In Memoriam: David Healy 1948 – 2012

28 May 2012

Professor David Lindsay Healy PhD, FRANZCOG, FRCOG (Ad Eundem), CREI
Born on 30 September 1948, Professor David Healy passed away too early on 25 May 2012. He will be dearly missed by the families of his children Ross and Meagan, his brother, sister and his other relatives, his patients, the staff he worked with, and all his colleagues.


Professor Healy graduated from Monash University where he received the Senior Medical Staff prize in 1973. In 1977, he was the first author on a Nature paper, only his third publication as a junior researcher. In 1979 he completed a PhD at Monash University on Human Prolactin Physiology. David then trained at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne and completed his Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialty training at the National Institutes of Health, USA, and at Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1985, Professor Healy was the first Obstetrician and Gynaecologist to be awarded a Welcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellowship.

David Healy became a Professor of the Monash University Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1990 and its Chairman in 1994. Between 1991 and 1994 he served as the Associate Clinical Dean of the Monash University Faculty of Medicine. He was the Head of the Reproductive Medicine Clinic from 1997. In 2002 Professor Healy became the Chair of the Australian University Departments of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College for his many achievements.

One of Professor Healy’s great qualities was his unwavering belief in young talent. On the many boards and conference organising committees in which he was involved he would always argue to make room for the new generation. He enjoyed teaching, supervising and mentoring the countless medical students and O&G trainees. Perhaps he also terrified a few in his role as Senior Examiner in Obstetrics and Gynaecology for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and for the Australian Medical Council. He was also the Director of Education of the Monash IVF Research and Education Foundation.

David also never stopped being an active researcher. He published 255 research articles, wrote 78 book chapters, and edited 8 books, the last one an impressive reference work on endometriosis co-edited by him, Linda Giudice and Hans Evers, Endometriosis: Science and Practice. But his academic legacy will certainly live on beyond university libraries. His tremendous passion for high-quality research rubbed off easily on others, and he was a source of enduring inspiration for many impressionable young minds. Students and staff enjoyed his open-door policy and down to earth attitude, and they were often surprised to find a witty raconteur in a relaxed moment.

He served on boards of many learned societies, both nationally and internationally, and was President of the Fertility Society of Australia in 1995. After his term on the board of the Australian Gynaecological Endoscopy Society (AGES), he accepted a position as chairman of the AGES Research Committee and, despite his illness, he continued to play a crucial role on the AGES Education Committee where he helped shape the laparoscopic fellowship syllabus.

While he served on the AGES board, he was also a committed member on the WES board. Bringing the 10th World Congress on Endometriosis to Melbourne in 2008 was a major coup for David. As always, David made sure ‘youngsters’ like Jim Tsaltas and I got to learn the ropes when he appointed us as scientific programme co-chairs. He was a wonderful mentor and always willing to listen to new ideas. The only thing he would not compromise on was scientific quality and a pre-congress golf tournament for the delegates. His leadership magic turned the WCE2008, hosted by AGES, into a huge success with more than a 1000 delegates.

The accolade he was most proud of was being elected in 2007 as President of the International Federation of Fertility Societies. It was the first time in the 60-year history of the IFFS and that of its sister organisation, FIGO, that an Australian headed either organisation. In an interview he said:

“While in many countries women such as Hillary Clinton exert a strong influence on the political process and can agitate for better health care, IFFS member countries also include those where issues of fertility – especially contraception and abortion – are taboo”.

He had high hopes to bring real change for women in particular from developing countries. He certainly would want us to continue on that path.

Luk Rombauts
A/Professor, Monash University, Australia
eJournal Editor, World Endometriosis Society


What terrible, terrible news. I don’t know how to express my feelings of sadness. I was aware David was not feeling well recently, but I was utterly unprepared for this………

My condolences go to Megan and Ross, who lost both their wonderful parents in such a short time, and to all of you who had the privilege of working with David.

Professor Hans Evers
Maastricht University, The Netherlands
Immediate Past President, World Endometriosis Society


My last opportunity to talk with David was in Montpellier during WCE 2011. I didn’t know he was unwell. He was gentle and hearty as always. A very pleasant man. I am sure it has been a privilege working with him. And it has been a privilege for our Society to benefit from his collaboration. He has given much. David will continue to stay with us, in our minds and in our hearts, and the Society will remember him as a pioneer and as a scientific and moral model.

A/Professor Paolo Vercellini
University of Milano, Italy
President, World Endometriosis Society


I am so sad to hear of David’s passing. We have lost an icon in our field and a devoted mentor and family man with a biting sense of humor and a devotion to women’s health. He will be greatly missed.

Professor Linda Giudice
University of California San Francisco, USA
President Elect, World Endometriosis Society


I have a personal special tribute to David. I have been the next WES world congress president, after him in Melbourne. I have worked with David during many years in the Executive committee of IFFS, and David was presently the acting president of the IFFS. I am filled with a lot of admiration for him both for his professional competence and his personality.We shared many values, the most trivial being our common taste for wine… I am very sad and share this deep sadness with his family, his close friends and all colleagues.

Professor Bernard Hedon
University of Montpellier, France
President, 11th World Congress on Endometriosis (WCE2011)


David Healy was a great man who made an enormous contribution to so many areas of O&G and in particular endometriosis and IVF within Australia and worldwide. He will be missed and our thoughts are with his children in this most difficult time.

