History

Gastroenterology in Australia began as a specialty in the late 1940s with the return of inspired, dedicated and ambitious people from war service and overseas registrar positions. Early gastroenterologists such as Ian Wood, William Morrow, William King, Peter Parsons and Rod Andrew combined teaching, clinical work and research with leadership and mentoring. They established the foundations for growth of gastroentoerology as a specialty in Australia, and paved the way for the next generation of physicians with a passion for the gut.


1940s

  • The first gastroenterology clinical unit is founded in Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.  Gastroenterology begins as a specialty in Australia (Late 1940s).

1950s

  • The expansion of gastroenterological understanding and the emergence of a career pathway.
  • A meeting of interested individuals is held in Sydney to discuss the formation of a society for gastroenterology (1958).
  • The Gastroenterological Society of Australia is established (1959).

1960s

  • Gastroenterology develops as a specialty and establishes itself as a separate discipline within internal medicine in Australia.
  • The Gastroenterological Society of Australia hosts the 3rd Asian Pacific Congress of Gastroenterology in Melbourne (1968).
  • The Bushell Lectureship is established (1969).

1970s

  • The Society decides to formulate a definition of a gastroenterologist, and begins to clarify its aims as an advisor to government and an educator for medical practitioners.

1980s

  • The Society focuses on membership, generating and fostering research activities, and promoting high standards of clinical practice.
  • The Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology is established (1984).
  • Establishment of the Research Institute for the promotion of research (1986).

1990s

  • The Conjoint Committee for Recognition of Training in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy is formed.
  • The 1990 World Congress of Gastroenterology is held in Sydney.
  • The need for specialty sections within the Society is recognised.
  • The Australian Gastroenterology Institute (AGI) is launched (1991).
  • GESA's scientific meeting is moved to October and renamed Australian Gastroenterology Week (AGW) (1993).
  • The Endoscopy and Hepatology sections are respectively named the Australian Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Association (AGEA) and Australian Liver Association (ALA). The Australian Hepatic, Pancreatic & Biliary Association (AHPBA) is created (Late 1990s).
  • The AGI changes its name to Digestive Health Foundation (DHF) (1999).

2000s

  • The 1st Asian Pacific Digestive Week is held. The emergence of the Digestive Health Foundation as the umbrella for the Society's public education arm takes form. There is quality improvement in clinical practice.
  • The Inaugural Asian Pacific Digestive Week (APDW) is held in Sydney (2001).
  • The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awarded The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2005 jointly to Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren (WA) for their discovery of "the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease".

*This selection of historical events is summarised from Russell, Emma & Sheedy, Katherine. 2009. A Passion for the Gut: the evolution of gastroenterology in Australia: Gastroenterological Society of Australia, Sydney.