Magarey, Frank Rees

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Professor Frank Rees Magarey

Emeritus Professor of Pathology (1953-1977)

Dean of the Faculty of Medicine (1960-1965)


Frank Rees Magarey had been appointed to the Welsh National School of Medicine, Cardiff, in 1938 as a Demonstrator in Anatomical Pathology and Bacteriology. He served in the AIF during the Second World War as a pathologist and then returned to Cardiff as a Lecturer: he was later promoted to Senior Lecturer.

His term of office at Sydney University spanned an era of major changes in the Department. Soon after taking up the Chair in 1952, he diplomatically renewed contact with the Pathology Department at Prince Alfred Hospital and arranged for the University staff once more to perform autopsies there for two days each week.[1] This provided a new flow of pathological specimens for the Museum and the opportunity for students again to be taught around the autopsy table — a form of teaching at which Magarey excelled. He was an exceptionally good lecturer who succeeded in impressing on students the importance of Pathology as a foundation for all the later subjects in the course and for medical practice.

He played an active role in the four years of planning which resulted in the introduction in 1973 of the five-year medical curriculum. This brought major changes to the format of the Pathology course which since then has been taught in the third year of the curriculum. The content of the course also underwent revision at this time in recognition of the principle of a 'core' curriculum with greater integration and less compartmentalization throughout the medical course.

Magarey believed in the importance of giving students a solid understanding of the pathology of common diseases. This was reflected in his introduction of compulsory Museum attendance and study for Fourth Year Medical students and Third Year Dental students, and also in changes he made in the Pathology Museum. He removed a large number of the more extraordinary and spectacular exhibits and increased the representation of common disease conditions. He also introduced the internationally recognised cataloguing system devised by Maud Abbott, and produced comprehensive 160 page catalogues for student use. These contained a brief clinical history and a description of the macroscopic and microscopic pathology of each specimen. Magarey instructed that every student be examined on the exhibits in the Pathology Museum.[1]

Magarey was an active and effective administrator, serving as Dean of the Faculty from 1960–1965. It was mainly due to his efforts that the formal link between Prince Alfred Hospital and the University Department of Pathology was renewed in 1977 with the establishment of a new Chair in Pathology to be occupied by a person jointly appointed by the University and the Hospital. Dr V J McGovern was appointed to this Chair in 1977, the year of Magarey's retirement.

The number of permanent members of staff in the Department was increased during Magarey's term of office. When he came to the Chair the Department was staffed by two Senior Lecturers, a large number of part-time Lecturers and Demonstrators and a couple of Teaching Fellows. At the time of his retirement there were two Professors, one Associate Professor, three Senior Lecturers and two Lecturers on the staff.

Dorsch, S. E. "Pathology" in "The Medical Sciences" in Centenary Book of the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine (1984) Young, J. A., Sefton, A. J., and Webb, N., University of Sydney, Sydney, pp. 336-338.

Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Magarey, Frank Rees. Faculty of Medicine Online Museum and Archive, University of Sydney.

An alternate version appears in: Young, J A, Sefton, A J, Webb, N. Centenary Book of the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine, (1984) Sydney University Press for The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine.