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Biographical entry Davis, Neville Coleman (1924 - 2008)

AO 1981; MRCS and FRCS 1949; Hon FRCS 1989; MB BS Sydney 1945; MD 1977; Hon DS Queensland 1978; LRCP 1949; FRACS 1956; FACS 1978; Hon FRCS Edinburgh 1993.

30 January 1924
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
6 March 2008
General surgeon


Neville Coleman Davis was a leading surgeon in Queensland. He was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, on 30 January 1924, the son of Clyde Davis, a medical practitioner, and Vera née Phillips. He was educated at Sydney Grammar School and the University of Sydney, qualifying in 1945. He completed house posts at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, and the Royal Hobart Hospital in Tasmania, before going to England in 1949 as a senior house officer at the City General Hospital in Sheffield. After passing the FRCS, he went on to Sheffield Royal Infirmary for two years and then served in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps as a lieutenant colonel in Korea, where he commanded the British Commonwealth General Hospital in Japan from 1951 to 1952.

He returned to Australia as surgical supervisor and part-time lecturer in clinical surgery at Brisbane General Hospital. In 1957 he was appointed visiting surgeon at Princess Alexandra Hospital. He was co-ordinator of postgraduate surgical education from 1980 to 1986 and was visiting surgeon at the Wesley Breast Clinic from 1982.

A truly general surgeon, his main interest was in colorectal surgery, but he was one of the founders and later chairman of the Queensland Melanoma Project.

He served in Vietnam as surgical specialist to No 1 Australian Field Hospital in 1969 and was honorary colonel of the RAAMC 1st Military District from 1987 to 1991.

At the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, he was a member of council from 1975 to 1979, honorary librarian and a member of the board of general surgery until 1982, and chairman of the section of colorectal surgery. Many public offices came to him including membership of the council of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and of the medical and scientific committee of Queensland Cancer Fund. He was a member of the council of the Australian Medical Association and was made a fellow in 1979. He served on the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Menzies Foundation of Queensland, and was president of the Queensland Gastroenterological Society.

Among his many awards was a Churchill fellowship in 1968, the Henry Simpson Newland medal in 1958, the Justin Fleming medal in 1977 and the John Loewenthal clinical medal in 1978. He was a member of the James IV Association of Surgeons, was the Bancroft orator of the American Medical Association in 1979, gained the Hugh Devine medal of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1988, and was an honorary member of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and of the Colorectal Society of Australasia.

Neville married Lois Tindale, a medical practitioner, in 1954. They had two daughters (Prudence and Catherine) and a son (Roger). He died on 6 March 2008.

John Blandy

The Royal College of Surgeons of England