Patrick Hughes: Bringing Medicine, Art and Science to ARMILAB
Dr Patrick Hughes understands the importance of learning and pursues learning, from French to fly fishing to woodworking, in all its different shapes and forms with great aplomb. This deep appreciation of knowledge, extensive medical background, and undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and clinical research make him an exciting new addition to ARMI’s Leadership Advisory Board (ARMILAB).
“I was always going to be a doctor,” says Patrick. “My father and uncle and cousins and great uncles were doctors. It might sound trite, but I grew up in a house where caring for others in need and distress was the norm.” And become a doctor he did. Patrick graduated from Monash Medical School in 1977. He went on to work in both Australia (his adopted home) and the UK (where he grew up before his family emigrated to Australia when he was a teenager).
“Medicine is both art and science.”
Patrick was drawn to anaesthesia, his eventual medical specialisation. “Medicine is both art and science. I liked the science first. The more precise and predictable, the better, and this led me to anaesthesia as a career.” With a practice ranging from paediatrics to major reconstructive and complex airway surgery, Patrick also lectured and taught students at Monash University and the University of Melbourne and contributed to anaesthesiology research, with 15 publications. Patrick also sits on several boards, committees and panels, believing in giving back to the medical community and helping it grow.
Overall, this has been and continues to be a career that gives Patrick immense satisfaction and insight. He commented, “With age, maturity, and a greater appreciation of the complexities of life, the art of medicine has more appeal. Working with anxious, scared small children and their parents to help them negotiate an episode of acute care is far more about the art of communication and people than science.”
It is this unique perspective, a zeal for connecting with others and an appreciation of innovative thinking that Patrick will bring to ARMILAB. In fact, his favourite stories in medicine involve researchers pushing the boundaries of discovery. Patrick recounts, “I always liked the doggedness of Banting and Best and the discovery of insulin. The iconoclasm of Barry Marshall and Robin Warren in establishing the role of helicobacter in peptic ulcer disease is up there too, especially experimenting on themselves!” Patrick holds the same enthusiasm for the potential of regenerative medicine. Having been in medicine for over 40 years, Patrick can see the trajectory of change and progress. “Regenerative medicine looks like a ‘game-changer.’ After we cut it out or poison it or replace worn out or diseased tissue with a prosthesis, imagine being able to renew it?”
“Regenerative medicine looks like a ‘game-changer.’ After we cut it out or poison it or replace worn out or diseased tissue with a prosthesis, imagine being able to renew it?”
Joining ARMILAB is not the only new role Patrick has taken. He has also recently added grandfather to that list. “I enjoy my life, and more particularly, I enjoy the journey of my life and those I share it with. I have found having grandchildren to be the ultimate expression of that trajectory.”