Doctor receives doctorate
IT'S not every day a doctor becomes a doctor, but that's what the head of the North Coast Cancer Institute, Professor Michael McKay has just achieved.
Prof McKay graduated this month with a Doctorate of Medicine from the University of NSW achieving the highest degree awarded at the ceremony, and the second highest in academia, second only to a Doctorate of Letters.
"His thesis was titled 'Ionising Radiation Sensitivity in Mammals'.
Northern NSW Local Health District Chief Executive, Chris Crawford, acknowledged the significant achievement saying it was very pleasing to see a clinician of such high standing providing Lismore's radiotherapy services.
"The degree is the highest obtainable in medicine," he said.
Prof McKay is also a professor of radiation oncology at the University of Sydney, and the North Coast Cancer Institute's Director of Research in radiation oncology and senior consultant radiation oncologist.
He joined the North Coast Cancer Institute in Lismore in February 2011, arriving with an impressive career background having held the position of Professor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Medicine at the Australian National University and The Canberra Hospital.
His special interests are in the areas of breast cancer, central nervous system cancer and palliation.
"At present, radiotherapy provides around one third of cancer cures, secondary to surgery and more than drug therapy," Prof McKay said.
"One of the main themes of the thesis was the study of rare cancer patients who have shown an unexpectedly severe reaction to radiotherapy in their normal tissues."
Prof McKay said by focusing on rare cancer patients, researchers have been able to better individualise treatment, dramatically reduce the trauma for mainstream patients susceptible to side-effects, and "dose escalate" those with a greater tolerance resulting in greater treatment success.