Dr E V (Bill) Keogh

Dr E. V. KeoghThe influence of Dr E V (Bill) Keogh has spread widely in Australian medicine, yet his name isn't well known to the general public. He was a modest and private person. But his contribution to the development of pathology and public medicine in Australia was incalculable, and his help and advice is remembered warmly by many.

As with many young men of his generation, Keogh's career was shaped by World War I. He was a stretcher-bearer at Gallipoli and a machine gunner on the Western Front. He was twice decorated.

His interests lay in the field of epidemiology. He worked with the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and the Victorian Health department and was later medical adviser to the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria (now Cancer Council Victoria). During his time here, he spent ‘most of his waking hours' attending to its affairs.

Dr Keogh was not concerned with his own prestige or reputation but rather working to further the efforts of others in the frontline of research. A substantial bequest was held in trust by the Anti-Cancer Council after Dr Keogh's passing in order to fund the research instigated by his protégé, Don Metcalf. Professor Metcalf later discovered CSF (colony stimulating factor), which was a breakthrough in cancer research and has since saved thousands of lives.

In 1955 he accepted an invitation from the Melbourne Medical Post-Graduate Committee to lecture in ‘Immunology Past and Present'. This lecture was described in the 1980s as showing Dr Keogh to have been years ahead of his time in matters of immunology and infection resistance.

During his career he had many published works, which included an article on Asian flu in 1957, which appeared in the American Journal of Hygiene. In 1958 he was published in the Medical Journal of Australia for his report on mortality from leukaemia in Victoria. In 1963 an article by Dr Keogh and George Read appeared in the Australian Journal of Experimental Biology and Medical Science. His last published work was in Nature in 1965, in collaboration with RA Walsh, an old army colleague.

It's thought that Dr Keogh had a profound affect on research workers, both here and overseas; his correspondence abounds with letters from medical men and scientists requesting facts, figures and opinions.

His service in World War II was distinguished, contributing to the control of malaria and dysentery. But perhaps his greatest achievement was to discern and nurture qualities in others and help them achieve to the limit of their ability.


Material adapted from EV Keogh: Soldier, Scientist and Administrator, by Lyndsay Gardiner 1990, Hyland House Publishing, South Yarra.

Updated: 29 Jan, 2013