Our History

Dr John Horan was the first to introduce gastroscopy in Australia. In 1937 he travelled to the USA to study with Rudolph Schindler in Chicago, the inventor of the modern flexible gastroscope. He brought back one of the Schindler gastroscopes to Australia and was appointed honorary physician to outpatients at St Vincent’s. John served with distinction in World War II, even taking his gastroscope to war. After the war, he returned to his appointment at St Vincent’s and entered private practice as a consultant physician.

The Gastroenterological Diagnostic Unit was formed at St Vincent’s Hospital in 1966. Dr Luke Murphy was the head of the Unit and introduced the first fibre-optic gastroscope to the hospital. Dr Jim Rankin was the first trained hepatologist at St. Vincent’s Hospital, working within the Department of Medicine. The GE Diagnostic Unit was renamed the Gastroenterology Unit in January 1975 when Dr Kerry Breen was appointed as the first full-time staff gastroenterologist. Dr Breen was appointed Director of the Gastroenterology Unit in 1978, with Dr Luke Murphy, Dr Peter Davies and Professor Greg Whelan as physicians in the Department. Dr Breen served in that role until 1993 when he was seconded to two other senior positions within the hospital. A/Prof Paul Desmond was Director of the Department of Gastroenterology from 1993 – 2013. The current Director is Professor Alex Thompson, who was appointed in 2014.