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Beacon of brilliance inspires new medal

A medal honouring the life and achievements of Professor Chris Del Mar AM, who oversaw the establishment of the University’s Medical Program, is being launched.

Professor Del Mar passed away in February, three years after he was seriously injured in a surfing accident on the Gold Coast. will recognise excellence and achievement and be awarded to the best performing medical student in their year of graduation.

Professor Del Mar studied medicine at the University of Cambridge before moving to Mackay in Queensland in 1977 and establishing a general practice.

In 1994 he became Professor and Head of General Practice at the University of Queensland. He moved to Bond University in 2004 where he was Dean of Health Sciences & Medicine, and Pro Vice Chancellor (Research).

Professor Del Mar launched the Medical Program in 2005 and oversaw the graduation of the first cohort of 72 medical students.

More recently he was Professor of Public Health at the University’s Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare.

During his academic career he developed an international reputation in the management of acute respiratory infections, general practice research, evidence-based medicine, systematic reviews, and randomised controlled trials.

Professor Del Mar was a former chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) National Research Committee, and a former President of the Australian Association for Academic General Practice.

For 20 years he volunteered as the Co-ordinating Editor of the international Cochrane Collaboration’s Acute Respiratory Infection Group. In 2008 he was honoured with the RACGP’s highest award, the Rose-Hunt Medal, and in 2015 was appointed a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Last year Professor Del Mar was named a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for significant service to tertiary education, to health and medical research, and to professional bodies. The Governor of Queensland Dr Jeanette Young presented the award at his home late last year.

The Valedictorian of the Bond Medical Program’s inaugural cohort, Dr Madeline Duke, told a memorial service for Professor Del Mar that he was ‘the most wonderful Dean, a kind and nurturing man’.

“I will never forget him bounding up the stairs, and on so many occasions saying ‘Oh Maddy, might you have a second, I would love to know how x, y or z is going'," Dr Duke said. “One of my colleagues put it so well:

‘Professor Del Mar had the rare gift of always maintaining a great sense of professionalism and authority whilst at the same time being disarmingly approachable, inclusive, so nurturing, super funny, and we always felt like he was invested in us’. It was so apparent that he worked hard to make the program great and he led by example, absolutely inspiring the same commitment and dedication from us.”

Informing University staff of Professor Del Mar’s death, Vice Chancellor and President Professor Tim Brailsford said he had been an inspiration to his colleagues as a valued contributor to both research and teaching.

“His professionalism, attention to detail, mentoring of junior colleagues, and ever inquisitive passion to search for answers to global health challenges are hallmarks, together with his sense of humour and infectious esprit de corps,” Professor Brailsford said.

“Professor Del Mar had an exceptional academic and clinical career, and his research had a global impact.

“He will be deeply missed by his many former students, colleagues, and many friends. Our sincerest thoughts and condolences are with Chris’s wife, Professor Tammy Hoffmann and the extended family.”

To contribute to the establishment of the Chris Del Mar Medal, click here.

This article appears in the current edition of Bond University's alumni magazine The Arch.

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