Richard Larkins AC

Citation for the award of the 2002 Sir William Upjohn Medal

Richard Larkins graduated MBBS from the University of Melbourne and trained in diabetes and endocrinology at The Royal Melbourne Hospital becoming assistant endocrinologist in 1970. During this period, he carried out research in obesity and after his fourth paper was published in Nature in 1972, was awarded the MD by the University of Melbourne. He spent two years in the UK on Churchill and MRC Fellowships where he worked at Hammersmith Hospital and was awarded a PhD by the University of London before returning to Melbourne in 1974.

He served the University of Melbourne as James Stewart Chair of Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital from 1984 to 1997, as Deputy Dean from 1996, then as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences from 1998 to 2003 when he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Monash University. As Dean he led the smooth transition of the medical course from a curriculum in which departments held responsibility for teaching subjects, to an integrated pre-clinical/clinical curriculum with particular emphasis on problem-based learning. He carefully nurtured the internationalisation of the student cohort and successfully negotiated arrangements for entire cohorts of undergraduates to undertake a research training year with university departments and affiliated research institutes and hospitals.

He chaired the National Health and Medical Research Council from 1997 to 2000 at a time of profound change and growth; his leadership contributing to greatly improved funding for health and medical research. He also served as a member of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, as President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, as a member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council and as Chair of Universities Australia.

Richard Larkins’ leadership of medicine in Australia includes his advocacy for increased investment in health research, his contributions to health policy reform, and his innovations in medical teaching and training. In addition to the Sir William Upjohn Medal, Richard Larkins has been awarded the Eric Susman Prize for medical research in 1982 and a Centenary of Federation Medal in 2002. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2002 and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2019.