Hosking, Clifford

  • Clifford Hosking

    Place and date of birth: Brisbane 8 Oct 1938

    Cliff Hosking attended the University of Queensland, graduating in 1962. His early post-graduate training was at the RCH Brisbane where he obtained his MRACP in 1967 (later converted to FRACP). He then embarked on his first major project, for which he was awarded an MD degree on 'Acute Iron Poisoning’ - a scourge at the time when ferrous sulphate tablets were the preferred treatment for iron deficiency anaemia (particularly in pregnancy where expectant mothers often had toddlers in the house) and they were prescribed in easily-opened clear glass bottles, resembling ‘Smarties’.

    His main mentor in Brisbane was Ron O’Reilly who had worked with Howard Williams in Melbourne on the definitive paper on paediatric bronchiectasis. Ron suggested completing his training in Paediatrics at the RCH. Cliff sought local advice on what he should specialise in, as by this time he had developed an interest in laboratory medicine. The then Director of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research suggested that as there were no immunologists in Queensland, that would be a good field.

    In Melbourne, Cliff was to have worked with the brilliant Robert Fowler, who had been building up a Renal Transplant Unit in the Department of Surgery, but who resigned two weeks before Cliff arrived! Douglas Stephens was a most gracious host and scientific stimulus to Cliff, as he was to so many junior staff. However, Alan Williams, another great mentor, took him under his wing in Pathology and there Cliff remained for the remainder of his career at RCH. The other person who had a profound effect on him at that time was a young maverick immunologist from New Zealand, Malcolm Simons, described by Gus Nossal as a genius. His career had many controversial highlights and he was often ridiculed, though later shown to be correct. He died in 2013 after a long battle with multiple myeloma.

    Cliff obtained an Uncle Bob’s Club Scholarship and a Wellcome Fellowship to work in London with John Soothill and his great staff at the Institute of Child Health, including Mac Turner, a very fine immunochemist from whom he learnt a great deal, and they remain friends.

    In 1971 he was appointed as staff immunologist at RCH, being the first such appointment in an Australian hospital. He attended a one-month live-in leadership development program at Mount Eliza. This was a huge benefit, putting him well ahead in the medical management game and well-placed to become Chairman of the Pathology Division, when CEO Barry Catchlove was very keen on people in senior management positions having some management training.

    Cliff resigned from the RCH in 1990 to move to Newcastle with his wife, Trish Davidson, the newly-appointed Director of Paediatric Surgery at John Hunter Hospital. For a year he worked only a session a fortnight as an outpatient VMO while looking after their new baby Sarah – now (2016) training in Paediatrics at RCH. After a 6 month paediatric locum in Maitland, Cliff was appointed Director of Paediatrics at John Hunter Hospital following John Boulton’s departure

    He maintained this position for 15 years while building up a significant allergy practice at JHH, and developing an interest in medical decision making, hospital funding paradigms, length-of-stay analysis etc., later becoming the medical quality management director at a Newcastle public hospital. He retired finally from medical practice in 2008.

    A great continuing interest and delight for him has been the The Melbourne Atopy Cohort Study in collaboration with David Hill (and a cast of thousands). This remains a major study of the development of allergies from the time of birth, particularly regarding the development of eczema and asthma and their relationship to food and other allergies. Originally funded by Nestlé, it continues within the Centre for Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the University of Melbourne.

    Positions held at The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne

    Research Fellow

    Medical Officer to the Immunology Laboratory 

    Clinical Immunologist

    Director of Immunology

    Chairman Pathology Division

    Positions held elsewhere

    Visiting Research Fellow, Institute of Child Health, London 

    Visiting Professor, Department of Pediatric Immunology, Harvard University

    Visiting Professor, VA Hospital, Stanford University

    VMO Paediatric Division, John Hunter Hospital

    Director Department of Paediatrics, John Hunter Hospital.

    Visiting Fellow in Hospital Administration, Department of Surgery, Toronto General Hospital

    Clinical Interests

    Paediatric immunology and allergy, hospital management.

    A Career Memorable Moment

    Arriving at the RCH as a Research Fellow to find that his research supervisor had just resigned!

    Career Achievements

    Maintaining good relationships with most of the staff he has been privileged to work with.

    Non-medical Interests

    Cliff has always drawn and painted. Many will remember his scribbling portraits of fellow members of committees at the RCH (one of the curses of becoming more senior was that he chaired more meetings and found it hard to chair and sketch).
    He had a number of group art exhibitions while in Melbourne and now has a solo exhibition of about 40 paintings each year, also participating in exhibitions by a portrait group and a life drawing group. He is now a full-time artist, mainly in watercolour, and loves teaching watercolour and drawing from his Newcastle studio. Interestingly, his career started in Melbourne with Dougie Stevens. He later had a solo watercolour exhibition at a surgical congress in Melbourne in 1996 which Dougie kindly and generously opened - that was the last time Cliff met that great scientist and fellow watercolourist.

    He has recently taken up barbershop harmony (a capella singing), which again is a great joy.

    And finally, he very much enjoys his family – his wife Trish Davidson, their two children, and three children and nine grandchildren from his previous marriage.