to take an active part. There was a constant stream of new faces as people flocked to get some research experience. I was the first to be appointed to the role of Haemophilia Carer and could combine this work with studies on a broad field of haemostasis research.[1]

Concurrently, from 1966 to 1969 he was Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Physiology and Medicine at the University of Sydney.

Peter wanted to expand his experience in general haematology and continue research, and in 1969, moved to Melbourne to become Physician for Haematological Disorders and Director of Haematology at the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg. He remained in that role until 1978. During that time he was both a Senior and Professorial Associate in Medicine at the University of Melbourne. For a period during 1976 and 1977, he was also Associate Professor in Haematology at the University of Paris.

When the new Westmead Hospital opened in 1978, Peter was appointed as the Foundation Director of Medicine, a role he maintained until 1990. He says of this time:

The Austin experience and work for the RACP put me in good stead for the Westmead appointment in 1978. There followed a period of intense interest with Miles Little and Bernie Amos as we set up the new Hospital and clinical school of the University. We were rigid about our criteria for specialist appointments, insisting on a commitment to and achievement in research and teaching, and so recruited a quite outstanding collection of specialists and the legacy of that approach remains today. Fortunately, I was able to continue research and again was lucky to attract some talented collaborators and have an ongoing role in the NHMRC. Our research productivity was good; we had ongoing grants and invitations to present internationally.[1]

Throughout this time he also maintained a role as Professor of Medicine within the Faculty (until 1995). He continued his research interests and work in France, undertaking a Visiting Professorship in the Collège de France in 1989 and the University of Paris, Institute of Blood and Vessel Diseases in 1992.

Jacques Caen visited several times, including an extended sabbatical in 1986, and we spent two periods in Paris working on techniques in research.[1]

Peter has been active on numerous state, federal and international committees throughout his career, including reviewing committees for the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee, the University of Sydney Ethics Committee, the Western Sydney Area Health Service Board, and the Health Services Association of New South Wales.

In 1989 he received the Chevalier dans l’Ordre Nationale du Merite in recognition of his involvement in academic studies in France and his contributions to knowledge, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Paris “presumably for the same reasons”. In 1992, Peter was made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his services to medicine, particularly in the field of Haematosis and Thrombosis. In 1994, he received the Medal of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

Peter remains Emeritus Professor in the Faculty of Medicine within the University of Sydney.

Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Castaldi, Peter Anthony. Faculty of Medicine Online Museum and Archive, University of Sydney.

An alternate version appears in: Mellor, L. 150 Years, 150 Firsts: The People of the Faculty of Medicine (2006) Sydney, Sydney University Press.