Phil Clingan OAM

Honorary Doctor of Science

Citation delivered by Professor Alison Jones, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Philip Rodney Clingan as a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) on 28 April 2016.

Vice-Chancellor, I present Philip Clingan.

Professor Clingan is a highly talented and dedicated oncologist and cancer researcher who has made substantial contributions to the people of the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, and an outstanding national and international contribution to cancer research.

His skills and expertise as an oncologist have saved countless lives and his significant contributions to cancer research have set the standard for treatment regimes around the world for colon, breast and lung cancer.

The Illawarra and Shoalhaven communities are very fortunate that, 30 years ago, an aspirational young oncologist saw an opportunity in Wollongong and moved to the region with his wife, Margaret and four young daughters. His ambition to create a ‘world class cancer treatment centre where no disadvantage is experienced by being treated in a regional setting’ began with the establishment of the Department of Medical Oncology for the Illawarra Area Health Service in 1986. Professor Clingan’s determination to provide better treatment and enhance patient care resulted in major improvements in facilities for treating those affected by cancer – most notably the establishment of Cancer Care Centres in Wollongong and Nowra. Prior to Professor Clingan’s arrival, Illawarra residents had little option other than to travel to Sydney for life-saving chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

In pursuit of his goals, Professor Clingan has actively led funding-raising drives and helped raise over $3 million for the Illawarra Area Health Service. He seeks out and encourages community fund-raising groups, and is particularly involved with Illawarra Cancer Carers (of which he is Patron) and Rotary. He successfully lobbied for the upgrade of cancer services for the Illawarra and Shoalhaven and for a mammography service in the Illawarra, and he continues to lobby the government for further funding to enable the Illawarra’s cancer treatment facilities to keep pace with population growth. Professor Clingan also played a pivotal role in bringing the first linear accelerator to Wollongong Hospital to facilitate targeted radiotherapy, and, more recently, played an important part in lobbying for the expansion of local diagnostic and treatment facilities, resulting in the Illawarra now having access to a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning machine.

Professor Clingan’s standing in the national and international oncology community is reflected in his more than 115 publications, including more than 60 peer reviewed articles in highly respected journals such as The Lancet. More importantly, however, has been the lasting impact of some of his published work, which includes the results of more than 80 clinical trials involving researchers and patients from throughout the world. Foremost amongst these is an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004, which considered the results of a trial that involved patients from 120 centres worldwide, including 38 Illawarra residents. This study demonstrated that patients who were treated with a particular drug combination showed significantly better outcomes for the treatment of their colorectal cancer - one of the most common forms of cancer in the developed world. The seminal nature of this contribution is apparent when noting that this journal article has now been cited over 1,400 times.

Professor Clingan has formed an enduring relationship with the University of Wollongong. He played an important role in the establishment of the Graduate School of Medicine through his service on the foundation committee and, as an Honorary Clinical Professor with the School of Medicine, he continues to be actively involved in the University’s postgraduate medical teaching program. Professor Clingan also held an Honorary Senior Fellowship in the Biomolecular Science Institute at UOW from 2005-2009. Additionally, he is involved with the development of new cancer treatment protocols, in collaboration with researchers at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute.

Professor Clingan has stated that his life goal is to help others, and he strives to give the best possible treatment and care to each and every patient. While he feels his work is a privilege, in 2012 he was recognised for his significant achievements and contributions by being awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for ‘service to medicine, particularly in the field of oncology, to medical education, and to professional organisations’.

Vice-Chancellor, for his outstanding contribution and dedicated service to the medical profession; particularly in the fields of cancer research, education and treatment, and his significant contribution to this University, it is a privilege and pleasure to present Professor Philip Clingan for a Doctor of Science, honoris causa.