I began my interest in Clinical Microbiology at the age of sixteen when a school friend (Dr Richard Thiele, now a successful and famous Plastic Surgeon in Brisbane) and I investigated the immune response of mice to the then current rubella immunisation. The project was not a great success, but it spurred me on. It was conducted at Queensland Medical Laboratory under the supervision of Dr W. Ross Forgan-Smith. At the end of the project, Dr Forgan-Smith asked me to work at the laboratory in the vacation before I started my medical studies. During that time I learnt some basic immunoserology and performed a comparison between the current rubella HAI, EIA and FIA. At the tender age of seventeen and only in my first year as a medical student I presented a paper at the Australian Society for Microbiology's Annual General Meeting in 1983.
I continued to work at QML while studying medicine and earned enough to pay my way through my studies. During my preclinical years, I worked part-time and during vacations. It was at that stage I began as a technical aid, cleaning fæces sieves, changing medol containers, and wrapping biohazard bags. After a couple of years I was asked to work weekends in the laboratory as a technician. I was taught the faeces bench and respiratory bench.
In 1986 I took a year off and completed my Bachelor of Medical Science. I did a project on infantile gastroenteritis and spent a large part of my time up to my elbows in infants' stool looking for HRV by EM, LA and EIA. During that year I also learnt the other major culture reading benches and mycological microscopy for dermatophytes. I was then able to work more usefully on weekends and at night. After completing my B.Med.Sc. [Dist.], I was able to work and be paid as a scientist. Working an average of 25 to 30 hours per week as well as studying meant I could secure myself financially while I completed my medical training.
At the end of 1989, as a sixth year medical student I was privileged to be made a Member of the Australian Society for Microbiology. This was a real thrill because I had earned this before completing my medical qualifications later that year.
In 1990 and 1991 I completed my intern and JHO years at Princess Alexandra Hospital doing rotations in urology, general surgery, general medicine, ED (Royal Children's Hospital), ED (PAH), Relieving Medical Superintendent (Wondai Hospital), ED (PAH), ED (Logan Hospital), ED (Mater Children's Hospital), Infectious Diseases, and Renal and Transplant medicine.
In 1992, I began registrar training in Microbiology for the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia at PAH under the supervision of Dr Graeme Nimmo. I spent three very fruitful and enjoyable years at PAH under Dr Nimmo's supervision. While there I completed both the Pathological Sciences Exam (1993) and the Part One in Microbiology (1994). My last year of training was 1995. I spent an enjoyable year at the Royal Brisbane Hospital where I was supervised by Dr Joan Faoagali and Dr Mee Len Thong. At the end of 1995 I became a Fellow of the RCPA.
I took up the position as Director of Microbiology of the Royal Darwin Hospital in February 1996. There I worked with an excellent group of scientists and technicians in my laboratory and some excellent medical staff in the hospital. I couldn't want for a better position. There is a general strong commitment from all staff to better care for Aboriginal Australians.
My special interests include public health pathology, CBRN, hospital acquired infections, antimicrobial resistance and laboratory management.
On the 13 May 1997, Dr Barrie Way left the service of the Royal Darwin Hospital and I was made Acting Director of Pathology. On the 24 July 1997, I was appointed as Director of Pathology. My hope was to lead the Pathology Department, RDH through to the 21st Century.
We're now in the 21st century and we've made a lot of progress in the Pathology Department at RDH and in the Pathology Laboratories of DHCS. Better things are yet to come.
On 20 May 2002 I took over as Acting General Manager of Royal Darwin Hospital on top of my pathology duties. This was to be an experience of a life time given I was in charge of the hospital during the Bali Bombing Evacuation Operation. I have never been so proud of a group of people. The staff of the Royal Darwin Hospital are truly are a remarkable group of people. You could not want for a better group of people to work with. On 06 January 2003 I relinquished this role to Ms Vicki Geytenbeek.
I have to say, one of the best parts of acting as GM of RDH during 2002 was working closely with Dr Len Notaras, AM. Len is a true leader, and it is a privilege to work with him and for him.
On Friday 17 October 2003 I was honoured by being made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for my role at RDH during the Bali Bombing patient evacuation, resuscitation and referral to specialist burns units [the citation read "...for service in jointly coordinating the medical assistance provided by the Royal Darwin Hospital to the victims of the Bali bombings"]. While it is a tremendous honour and I feel overwhelmed the fact is it was very much a huge team effort by all staff at the RDH who worked at an extraordinary level and they should all take the credit.
On Friday 31 August 2007, I finished working at the Royal Darwin Hospital.
From 02 October 2007 I became the Assistant Secretary for the Health Emergency Management and Biosecurity Branch in the Office of Health Protection in the Australian Government's Department of Health and Ageing. From July 2008, the branch was renamed the Health Emergency Management Branch. I am also the Incident Coordinator for the National Incident Room.
In 2008 the National Incident Room was activated for the Mumbai situation.
In 2009 the National Incident Room was activated for Victorian bushfires, the Boat Explosion off Ashmore Reef and the outbreak of Influenzavirus A H1N1v California 2009. In addition we prepared for and coordinated deployment to Samoa for the earthquake and tsunami as well as preparing for but not coordinating a resulting deployment to Sumatra for their earthquake.
In August 2010 the National Incident Room was activated for the Australian health sector response to the Pakistan Floods.
In December 2010 the National Incident Room was activated for the Suspected Irregular Entry Vessel #221 breaking up off the coast of Christmas Island.
In 2011 the National Incident Room activated for Queensland Floods, Tropical Cyclone Yasi, Christchurch Earthquake, and the Japan Earthquake/Tsunami and Nuclear Power Station situation at Fukushima Dai-Ichi.
In 2012 we activated for PIP Breast Implants.
In December 2012 I changed roles and become the specialist medical adviser in health emergency management.
Gary Lum, AM (B.Med.Sc. [Dist], M.B.,B.S., FRCPA, FACTM, FASM)
Dr Gary Lum
GPO Box 9848
CANBERRA ACT 2601
T. 61 2 6289 4656
F. 61 2 6289 1070
E. Gary.Lum AT Health.gov.au
Last updated 2014–09–30
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