Nade, Sydney Michael Lewis

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BSc (Med) 1960 MB BS 1963 FRCS MRCP (UK) FAOrthA MD FRACS DSc

Sydney Nade was the Foundation Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Western Australia.

Sydney was born in Sydney in 1939. He studied Medicine at the University of Sydney, graduating in 1963, the same year he served as President of the University’s Medical Society. He completed his rotating residency in 1964 and became a Registrar in Medicine at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 1965. Sydney travelled to London in 1967, where he worked for the next two years as Senior House Officer at the Hospital for Sick Children, the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (Oxford), and the Hammersmith Hospital. In 1969, he was Honorary Registrar and Research Fellow at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, where he commenced studies in the transplantation of bone. These studies led to a presentation of the thesis on which his Doctor of Medicine was later awarded (1975). From 1970 to 1971 Sydney worked as Registrar and Senior Registrar at the Radcliffe Infirmary and became a Lord Nuffield Scholar in Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Oxford.

In 1972, Sydney returned to the University of Sydney and was appointed Senior Lecturer in Surgery (Orthopaedics and Traumatic Surgery), becoming Associate Professor in 1977. At the same time, Sydney was working as an Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Royal North Shore Hospital, continuing studies in post-foetal osteogenesis. He was also an Honorary Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children and the Margaret Reid Orthopaedic Hospital.

In 1978 Sydney took up an appointment as Foundation Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Western Australia. Of this position, Sydney says:

I considered that my principal role in that position was to produce a teaching program, primarily for undergraduates, and to commence a vigorous research effort. With the encouragement of the Head of the Department of Surgery, and many other Departments, I introduced a program of undergraduate teaching which commenced in the second year of the six year course and continued throughout. I taught in the Departments of Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology helping integrate basic sciences of musculo-skeletal biology with clinical science.

In this role, Sydney initiated three main areas of research: Studies in osteogenesis, with special emphasis on bone replacement for bone loss, with particular reference to the use of ceramic materials; studies in bone and joint infection, with special emphasis on clinical and experimental aspects of acute haematogenous osteomyelitis and acute septic arthritis; and studies in joint function and human locomotion, with special emphasis on articular neurology, synovial fluid dynamics and assessment of gait patterns and energy requirements in patients with injured and arthritic legs.

Sydney says that his association with the University of Western Australia “was one of the highlights of my career”. In the book, Campus in the Community, which records the 75th anniversary of the University of Western Australia, Emeritus Professor Eric Saint writes that Sydney’s resignation from the University was to be regretted and that he had done much to establish his specialty as an academic discipline and had done good research in neurophysiology of the knee joint and bacterial infection of bone.

Renewed association with the University of Sydney since 1986 has seen Sydney fully responsible for all teaching in Musculo-skeletal Clinical Science at the Western Clinical School of the University, where he is considered a gifted teacher.

For many years Sydney was Chair of the Orthopaedic Undergraduate Education Committee of the Australian Orthopaedic Association during which time a syllabus of teaching in musculo-skeletal diseases for Australian medical schools was formulated and distributed, and an annual National Undergraduate Workshop was established.

Sydney pioneered collaboration with experts in other fields, seemingly not related to medicine. For example, his work on attempting to find ways of replacing diseased, missing, or deficient bone led him to work with ceramic engineers. He had a collaborative project with a professor of surveying, whose expertise in remote sensing was useful in developing a method of recording of body shape. He also worked closely with electrical engineers in the development of a simple method of quantitatively recording gait, and collaborated with mechanical engineers in the development of a novel device to assist people in learning to walk again after injury to the lower limbs. Sydney considers himself to be what he terms, a ‘clinician-scientist’. He says:

I have spent most of my working life combining the roles of clinician, educator and scientist. When interviewed prior to be appointed as one of the first Clinical Professors in the University of Sydney, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor used the term “public teacher” to describe the role of a professor. I believe that I have done that.

Sydney has published more that 100 scientific papers, and written a number of textbooks and chapters in books. His most recent publication is a book entitled Career Doctor: So, You want to be a doctor? He says it was written because:

I perceived a need for high school students and others considering a career in medicine to have an explanation about what medicine is all about. It is based on my 40 years of teaching and watching the difficulty that young people have in the choice of a career. There is no similar book, and it encapsulates my view of what medical training has to offer.[1]

In addition he has written three other books: Musculo-skeletal Infections (1987), Infections of Bones and Joints (1994), and The Care of Neuropathic Limbs–A practical manual (with Grace Warren) (2000).

Since ceasing operative surgery, he has been involved in consulting practice as an orthopaedic surgeon and is a Problem-based Learning Tutor for the Graduate Medical Program within the Faculty, electing to act as a tutor in modules outside his own specialty, “so that I face the same problem as the students and have to work it out as do they.”

Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Nade, Sydney Michael Lewis. 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.