They may not be household names, or sharing the celebrity spotlight, but Australia can be justly proud of some of the brightest doctors and researchers in the world.
Professor David Kissane, Head of the Szalmuk Family Psycho-Oncology Research Unit at Cabrini, received the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in the 2018 Australia Day Honours List. This award – one of 16 in the top category – marks a long and distinguished career in medicine both in Australia and overseas. His citation read:
'For eminent service to psychiatry, particularly psycho-oncology and palliative medicine, as an educator, researcher, author and clinician, and through executive roles with a range of national and international professional medical bodies.’
Professor Kissane said that “Cabrini Health has been integral to my clinical practice and research, both in the 1990s and more recently through the support of the Szalmuk Family, who have been generous benefactors to oncology and established the Szalmuk Family Psycho-Oncology Research Unit. They have supported studies into morale and coping, which have assisted trials into Meaning and Purpose Therapy to help patients sustain a sense of value in life, despite cancer.”
Over the years he developed an independent research portfolio in cancer psychiatry, gaining international recognition for his extensive work on the impact of cancer on a family. He also developed specific models for counselling cancer patients and his work on therapy for women with early breast cancer and its ability to ease fear of cancer recurrence, has been adopted by several countries.
In 1996, he became the Foundation Professor and Director of Palliative Medicine for the University of Melbourne and established the Centre for Palliative care establishing a Master of Palliative Medicine degree and contributing to the development of palliative medicine as a discipline in Australia.
In 2003, New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre – a world renowned comprehensive cancer centre – invited Professor Kissane to become the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences. He spent the next decade growing the Department into the world’s largest and most comprehensive psycho-oncology clinical, training and research-intensive program and establishing a communication skills training laboratory to assist surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, physicians nurses and allied health practitioners in their interactions with cancer patients and their families.
On his return to Australia in 2012, Professor Kissane took up the leadership of psychiatry at Monash University and established the Psycho-Oncology Clinic at Monash Health. In parallel, he returned to psycho-oncology services and research at Cabrini Health.
“As a major private healthcare service, we are extremely proud of Professor Kissane’s achievements and his commitment to education and research,” said Professor Leanne Boyd, Executive Director of Nursing and Cabrini Institute. “His leadership of the Szalmuk Family Psycho-Oncology Research Unit at Cabrini focuses on researching psychosocial interventions to support adjustment in people affected by cancer. This award recognises the positive impact of his work on the boarder medical community and our patients and their families.”