Phelan, Peter AM

  • Peter Phelan3Date and place of birth

    12 November 1936, Brisbane, Australia

    University attended

    The University of Queensland
    Harvard School of Public Health

    Academic qualifications

    B.Sc.(Hons 2), MB BS (Hons.1), MD,  FRACP

     Positions held in The Royal Children's Hospital

    • 1970 - 1974   Physician, Deputy Director, Clinical Research Unit, the RCH Research Foundation
    • 1974 - 1983   Director, Department of Thoracic Medicine;  1983 - 1996  Chief Thoracic Physician
    • 1983 - 1995  Member, Committee of Management and Board of the RCH Research Foundation
    • 1986 - 1997  Member of the Board, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

    Positions held elsewhere

    • 1983 - 1997   Stevenson Professor and Head, Dept of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne
    • 1993 - 1997   Assistant Dean for Postgraduate Studies, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
    • 1997- current  Professor Emeritus of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne
    • 2001 - 2003 Planning Dean, Medical School, Bond University
    • 1976  Visiting Professor, Institute of Child Health, University of London
    • 1982  Visiting Fellow, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge
    • 1974 - 1977  Honorary Secretary, Thoracic Society of Australia
    • 1978 - 1981 Honorary Secretary and Foundation Registrar, Australian College of Paediatrics
    • 1981 - 1987  Member Board of Censors and then Committee for Examinations, Royal Australasian College of Physicians
    • 1995 - 1998  President, Australian College of Paediatrics
    • 1997 - 1999  Chairman, Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges
    • 1999 - 2001 Chairman of the Australian Medial Council Consultative Committee on the Accrediation of Specialist Education and Training and Professional Development Programs.  This committee designed and oversaw the implementation of accreditation of the Specialist Medical Colleges’ Education and Training Programs
    • 2001 - 2002  Member of the Australian Medical Council and Chairman of its Specialist Accreditation Advisory Committee
    • 1995 Member of the Metropolitan Hospitals Planning Board
    • 1991 - 2000  Member and Deputy Chairman 1994-96, Australian Casemix Clinical Committee and 1992-92 Victorian Casemix Advisory Committee. These committees played a key role in the introduction of casemix based funding for hospitals in Australia and, in particular, Victoria
    • 1996 - 2004 Health Consultant to public and private sectors with emphasis on health policy, health service delivery and medical education. Probably most important was in 2001 for the Australian Health Ministers
    • Advisory Committee on “The Impact on Medical Specialist Training of Changes in the Health Care Sector –The Need for Community Based Training”.  This report strongly recommended the need to extend medical specialist training into the private sector which has been slowly implemented.
    • 2004 - 2010  Member of the Board, Cabrini Health, Melbourne and its Chairman 2006-2010

    Clinical interests

    Paediatric respiratory illness including cystic fibrosis.

    Endoscopy of the paediatric respiratory tract.


    Respiratory physiology of infants and children.

    Epidemiology of asthma.

    Factors effecting survival in cystic fibrosis.

    Career highlights/memorable moments

    Appointment as Stevenson Professor of Paediatrics.

    Facilitating the appointment of Professor Bob Williamson as Director of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

    Publication of 4 editions of co-authored textbook “Respiratory Illness in Children”.

    Foundation Associate Editor of “Pediatric Pulmonology”.

    Chairmanship of the Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges and from that the introduction of accreditation by the Australian Medical Council of Medical College Education and Training Programs which effectively moved most Colleges from being simply certifying bodies to being publicly accountable for their training and professional development programs.

    Chairing the Board of Cabrini Health.

    Career achievements – in addition to above

    Training of most of the next generation of paediatric thoracic physicians in Australia and paediatric thoracic physicians from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, NZ, Canada, USA, Costa Rica, Brazil, Chile, Singapore, Thailand, China, and Japan.

    Seeing more than 20 of former fellows and staff members achieve full professorial status in Australia and overseas.

    Honours and awards

    • 1961  W N Robertson Medal – top medical graduate, University of Q’ld
    • 1969  Overseas Travelling Scholarship, RACP
    • 1992 Windermere Orator, British Paediatric Association
    • 1996 Research Medal, Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand
    • 1996 Vernon Collins Orator, Royal Children’s Hospital
    • 1996 Gold Medal, Royal Children’s Hospital
    • 1997 Medal, European Respiratory Society
    • 1999 Medal, Royal Australasian College of Physicians
    • 2004 Howard Williams Orator and Medal, Division of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal Australasian College of Physicians
    • 2008 Appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM in the General Division) For service to medicine, particularly in the area of paediatrics as an academic and administrator and through contributions to the development of health care delivery and clinical practice management.