Fowler, Robert

  • Robt FowlerDate and place of birth: 

    7 May 1928, South Melbourne

    Start at RCH:

    Bob Fowler’s 38 years at the Royal Children’s Hospital started in 1955 when he joined Douglas Stephens’ Surgical Research Unit as a surgical registrar. In this role, routine surgical duties were combined with a variety of burgeoning research interests developed under Mr. Stephens’ mentorship.

    Prior to coming to RCH, Bob’s first two postgraduate years as an RMO followed conventional lines except for a chance rostered rotation through the Baker Research Institute’s Clinical Research Unit, which was under the direction of Dr Tom Lowe. This period opened up interesting new opportunities, leading to the Baker Institute’s unexpected offer to Bob of a 2-year training scholarship from 1953–4, an offer he accepted.

    Late in 1954, Bob first met Douglas Stephens and it was this meeting that led to Bob’s initial RCH appointment the following year and which virtually shaped his subsequent career as a paediatric surgeon and active researcher.

    Early in 1958 Bob was awarded a U.S. Fullbright Scholarship, and took up a temporary research fellowship at the Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati. He then returned to RCH in 1960 as a surgical research fellow, again combining regular surgical duties with research studies. His appointment as a full consultant surgeon came in early 1962, and continued over the next 31 years  until  his eventual retirement in December 1992.

    Among Bob’s major clinical interests  were primary peritonitis, appendicitis and secondary peritonitis, antibiotic  peritoneal lavage, the salvage of high undescended testes

    (Fowler/ Stephens operation), anorectal problems, ureteric reflux and ureteric obstruction. 

    Among his major research interests were body water metabolism, transplantation immunology, compensatory renal growth, and the wound healing properties of saliva.

    Research Trainees: 

    In the early stages of their careers Bob mentored three successive Research Fellows -- Michael Schumacher and Malcolm Simons, both of whom went on to become clinical immunologists, and John Hutson, later to become the first Professor of Paediatric Surgery in the University of Melbourne.

    Leisure interests:

    Formerly squash and ski-ing were his recreational favourites, but failing powers have now reduced him physically to tennis, (but only three times per week), and regular riverside walks with his wife Sandie. 

    Late in life he has developed a hobby interest in cooking, but thus far has not reached shearers’ cook standards.

    For mental stimulation, he now relies on non-medical reading, and puzzle solving 

    (e.g. Sudoku), but definitely not crosswords!

    Personal Details:

    Undergraduate Training

    -  University of Melbourne  Medical School ( UMMS) 1945 - 1950

    -  Alfred Hospital Clinical School 1948 - 1950

    Graduation, Degrees and Diplomas

    -  MB, BS Univ. Melbourne 1950

    -  MD (Thesis) 1966

    -  FRACS 1957

    Clinical Appointments:

    At RCH

    - Chairman Senior Medical Staff, 1975 - 1976

    - Surgeon, Head of Unit 1975-1985

    -  Surgeon 1962-1992

    -  Surgical Research Fellow 1956- 1962

        (overseas leave of absence 1958 -1960)         

    -  Surgical Registrar 1955-1958

    At Royal Women's Hospital

    -  Paediatric Surgeon 1975-1992

    At Alfred Hospital

    • - Junior RMO 1951 
    • - Surgical and Medical Registrar rotations in 1952, including a final 3 month term in the Clinical Research Unit.

    Research Scholarships.

    • - Kimpton Trainee Research Scholar, Baker Research Institute 1953 -1954    
    • - Fulbright Scholarship,  USA Government, July 1958 - Feb 1960, held in conjunction with a research fellowship in the Children’s Hospital Research Foundation, Cincinnati, Ohio.

    Research Advisory Posts

    • - Board of Research, Royal Children’s Hospital, 1976 – 1977
    • - Research Grants Committee, Australian Kidney Foundation, 1982 – 1984

    Membership of Scientific and Professional Associations

    USA                     -  New  York Academy of Sciences 1960-1980
                                 - Society for Pediatric Research 1960-1980

    U.K.                     – British Association of Paediatric Surgeons 1967- 1992

    Australasia.        – Australian Medical Association 1950 to present
         and.                -  Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 1957 to present
       Pacific              -  Urological Society of Australasia 1972 – 1993
                                -  Pacific Association of Paediatric Surgeons 1982 – 1994

      Former Clinical and Research Interests:

      These were wide ranging, resulting in 75 co-authored clinical and research publications.