Craig, Robert Gordon

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MB 1894 MSurgery 1894

Robert (Gordon) Craig established the first urological unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in 1918, and established the Department of Urology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 1925. Through his benefactions to the University of Sydney he provided the first professional specialist training of urologists.[1]

Gordon graduated from Medicine in 1894 and became Resident Medical Officer at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. In 1895, he entered into private practice, establishing himself as a Consultant in Newtown. He remained active as a consultant until 1908, but in 1901 was also appointed to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as an Honorary Assistant Surgeon.

In 1908, Gordon travelled to England and the United States, including a visit to the Mayo Clinic:

There he learned the technique of open ether administration and introduced it to RPAH on his return. Gordon Craig was most impressed with the Mayo brothers and returned to their clinic about every five years. He was also impressed with Critchley Hinder and his technique of cystoscopy.[1]

From 1911, he was Honorary Surgeon at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, a position he remained in until 1925, and took up an appointment as Lecturer in Surgery at the University of Sydney in 1914.

With the outbreak of war in 1915, he served as Lieutenant-Colonel in the Australian Imperial Force, being active as a Ship’s Surgeon with the No 1 Hospital Ship Karoola in the Mediterranean and Australian waters. On return to Australia, he commenced work with the Randwick Military Hospital and the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, establishing the first urological unit in 1918.1 However, he is most often associated with the Department of Urology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital which he established and led from 1925 to 1926. This particular unit had a key role in the development of urology in Australasia.

Gordon was a generous benefactor. In 1926, he donated what was then a huge sum of money–60,000 pounds – to the University of Sydney in order to establish a Fellowship in Urology. The recipients of the fellowship were to be trained in urology and conduct research at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, thus receiving the first professional specialist training of urologists in Australasia. The Gordon Craig Fellowship continues today and many of our alumni have been recipients of this fellowship.

He was also one of the prime movers in the establishment of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and when the first Council was elected in 1927, Gordon was elected a Foundation Member.

At his death in 1931, he also bequeathed the sum of 60,000 pounds to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. According to the College Archives: There was no legal instruction as to any prescribed use of the bequest; however, it was believed that Robert Gordon Craig wished that half of the interest from the Endowment Fund be used to promote surgical research, and the other half to be used in the “training of young surgeons who showed evidence of ability”. The issue of the College library was discussed in detail at the Council meeting of 31 August 1937. At this meeting, Council discussed the role of the library and its activities, and resolved that the library be known as the ‘Gordon Craig Library’.[1]

The Gordon Craig Library continues to provide support to surgeons through the provision of up to date resources.

Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Craig, Robert Gordon. 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.