Four members of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) have this year received Australia Day honours for outstanding contributions in their respective fields.

The recipients of Australia Day honours were Professor Olaf Drummer, Professor Catriona McLean, Associate Professor Beverley Rowbotham, and Dr Russell Lain.

Professor Olaf Drummer is a forensic pharmacologist and toxicologist and is currently Professor of Forensic Medical Science at Monash University, located at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Professor Drummer has published extensively. His main research contribution has been in the field of public health and prevention of drug-related harm.

‘My main field of expertise has been in the field of prescribed and illicit drugs, their impact and how to prevent the harm caused by them,’ said Professor Drummer.

‘It was a great feeling to be recognised by one’s colleagues and peers and to have my achievements recognised.’

Professor Drummer set up a world-leading toxicology lab at Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and has appeared in 100s of court cases, providing evidence on the likely effects of drugs. He has a number of research projects underway at present.

Professor Catriona McLean is currently working as Professor and Head of the Department of Anatomical Pathology at Alfred Health in Melbourne. Professor McLean recently received Australia Day honours for a lifetime of achievement and contribution to the health sector, notably to neuroscience and pathology.

Professor McLean’s experience in the health sector includes: publication of over 400 papers; supervision of research students and pathology trainees; membership of multiple scientific advisory committees and the ethics committee of Alfred Health; Chair of Senior Medical Staff at the Alfred; Professor of the Pathology Board of Education for Monash University; Professorial positions at Monash University Central Clinical School and the Howard Florey Neurosciences Institute; Director of the Australian Brain Bank Network and the Victorian Neuromuscular Laboratory service; honorary Pathologist for the Australian and New Zealand Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (ANZCJD) registry and the Victorian Brain Bank.

‘Having been intimately involved with the health, education, training, and pathology sector for the last four decades, it’s lovely to see that those efforts are valued,’ said Professor McLean.

‘There have been so many fantastic institutions and people I’ve worked with. It’s great to see the work of the pathology sector recognised for the vital role it plays within the health sector more broadly.’

Associate Professor Beverley Rowbotham wears several hats. Besides practicing as a haematologist, Professor Rowbotham is currently the Chair of the National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council (NPAAC) as well as being the pathology representative on the Federal Council for the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

Whether advising the NPAAC on pathology policy and accreditation, representing pathology before the AMA, or speaking to government and funding bodies, Professor Rowbotham is a passionate advocate for the role of pathology.

‘We’re extremely lucky to have a world-leading pathology sector in Australia. It’s really a jewel in the crown of Australian healthcare.

‘I sometimes liken pathology to an electricity grid. If it goes down, the health system doesn’t work. That’s why I’m such a strong advocate for its role.’

Into the future, Professor Rowbotham plans on developing accreditation standards that focus on patient safety, having recently been reappointed to the position of Chair at the NPAAC.

Dr Russell Lain worked as a practising dentist for twenty years before moving into the world of forensic odontology – with only 21 specialists in his field in Australia.

This has involved Dr Lain travelling around the world to help identify victims in global tragedies by looking at their teeth.

‘Day to day I work at the Sydney Dental Hospital in Surry Hills and do case work in coronial system, but I’ve also been involved in traumatic international events such as the Thai Tsunami and the Bali bombing.

‘I’m also heavily involved in the Unrecovered War Casualties Army, which looks for missing Australian service personnel around the globe of which there are over 20,000,’ said Dr Lain.

‘I was delighted and elated to win Australia Day Honours. It felt like a validation not just of my work but all the people I’ve worked with and their contributions too.’