Intended for healthcare professionals


Brian M Davies

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: (Published 05 February 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n341
  1. Roger Glass

Brian Davies, Victoria’s first professor of psychiatry, has died at the age of 92. He taught a generation of Melbourne University medical students and postgraduates. He established Melbourne’s first academic department of psychiatry, taking up the Melbourne University Cato chair of psychiatry in 1964.

His quiet, diffident, and, at times, enigmatic nature resulted in a leadership style that enabled department staff to feel free to pursue their research passions while also being gently guided and supported, yet nudged when necessary.

The department that he led quickly gained an enviable reputation for wide ranging quality research, excellent teaching, and state of the art treatment and caring of patients.

The son of a Welsh coal miner, he followed his older brother to Cardiff University Medical School. He graduated in 1950, his medical training having included just one lecture in psychiatry. He said: “I wasn’t interested—in those days psychiatry was the last chapter in the medical textbooks. I just wanted to be a physician like my brother.”

Having completed physician training Brian asked senior colleagues for advice regarding what should be his next career step. “Do psychiatry training—psychiatry will be big in four years” was the advice.

Brian was able to …

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