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Surgery - Prof David Watters


My previous appointments include Professor of Surgery at the University of Melbourne (2000-2010), Professor of Surgery at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby (1992-2000), a year as visiting lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1991), senior lecturer at the University of Zambia (1985-1990), and senior registrar at the King Edward VIII and McCord Zulu hospitals in Durban, South Africa (1982-1984). In 2007, I was elected as a Councillor of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and became Chairman of the International Committee. In 2008, I was elected by Council as Chair of External Affairs for the RACS. In 2012, I was elected Chair of the Professional Development and Standards Board.

Since I arrived in Australia in 2000, I have continued to support Papua New Guinea’s department of surgery in terms of teaching, research and examining. I was RACS Director for the Pacific Islands Project (2002-2012) and the Papua New Guinea Tertiary Health Services Projects (2002-2010) and was an external examiner in Surgery at the Fiji School of Medicine from 1999-2001 and 2009-2011. I also, for short periods, have been resident surgeon in Dili, East Timor. I was appointed the President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 2015.  In June 2018 in recognition of significant service to Medicine and Medical Education and Leadership Roles with Professional Organisations I was awarded the Queen’s Birthday Honours AM and became a Life Member of the Medical Society of Papua New Guinea in 2017. In August 2016 Deakin University appointed me the title of Alfred Deakin Professor. I was also appointed an Honorary Member of the Asian Surgical Association in 2015 and in recognition of my contribution to surgery and surgical training in Papua New Guinea I was awarded the OBE in 2012, and the Rotary's Paul Harris Fellowship in the year 2000.

Research Focus

I have given over 200 conference presentations, including some keynote and prestigious lectures; these include twice being Congress visitor for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting, in rural (1996) and in general/rural surgery (2004). I am one of the original authors of the RACS guide to surgical audit and peer review, now in its third edition. I have also significantly contributed to the RACS guide to surgical competence and performance (June 2008) and was Chair of the Performance Assessment Steering Committee which was responsible for the second edition of the guide (October 2011). In recent years, I have taken an interest in the delivery of emergency surgery, leading a pilot project in Geelong. I am also the founding faculty member of the Management of Surgical Emergencies (MOSES) course under the auspices of General Surgeons Australia (GSA).

I wrote the book Stitches in Time that covers the history of surgery in Papua New Guinea (1800-2000) and am an active member of the RACS section of Surgical History. I have authored and edited five textbooks relating to surgical practice in the tropics and have over 120 peer reviewed publications and 6 books including Stitches in Time - Two centuries of Surgery in Papua New Guinea (Xlibris, 2012), the ANZAC Surgeons of Gallipoli (RACS, 2015) and the second edition of Neurosurgery in the Tropics (Xlibris, 2020) and book chapters covering a wide range of subjects such as surgical training, surgical audit, trauma, peritonitis, critical care, gastrointestinal disorders, colorectal surgery, tropical diseases and HIV infection. I am an Academic Surgeon with special interests in endocrine, emergency and colorectal surgery. 

Awards & AchievementsDavid Watters about me

  • 2018, Barwon Health Quality Award: Living Our Values, for outstanding achievement and dedication to Barwon Health
  • 2018, Barwon Health Quality Awards: Certificate of Achievement, The Department of Surgery Research Website 4,000 site visit milestone
  • 2018, Member of the Order of Australia (AM), for significant service to surgery and professional associations
  • 2017, Life Member of the Papua New Guinea Medical Society
  • 2017, Member of the Court of Honour, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • 2016, Alfred Deakin Professor of Surgery, Deakin University
  • 2012, Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), for service to the University of Papua New Guinea Medical School and Health, particularly in specialist surgery
  • 2010, Pacific Islands Surgeons Association Service Award, for the development of surgical services and workforce in the Pacific region
  • 2000, Paul Harris Fellowship (Rotary), for service to ROMAC and sick children in Papua New Guinea

Feature Publications

  • Meara JG , Leather AJM, Hagander L, Alkire BC, Alonso N, Ameh EA, Bickler SW, Conteh L, Dare AJ, Davies J, Mérisier ED, El-Halabi S, Farmer PE, Gawande A, Gillies R, Greenberg SLM, Grimes CE, Gruen RL, Ismail EA, Kamara TB, Lavy C, Lundeg G, Mkandawire NC, Raykar NP, Riesel JN, Rodas E, Rose J, Roy N, Shrime MG, Sullivan R, Verguet S, Watters D, Weiser TG, Wilson IH, Yamey G, Yip W. The Lancet Commissions Global Surgery 2030: evidence and solutions for achieving health, welfare, and economic development. The Lancet. 2015 Aug; 386(9993):569-624.
  • Sullivan R, Alatise O, Anderson BO, Audisio R, Autier P, Aggarwal A, Balch C, Brennan MF, Dare A, D’Cruz A, Thomas R, Tsunoda AT, van de Velde C, Veronesi U, Vijaykumar DK, Watters D, Wang S, Wu Y, Zeiton M, Purushotham A. Global cancer surgery: Delivering safe, affordable, and timely cancer surgery. The Lancet Oncology. 2015; 16(11): 1193-1224.
  • Moore EM, Mander AG, Ames D, Kotowicz MS, Carne RP, Brodaty H, Woodward M, Boundy K, Ellis KA, Bush AI, Faux NG, Martins R, Szoeke C, Rowe C, Watters DA. Increased Risk of Cognitive Impairment in Patients With Diabetes Is Associated With Metformin. Diabetes Care. 2013 Sept;36(10):2981-2987. doi: 10.2337/dc13-0229.
  • Moore E, Mander A, Ames D, Carne R, Sanders K, Watters D. Cognitive impairment and vitamin B12: a review. International Psychogeriatrics. 2012 Jan;24(4):541-556. doi: 0.1017/S1041610211002511.
  • Watters DA, Hollands MJ, Gruen RL, Maoate K, Perndt H, McDougall RJ, Morriss WW, Tangi V, Casey KM, McQueen KA. Perioperative Mortality Rate (POMR): A Global Indicator of Access to Safe Surgery and Anaesthesia. World Journal of Surgery. 2015 May;39(4):856–864.

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Last Modified: Thursday, 15 October 2020

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Prof David Watters


Alfred Deakin Professor of Surgery at Deakin University and Director of Surgery at University Hospital Geelong, Barwon Health, Surgery

[email protected]