Dr Jim Tsaltas
President, Australasian Gynaecological Endoscopy & Surgery Society (AGES)
Head of Gynaecological Endoscopy Unit, Monash Medical Centre & Southern Health, Australia
WCE2008 Scientific Programme Co-Chair
Ambassador, World Endometriosis Society


I sensed that David wasn’t well in Montpellier and had the opportunity to thank him for the great hospitality he and his wife showed me on my first visit to Melbourne in 2000.

Professor Robert Taylor
Wake Forest School of Medicine, USA
Hon Secretary, World Endometriosis Society


It is with much sadness that we hear of the untimely passing of Professor David Healy. David was a giant in our field of reproductive medicine. He not only performed innovative research but also trained many others to follow in his footsteps. He was a visionary leader nationally and internationally, striving to bring better health care to women globally.

David will also be remembered for his character, integrity, determination and commitment to patients. He was most highly regarded by all who knew him. My lasting memory will be of the wonderful celebratory St. Andrew’s Day Dinner we shared in Melbourne last November. The affection for and high regard in which David was held by his Monash and international colleagues was evident. We shall remember him with a warm heart.

Our thoughts of strength go to David’s family, his friends and colleagues, and his patients.

Dr David Adamson
Fertility Physicians of Northern California
President, World Endometriosis Research Foundation
Board Member, International Federation of Fertility Societies
Chair, FIGO Committee on Reproductive Medicine
Chair, International Committee Monitoring ART


This is sad. David was truly a leader and an incredible friend. I remember when David and his family came to San Antonio and stayed in my home shortly after we finished our training at the NIH 30 years ago

Professor Robert Schenken
University of Texas, USA
Board Member 1998-2011, World Endometriosis Society


This is, indeed, very sad news and a great loss to all. David’s warmth and wisdom touched me deeply from the time I joined the WES Board and at the Melbourne World Congress. I was extremely honoured when he invited me to be a member of the IFFS board.

His wisdom and good sense have always captivated me and I will surely miss him. Please pass my sincerest condolences on to his family.

Professor Mauricio Abrao
University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
President, 12th World Congress on Endometriosis (2014)


We have truly lost one of the great leaders in our discipline. He has always had amazing energy to pursue excellence and inspire those around him. David was never afraid to challenge the ordinary and the status quo – and he always did so with unflinching courage. He has given such a lot to the ’cause’ of endometriosis, both in Australia and with wonderful work through our society.

And a man of great integrity.

Please convey our heartfelt sympathy to those close to David.

A/Professor Neil Johnson
University of Auckland, New Zealand
Vice President, World Endometriosis Society


May I extend our heartfelt condolences to Professor David Healy’s family. He has made a significant contribution to our cause and his passing is bringing great sadness and loss to our international community.

Deborah Bush
Chief Executive Endometriosis New Zealand
Ambassador, World Endometriosis Society


It is indeed very sad news to hear that Dr Healy passed away. I have just finished my presentation for the Buenos Aires Annual Ob/Gyn Meeting and was inspired by his recent book (shared with many other distinguished members of WES) on endometriosis (Science and Practice). He was a mentor for many, a very dedicated colleague.

Professor Edgardo Rolla
University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ambassador, World Endometriosis Society


David was a passionate and generous mentor — guiding me through my first WCE as an invited speaker. His leadership was inspiring, and his dry and engaging spirit made every conversation with him fun and insightful.

Please express my admiration and condolences to his family.

A/Professor Stacey Missmer
Harvard University, USA
Board Member, World Endometriosis Research Foundation
Ambassador, World Endometriosis Society


David was a real inspiration to me and his overt and constant support for trainees in both medicine and science has provided a foundation for many careers including mine (my first grant was from a foundation David set up). The entire field has benefited in both Australia and around the world from David’s motivation and hard work.

Dr Louise Hull
University of Adelaide, Australia
Ambassador, World Endometriosis Society


It is truly a great loss to the endometriosis research community. Although I don’t know him very well on a personal level, he struck me as a sharp-minded and sensible person and a warm human being during my brief encounter with him in Montpellier last September. We also lost a great role model for young, aspiring scientists.

He will be missed.

Professor Sun-Wei Guo
Fudan University, China
Board member, World Endometriosis Society


A real loss for many of us personally and for the Society.

Professor (Emeritus) Philippe Koninckx
University of Leuven, Belgium


What a wonderful tribute to an outstanding friend and highly respected colleague and you have truly captured all David’s qualities.

His friends in Edinburgh are all deeply saddened and hold only the fondest memories of David, someone for whom we hold the very greatest respect.

David provided myself and many of my contemporaries with support, encouragement and mentorship during our careers. David was a real champion for women in our Specialty. I would like to extend the heartfelt sadness we in Edinburgh feel at this time. David spent time at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Reproductive Biology “CRB” during the mid 80s and he is remembered with much affection.

David was a devoted family man and on behalf of his friends in Edinburgh we send our sincerest condolences to Megan and Ross and his wider family at this very sad time.

Professor Hilary Critchley
University of Edinburgh, Scotland
Board member, World Endometriosis Society