Set your location
Clear Selection


Vale Professor Martin Tattersall AO

September 1, 2020


7 June 1941 – 30 August 2020

It is with immense sadness that we let you know that our dear friend Martin Tattersall passed away yesterday, Sunday 30 August 2020, at his home in Sydney with his family and a view of the river as he wanted.

Man looking out and to the side.

Martin will be well known to many, and if you hadn’t met him personally we are sure his work would have impacted you.

Martin’s career began when Medical Oncology was a new discipline – he and his and fellow pioneers crafted this field throughout their lives. They oversaw enormous gains in cancer survival through their dedication to clinical trials to improve chemotherapy outcomes. Martin was always focused on improving the patient experience. He was patient-centred before this term was invented. His research into ways to improve clear, empathic and empowering communication between doctor and patient was world-leading.

Martin’s professional standing was without question as exemplified by the following (quite possibly incomplete) list of affiliations and achievements.

  • Globally recognised and respected for his enormous contribution to cancer research and patient care
  • Secured over $20 million of research funding
  • Supervised more than 20 PhD and MD research students
  • Appointed Professor of Cancer Medicine at the University of Sydney in 1977, when he was a young UK cancer expert – for Australia this proved to be an enormous gain
  • Clinical academic at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
  • President of COSA 1981-1983
  • Long standing advisor to Cancer Council Australia
  • Chairman of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee 1997-2008
  • A member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Cancer Committee for 20 years
  • Life Member of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) Roll of Honour
  • Awarded the Medical Oncology Group of Australia (MOGA) Cancer Achievement Award in 2000
  • Recipient of the COSA Tom Reeve Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Care in 2007
  • Co-Director of the Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making (CeMPED) at the University of Sydney

As one of his closest colleagues, Professor Phyllis Butow said “Martin was a gentleman in the true sense of the word. He was respectful, gentle and humble, inclusive of all.”