Vale Professor Martin Tattersall AO

It is with profound sadness that we mark the death of our great friend, mentor and colleague, Emeritus Professor Martin Tattersall AO.

Prof Tattersall was a founding Board Director and member of ANZSA (then known as ASSG). It was his vision to bring together the adult and paediatric sarcoma researchers around Australia and New Zealand to improve the outcomes of patients with sarcoma.

He served on the ANZSA Board for nearly ten years and continued as a member of the ANZSA Scientific Advisory Committee. His commitment to sarcoma research and treatment is unparalleled, and he truly was the “Father of Medical Oncology” in Australia (or as he corrected in later years, the “Grandfather of Oncology”). ANZSA was honoured to present Prof Tattersall with the ANZSA Life Time Achievement Award in Sarcoma Research in 2018. 

Prof Tattersall had a huge impact on cancer treatment in Australia and had particular interests in the implementation of multi-disciplinary cancer care and improving communication between oncologists, patients and family doctors. The multi-disciplinary team approach is critical for sarcoma patient care and has been a bedrock of ANZSA’s mission, thanks to his vision, energy and leadership.

Prof Tattersall’s commitment not only to the patients in his care but in mentoring and supporting the development of young cancer researchers and clinicians is legendary; supervising many PhD and MD research students. Many of Australia’s current Medical Oncologists have been influenced by Prof Tattersall’s expertise, warmth, intelligence, and humour.

During Prof Tattersall’s extraordinary career, he was a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Cancer Committee for 20 years and was a Life Member of the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) Roll of Honour. He was awarded the Medical Oncology Group of Australia (MOGA) Cancer Achievement Award in 2000. He chaired the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee (ADEC) from 1997-2008. He served as Chairman of the Medical Grants Advisory Committee and as a Director of the Board of Trustees for Cure Cancer. He was a recipient of the Tom Reeve Award for outstanding contribution to cancer care by Clinical Oncology Society of Australia.

Prof Tattersall’s work will continue to influence sarcoma care in Australia and globally. His desire to ensure progress in sarcoma biology and treatments, including paediatric types, ensures he is recognised as a holistic sarcoma pioneer for all.

Prof Tattersall’s impact will continue through the generations of clinicians and researchers that have directly benefitted from his leadership, mentorship, guidance and support. He was a compassionate teacher and friend for patients and colleagues across all ages and will be a sorely missed.

We in the sarcoma community mourn his passing and are grateful for his incredible contributions.  His life was well lived, and he will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to his family.

To honour Prof Tattersall’s incredible contribution to sarcoma research and care, ANZSA has named the plenary lecture at our annual scientific meeting The Professor Martin Tattersall Lecture