49 Mathoura Road: Geoffrey Kaye’s Center of Excellence for the Australian Society of Anaesthetists

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Geoffrey Kaye, M.B.B.S. (1903 to 1986), was a prominent Australian anesthetist, researcher, and educator who envisioned that anesthesia practice in Australia would be comparable to European and American anesthesia practice during the 1940s and 1950s. Kaye’s close relationship with Francis Hoeffer McMechan, M.D., F.I.C.A. (1879 to 1939), which began when Kaye left a favorable impression on McMechan at a meeting of the Australasian Medical Congress in 1929, eventually led Kaye to establish an educational center for the Australian Society of Anaesthetists at 49 Mathoura Road, Toorak, Melbourne, Australia, in 1951. The center served as the “Scientific Headquarters” and the Australian Society of Anaesthetists’ official headquarters from 1951 to 1955. Although anesthesia’s recognition as a specialty was at the heart of the center, Kaye hoped that this “experiment in medical education”—equipped with a library, museum, laboratory, workshop, darkroom, and meeting space—would “bring anaesthetists of all lands together” in Australia. The lack of member participation in Kaye’s center, however, led Kaye to dissolve the center by 1955. Previous research has documented the history of Kaye’s center from correspondence between Kaye and influential American anesthesiologist Paul M. Wood, M.D. (1894 to 1953), from 1939 to 1955. Through letters Kaye sent to American anesthesiologist Paul M. Wood, M.D. (1894 to 1963), the authors see Kaye’s detailed plans, design, and intent for the center at 49 Mathoura Road. Comparisons of Kaye’s letters to Wood during the 1950s with his letters to Gwenifer Wilson, M.D., M.B.B.S. (1916 to 1988), during the 1980s illustrate a change in Kaye’s perceptions regarding the failure of the center.

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