Lives of the fellows

Anthony John Proust

b.23 February 1924 d.16 May 2005
MB Sydney(1948) MRCP Edin(1954) MRCP(1954) FRCP Edin(1971) FRACP(1978) FRCP(1981)

Anthony John (‘Tony’) Proust was director of tuberculosis for the Australian Capital Territory and director of the Canberra Chest Clinic. The youngest son of Jacque Emile and Stella Proust, he was brought up in Neutral Bay and attended St Aloysius College. He studied medicine at the University of Sydney and qualified in 1948. After completing his internship at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney he travelled to Canada in 1950 and worked at the Winnipeg General Hospital and the Manitoba Sanatorium. Following this he spent time at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, USA and finally in Edinburgh and London, gaining the membership of both the London and Edinburgh Colleges of Physicians in 1953.

On his return to Australia in 1954, by now a well qualified general physician with special expertise in thoracic medicine and diabetes mellitus, he moved to Canberra and began to work in both public and private practice. Invited to be the first director of tuberculosis for the Australian Capital Territory and director of the Canberra Chest Clinic, he held these posts for nearly 20 years from 1967 until he retired in 1985.

As co-ordinator of the Australian Rifampicin trial (published in 1971 and 1972), he made a major contribution to antituberculosis therapy and the drug remained the most prescribed for over 30 years. He also founded the Australian Tuberculosis Newsletter and was a member of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand and the Australian Society of the History of Medicine. A prolific writer, he published four books on aspects of medical history of which the first was History of tuberculosis in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea (Curtin, Australia, Brolga Press, 1991) and the last was A companion of the history of medicine of Australia 1788-1939 (Canberra, A J Proust, 2003). He was planning a further one on medical women in Australia when his last illness overtook him.

His reputation extended overseas and, in 1981, he worked in Hong Kong with Sister Mary Aquinas at the Ruttonjee Hospital for tuberculosis and, 10 years later, he was visiting professor of medicine at St John’s Medical College in Bangalore.

When he died of cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis, he was survived by Moya, his wife of 54 years, five children and eight grandchildren.

RCP editor

[Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh; Newsletter of the faculty of medicine and Medical Graduates Association of Sydney University – both accessed 5 October 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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