Professor Emeritus Thomas John Martin AO

Citation for the Award of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa)

Throughout his career Professor Emeritus Jack Martin has integrated an abiding commitment to and association with this University with strong international collegiate links. After graduating from the University of Melbourne in 1960 he moved into a career position as Professor of Chemical Pathology at the University of Sheffield, UK before returning to the University of Melbourne as Foundation Professor of Medicine at the Heidelberg and Repatriation General Hospital.

His directorship of St Vincent’s Institute, held concurrently with his chairmanship of the Department of Medicine St Vincent’s Hospital was characterised by its recognition of the changing face of medical research in the 1990s. The Institute’s landmark association of industry research staff working side-by-side with academic scientists presaged later Federal Government initiatives and the Institute participated actively in early collaborative measures into breast cancer research.

Determined to understand why some cancer patients develop dangerously elevated levels of calcium in their blood, Jack Martin’s research began in the pioneering time of the recombinant DNA revolution. His search would become a story of discovery that evolved with the science and the emerging technology. His great contribution to science has been in the advancement of contemporary understanding of calcium regulating hormones, extensively developing modern concepts of bone cell biology and calcium regulating hormones. One of his most outstanding contributions was the cloning of parathyroid hormone related protein. His research has had a major impact on the understanding of bone synthesis and disorders such as osteoporosis and bone tumours. His foundation presidency of the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society, fostered this research discipline, both in Australia and internationally.

The prolific research of one of Australia’s most distinguished medical scientists has been recognised by his appointment as Officer of the Order of Australia, his election to fellowships of the Australian Academy and the Royal Society and by twelve prestigious career awards, including the Eric Susman Prize from the Royal Australasian College of Physician. He has had twelve patents granted and held eight international visiting appointments in the United Kingdom, United States, and Switzerland.

He has served on twelve state and national committees and boards, been invited, since 1997, as a guest lecturer internationally to give 75 major lectures, and his work has been extensively published in a total of 420 original papers, 178 reviews, chapters and editorials, and seven books. He has been named an Australian citation laureate in biochemistry.

In 2010 Jack Martin wrote that: ‘The task of the University is to educate people in ways that will equip them to contribute to the common good, the good of the community.’ He has embodied this principle during a career spanning fifty years. Most latterly, through his commitment to providing evidential argument for the conceptual and technical questions surrounding stem cell science and his conscientious stewardship of ethical questions in science, he continues his service to the community.