Professor Priscilla Kincaid-Smith AC CBE

In 1968, Professor Priscilla Kincaid-Smith was the first person to establish a link between analgesics and kidney damage.

Honour Roll

Priscilla Kincaid-Smith was born on 30 October 1926 in Johannesburg, South Africa and educated there before attending Witwatersrand University. She then did a two-year residency at a busy hospital in Soweto. This experience of working in an impoverished black township left a deep impression on her, and later in her career she would campaign strongly for birth control in developing countries.

She completed post-graduate studies in London where she met Kenneth Fairley, an Australian who was to become her husband. In 1959, Priscilla arrived in Melbourne to take up the position of Senior Research Fellow at the Baker Institute. In London she had a more senior position, however, Australia at that time was more conservative and did not consider women as equals. From 1960-67 she became an associate with that institute.

She established her reputation when she discovered a link between readily-available analgesics (pain relivers) and kidney damage. She campaigned strongly for the restriction of certain analgesics. From 1968-69 she served on the World Health Organisation Committee on Analgesic Abuse. Priscilla was a reader at the University of Melbourne (1969-75) but was overlooked for the position of Professor of Medicine in 1972. It wasn't until 1975 that she was appointed to a full professorship.

In 1990, she became chair of the Australian Medical Association following which she became the first Australian president of the World Medical Association (1994-95) and the first woman to hold this position. She was an outspoken supporter of birth control as a basic right for women. She also served as a commissioner of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (1987-90). Priscilla published numerous journal articles as well as books including Renal Infection and Renal Scarring (1971) and The Kidney (1974). She was honoured with a CBE in 1975.