Tributes paid to ‘giant of neurology’


19 May 2022

Tributes have been paid to former Austin Hospital neurologist Professor Peter Bladin, a pioneer in areas such as epilepsy and stroke, who has died at the age of 94.

Described by former colleagues as a ‘legend’, Professor Bladin was renowned for his work at the Austin, where he served as the inaugural Director of Neurology.

Professor Bladin qualified in 1954 and was an inspiration and set up an epilepsy unit at the Austin in 1969, where he helped developed novel approaches such as epilepsy surgery.

He was a mentor to many of in Australia’s neurology and neuroscience communities through his groundbreaking clinical work at the hospital and research at the University of Melbourne

In an article in The Lancet, Professor Sam Berkovic described how he was inspired to specialise in epilepsy research and management after doing a training rotation in neurology at Austin Hospital under Professor Bladin in the late 1970s.

At the time, neurology was not much of a scientific discipline, with a focus more on diagnosis instead of patient management, according to Prof Berkovic.

Neurology was all about, “the superspecialist consultant who was interested in putting an eponymous name on an ataxia rather than in practical neurology”, he told the journal.

“There are two really important common diseases in neurology that weren’t well managed at all by neurologists, and those were stroke and epilepsy. Peter really started those areas in Australia as scientific disciplines”, said Professor Berkovic.

The Epilepsy Society of Australia’s highest honour is named the Peter Bladin Award in recognition of his outstanding service to epilepsy in Australia.

Professor Bladin was also a pioneer in setting up the first research-backed stroke unit in Melbourne in 1978 in conjunction with Professor Geoffrey Donnan and Prof Steven David, and was instrumental in setting up the Australian Stroke Society.

His son Chris is also a stroke specialist neurologist and now Clinical Lead of the Victorian Stroke Telemedicine Program.

Already a member?

Login to keep reading.

Email me a login link