Australian Biography: Donald Metcalf


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2008, 26 Minutes

Professor Donald Metcalf is internationally renowned for his pioneering medical research on the control of blood cell formation, which has revolutionised the understanding of many diseases of blood cells and their treatment. This fundamental research has been used in the treatment of millions of cancer patients around the world.

Born in 1929 in Mittagong NSW, Donald and his teams of researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne made their scientific breakthrough in the 1960s when they began the task of isolating and purifying colony stimulating factors (CSFs). Donald and his colleagues researched for over 20 years to show that the CSFs, when injected into animals, stimulated the formation and activity of white blood cells.

After successful testing on humans, the treatment was accepted worldwide and has helped millions of cancer patients in accelerating the regrowth of blood cells following treatment and bone marrow transplants, and for increasing resistance to infections.

In this interview, Donald discusses his early life in country schools, his attraction to research, the competitiveness in trying to be the first to make a discovery, the exacting work of spending years at a microscope and writing some 680 scientific papers, why he returned to work the day after officially retiring and the reasons he continues to strive for new discoveries.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

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NB The Australian Biography series (1-11) are only available for sale within the territories of Australia and New Zealand.


Producer/Director: Rod Freedman

Writer/Interviewer: Robin Hughes

Year: 2008

Running Time: 26 Minutes

Classification: Exempt from classification

Curriculum Links: general science, Biology, Philosophy of Science, History of Science, Medicine, Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, English, Personal Development and Career Education.


Australian Biography: Priscilla Kincaid-Smith

SKU 200600505
Brand Film Australia

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