Dr Russell Corlett

Dr Corlett completed Form 12 at Carey in 1960 and graduated in medicine from Monash University in 1966.  He became a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons in 1973 and completed his plastic surgery training in Bristol, UK in 1976.

There are three main aspects to Dr Corlett’s work that impressed the Carey Medal Committee:  his pioneering work in micro and reconstructive surgery; his contributions to medical research and his dedication to providing free life-changing reconstructive surgery for people with congenital and burn-related disabilities in Fiji, Samoa, Kiribat, Tuvalu, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Dr Corlett currently holds positions as Consulting Plastic Surgeon at the Royal Melbourne Hospital; Senior Fellow at the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne; Director of the Taylor Lab Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Research Unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital; Presiding Member of Medical Panels, Victoria; Medical Advisory to the Avant Medical Indemnity Group; and is Country Co-ordinator in Bangladesh for the not-for-profit, Interplast.  Many of these are voluntary positions for which Dr Corlett seeks no accolades.

As a surgeon, Dr Corlett has developed revolutionary techniques in micro and reconstructive surgery that have meant that many patients can live life free from crutches or a wheelchair:  people are walking as a result of his work.

Dr Corlett has presented papers at many international medical conferences and is published extensively.  He has also supervised more than 120 researchers from Australia and overseas, many at the Department of Anatomy at the University of Melbourne.

Sharing his expertise with doctors and patients in the developing world has been a significant part of Dr Corlett’s medical career.  Since 1985 he has worked as a volunteer with the international not-for-profit Interplast, which organisation works to provide free, life-changing surgery for people in developing countries. Dr Corlett has led surgical teams, lectured and mentored overseas medical staff in ten different countries.

The legacy of war and extreme poverty in Bangladesh has left many long-term burns victims.  With the treatment of burns as Dr Corlett’s expertise, he has visited the country on many occasions and played a key role in the Partner Harmonisation Project, helping to co-ordinate the management of burns between various surgical departments.  He has played a crucial role in establishing Bangladesh’s first microsurgical service:  teaching surgeons, helping procure the necessary equipment and finding the right facilities.  This has all been done at his own expense.

Dr Corlett is described by his friends and colleagues as a man of great intellect, unwavering integrity, quiet determination and genuine humility.  He has undertaken his work – not for wealth, not for fame, not for accolades – but simply to improve the lives of others.

Michael Norbury,
Chairman, Carey Medal
Committee 2014.