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The following appeared in the

APSR Newsletter

Vol. 10, No. 1, 2001

In this issue

Ann Janet Woolcock

Science, Leadership and APSR

Yoshinosuke Fukuchi
Secretary General, APSR

The world of respirology has lost a star and one of its great leaders.

Professor Ann Janet Woolcock died of breast cancer on February 17, 2001 after a 15-year battle. She was 64 years old, too young in this era of longevity. I was shocked to learn for the first time that she had been fighting cancer, when she wrote me in November 2000. Earlier that year, she had promised to come to Japan in April 2001 to deliver a special lecture at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Japanese Respiratory Society. In this last letter, she disclosed that she was in the hospital for chemotherapy and that her scheduled lecture at the JRS meeting became impossible due to recurrence of the cancer. I could hardly believe that she was so ill because she had been as active as ever, all through her 1998-2000 Presidency of the APSR, until the Florence Congress in September. She was most successful as president for the Frieze Meeting due to her international reputation and unsurpassed leadership in promoting APSR's presence.

We owe so much to her for the fundamental structure and philosophy of the APSR since its inception. I met her in 1984 at Meguro station in Tokyo with Professor Kira and we discussed the feasibility of establishing a new academic organization within the Asian Pacific region for promoting respiratory sciences. She played a major role from that time as a founding member of the steering committee of the APSR with a sincere wish to nurture good respiratory science within the APSR. Professor Woolcock was a firm believer in the excellence of science and has always tried to fulfil the mission of encouraging young physicians to follow similar thought. I enjoyed every one of her well-prepared and clear lectures at so many meetings. She was a great clinical scientist and a supreme teacher; a combination very rarely found in a single figure.

I was very fortunate to be a research fellow at the Meakins Christie Laboratories of McGill University with Professor Peter T. Macklem. Ann was also a fellow student of Peter's before my period (see the photograph taken together at the ATS Meeting in Seattle when Ann was awarded the presidential citation). With such a devotion to respiratory science and outstanding leadership, she was always a great role model for me to follow since I first met her in 1976 in Montreal. She made major contributions to advance our understanding of bronchial asthma and established individualized treatment plans for cases that were difficult to manage.

On a personal level, many times her kind support and encouragement through difficulties I faced during a long academic career was truly appreciated. My memory of Ann is associated with three scenes: The first, in 1972, at the 10th anniversary of the MC Labs in Montreal, Ann and I were interviewed by the local radio station because we had come the longest distance to attend the event. Secondly, in 1987 in Tofino in Vancouver Island at the IUPS meeting, there was a sudden power failure with total black out during Ann's talk. She completed her lecture by writing on the black board with white chalk in the sunlight from the opened window. Such extraordinary and unforgettable memories were evidence of her ingenious adaptability to an emergency. Thirdly, in 2000 in Florence, she gave a special Congress reception address at the World Lung Health Meeting to promote the APSR. Retrospectively she should not have been on stage to give her scheduled presidential speech because of her very bad condition due to the cancer. She did not utter a word of excuse. Instead she took up the responsibility and did it all! What courage and strength of will! These anecdotes, though short, will remain in my memory as long as I am on earth.

Ann, I owe you so much and many of us owe you so much. The memory of your wishes and devotion will remain without fading in the history of the APSR.


Christine Jenkins
Sydney Morning Herald

Respiratory medicine lost one of its greats on Saturday 17th February, when Professor Ann Woolcock died from breast cancer, aged 63. To the very last days of her life, Ann pursued the goals of her life with the energy and dedication which had been the hallmark of her personality and professional career. She was a provocative and original thinker whose life in science and academic medicine left an unrivalled legacy which will continue to inspire respiratory scientists and clinicians. Her ability to marry clinical medicine and research was exceptional and led naturally to increasing demands on her time as a speaker and contributor to scientific and clinical meetings nationally and internationally. Despite her frantic schedule, she never gave up clinical medicine and she was still doing her outpatients clinics in the last month of her life, farewelling some of the patients she had looked after for nearly 30 years. She firmly held the view that she could only ask the right questions in her research, if she continued to be involved in clinical medicine. She would often come to her clinic straight off an early morning plane.

Ann Woolcock was born in Reynella, SA, the eldest of four children, and completed her University education at the University of Adelaide. She began her distinguished career in research at Sydney University after her residency in Adelaide and Broken Hill. While completing her Doctor of Medicine degree she set up a Respiratory Laboratory in the Page Chest Pavilion at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, which was a natural evolution of her research, bringing science to clinical respiratory medicine. Ann's work in respiratory physiology completely revised the prevailing understanding of mechanisms and consequences of acute asthma. In 1968 she married Ruthven Blackburn, Professor of Medicine, Sydney University. She then completed physician training and her sons Simon and Angus were born.

