Major General Professor John Pearn AO RFD


Professor John Pearn is the senior paediatrician at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. He has served as a senior clinician, teacher and researcher for five decades, within the Children’s Hospitals of Queensland. He is the author of some 50 books and 700 papers in the refereed literature, in themes encompassing clinical medicine, medical genetics, experimental pathology, military medicine and medical and dental history. In a parallel career in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps, he served on operational service in Papua New Guinea (1966), Vietnam (1970) and in Rwanda (1994-95).As Major General John Pearn he was appointed Surgeon General in the Australian Defence Force; and in this role served in command of the Medical, Dental and Nursing branches of the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force.

Professor Pearn has enjoyed a special association with the profession of dentistry. His higher Doctorate of Medicine (Univ Qld 1969) was awarded for his experimental studies of the causes and embryogenesis of mammalian cleft palate. In 1967 he discovered a new mammalian cleft palate teratogen, indospicine, which is a site-specific uranoschitic amino acid. Its discovery led to the protection of Australian animal husbandry from a potentially devastating imported pasture species. For these advances, he was awarded the foundation Florey Fellowship of The Royal Society. In 1972-1973 he was the External Lecturer in Dental Genetics at the Eastman Dental College in London; and in 1974, established the Genetic Clinics at the Royal Children’s Hospital and at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Brisbane. He has published in the domain of Australian dental history. He was awarded the Award of Merit of the Australian Dental Association (Queensland) in 2000 for his services to the dental profession; and in 2007 was created an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Dentistry International.