Taylor, Thomas Kinman Fardon

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MB BS (Hons) 1955 FRCS FRCS (Ed) DPhil (Oxon) FRACS FAOrthA

Thomas (Tom) Taylor was the first Professor of Orthopaedics and Traumatic Surgery at the University of Sydney, appointed in 1969. His Chair at Royal North Shore Hospital was also the first ‘full Professorial appointment’ at the hospital.

After graduation from the University of Sydney in 1955, Tom undertook residency at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. In 1957, he went to the United Kingdom, taking up a position as Demonstrator in Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh, and later becoming Orthopaedic Registrar at the Royal Infirmary and the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital. He spent 1960 as a Registrar on the Accident Service at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford. From 1961 to 1964 he was the Nuffield Dominions Fellow at Oxford University, during which time he completed his doctorate. In 1964 he was appointed as a Hunterian Professor of the Royal College of Surgeons, the first Australian orthopaedic surgeon to receive this accolade.

Tom joined the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1964, rising to the position of Associate Professor in 1968. He returned to Australia in 1969 to the Foundation Chair of Orthopaedics and Traumatic Surgery at the University of Sydney. This was the first chair of its kind in Australia, made possible by a major benefaction from W Hugh Smith, a senior orthopaedic surgeon at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, and a former Sydney graduate. Coupled with a recurrent grant from the then Hospitals Commission of NSW, this conjoint funding arrangement was the first of its type. Clinical facilities were provided at the Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) and the Children’s Hospital, Camperdown, and from the outset, the professorial unit directed its activities towards spinal disease and disorder in children and adults. Tom was also Surgeon to the Acute Spinal Cord Injury Unit at RNSH from 1970–2001.

A major benefaction in 1971 from the Raymond E Purves Foundation allowed the construction of an additional floor on the professorial block at RNSH to establish the Bone and Joint Research laboratories which bear Sir Raymond’s name. The laboratories, officially opened in 1973, were the first such facilities in Australia and soon established an enviable national and international reputation.

In 1990, the complementary Biomechanics Research Laboratory was established at RNSH through the generosity of C Murray Maxwell, former Senior Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Children’s Hospital, Camperdown, who is also a Sydney graduate.

The Foundation Chair in Rheumatology at the University was also placed at Royal North Shore Hospital in 1983. The Institute of Bone and Joint Research was established in 1998 encompassing the Orthopaedic and Rheumatology Departments at the teaching hospitals of the University. This tandem development of the two academic disciplines at one teaching hospital proved to be a fruitful amalgamation.

In 1981, Tom formed the Children’s Spinal Research Foundation, later to become the NSW charity SpineCare Foundation. This organisation has fostered and supported research into diseases and disorders of the spine in children, and also the welfare of those so affected who become permanent wheelchair-users.

Tom is Professor Emeritus in his specialty at the University of Sydney and is a Consultant Surgeon to the Royal North Shore Hospital and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. He is also a Visiting Medical Officer at Dubbo Base Hospital, Dubbo, NSW.

Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Taylor, Thomas Kinman Fardon. 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.