Professor James Bishop AO

Citation for the Award of Doctor of Medical Science (honoris causa)

In 1971, US President Richard Nixon declared ‘war’ on cancer, turning the despair and frustration of generations of cancer patients and medical scientists into a clearly articulated ambition to cure cancer through the combined efforts of the government, funders and researchers. A year later, James Bishop graduated MBBS from the University of Melbourne – ahead of him, a career that would trace the extraordinary journey of discovery over 45 years in cancer medicine.

His early career was spent in Victoria, at a number of major hospitals where cancer was treated and a Fulbright scholarship took him to the USA for three years with the National Institutes of Health. He evolved into a strong clinical leader, researcher, educator and patient advocate and his experience provided the grounding for him to develop his vision of bringing together clinical work and research.

After a long association with The Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, James Bishop moved to Sydney where he founded and led the Sydney Cancer Centre at Royal Prince Alfred and Concord Hospitals. His vast experience as a clinician, a leader and administrator, brought him to the notice of governments and appointments to a number of key government roles followed: Chief Health Officer for NSW, Chief Cancer Officer for NSW, Director of the Office of Population Health and Deputy Director General of Health in NSW and two years as Chief Medical Officer for Australia.

In a career that has produced over 205 peer-reviewed scientific papers, 42 monographs, a number of government reports and reviews, and editorial responsibility for the publication Cancer Facts, James Bishop has brought his experience to many public health campaigns. He contributed to the market research phases, delivery and promotion of many cancer awareness campaigns, ranging from the familiar QUIT campaigns for smoking cessation to campaigns warning about the dangers of tanning, excessive sun exposure and solaria.

James Bishop understands profoundly, that complex medical and social problems require insights from a combination of perspectives. As a leader in health, as an advisor to our policy makers and as a man of vision and compassion, in 2011, he responded to the Victorian Government’s call to bring together Victoria’s oncology clinical and research strengths to create a Comprehensive Cancer Centre for the state.

As Executive Director for the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, James Bishop steered the creation of this new collaborative entity from its conception in 2011 to its opening in 2016, setting strategic direction, helping to establish new programs and nurturing new clinical leaders as well as supervising programs in personalised medicine, living with cancer and clinical trials.

Among his many other achievements, James Bishop has maintained a strong and vital presence in research, clinical trials and on many boards and associations, both nationally and internationally. In 2008, he was awarded an Order of Australia for services to cancer research and cancer services.

James Bishop is awarded the Doctor of Medical Science honoris causa for his service to the Australian community and leadership in the field of oncology, and his vison for an integrated, collaborative model of research and care now manifest in the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.