Although she undertook further highly influential work on the physiology of airway obstruction in acute asthma, Ann's research interests broadened, epidemiology becoming a more demanding interest. Her early studies of allergy and asthma in the New Guinea Highlands were followed by studies in schoolchildren in Sydney and rural NSW. These formed the basis of ongoing research looking at the relationships between the development of sensitivity to allergens, airway responsiveness and the development and severity of clinical asthma in children. She became a driving force in asthma epidemiology and this work brought great her international distinction and respect. It also emphasised the relevance of population health studies to the practice of clinical medicine and she never lost an opportunity to make population health relevant to the individual.

Many asthma epidemiology projects around Australia were conceived by Ann and flourished under her leadership. In 1977 she was appointed Head of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and in 1984 she was given a personal chair as Professor of Respiratory Medicine, University of Sydney. This was at a time when women had negligible representation in the upper echelons of tertiary teaching, research and administration, and only 3% of all professors in Australian Universities were women. In 1992, she was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the first practising female clinician to earn this distinction.

Ann was committed to promoting respiratory health in the Asia-Pacific region, and was active on many national and international scientific and public health committees. From this vantage point she was able to see the big picture and constantly exhorted others to do the same. She initiated Asthma Research Days in Sydney, when she worked hard to bring people together in research, to discuss their ideas, to encourage collaboration and to share scientific skills. On these days the white board was covered with research ideas and she engaged people in spirited debate over important clinical and research questions. She fostered the research and careers of many Ph.D. students she supervised, among whom are Stephen Leeder, now Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Sydney University and Professors Iven Young and Norbert Berend. She was particularly supportive of women in science and medicine. She established the Institute of Respiratory Medicine at RPAH with a vision for co-operative, integrated research and she was dedicated to helping people work together in a team to achieve common research goals. Her presence could be daunting, as tact was not a strong point and she could not hide her exasperation if an argument was poorly supported or work was half hearted. Consistent with this, she gave support and respect to all those who applied themselves with diligence and enthusiasm. She cared greatly for the people in her department and research groups, and was always keen to bring people together to party and celebrate important events.

Ann was acknowledged as one of the world's leading experts in asthma. Characteristic of her addresses to widely varying audiences was both the promotion of scientific knowledge and a bold questioning of conventional wisdom. There was a substantial element of the iconoclast in her and she was never afraid of sticking her neck out. She had a reputation, well earned, for challenging the party line and for provoking others to think beyond accepted truths.

Ann Woolcock was the recipient of many distinguished awards in Australia and overseas and was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1989. She probably underestimated the affection so many held for her, the wealth of knowledge she left with us, and the very high regard in which she was held. Her dedication and advocacy, her feisty spirit and vision are unforgettable. Her extended fraternity in medicine extend their deep sympathy to her family, especially her husband Ruthven and her sons Simon and Angus.

A memorial ceremony will be held to celebrate the life of Professor Ann Woolcock in the Great Hall, Sydney University at 5pm on 13th March 2001. Friends, patients and colleagues of Ann are all invited.

Asthma, APSR and Courage

Wan C. Tan
National University of Singapore

It has been over 3 months since the death of Ann Woolcock on the 17th February 2001 after a long battle with cancer. In life as in death, she exemplified the indomitable spirit. I have known Ann professionally for over 20 years and as a friend and close colleague for the last 14 years. My first impression of Ann in the early 80s was that of a formidable lady who would take on, in heated debate, my then mentor and supervisor, the equally formidable D.C. Flenley, Professor of Respiratory Medicine in Edinburgh. As a respiratory fellow in training, I was filled with awe and admiration for her exciting concepts and her intrepid and at times colourful delivery at international respiratory society meetings.

In recent years I had the pleasure of working closely with Ann Woolcock on a number of scientific and societal committees: in 1989 as a member of the chronic respiratory diseases expert panel of the Western Pacific region of the World Health Organization in Manila; in 1993 when the 3rd Congress of the Asia Pacific Society of Respirology was held in Singapore; in the expert panel for the global initiative for asthma (GINA) guidelines. At all times Ann showed an unshakable commitment to the job in hand, and inspired critical thinking.

Ann could be intimidating and outspoken. Those of us who are fortunate to have known her as a friend and colleague have experienced her sterling qualities that shone through a formidable front. She was a born leader, a 'mover and a shaker', a provocative and creative thinker, forever challenging prevailing concepts and ways of doing things. There was never a dull moment with Ann around. She enjoyed life and was game to try new experiences and new food, to the extent of becoming a self-professed connoisseur of the challenging pungent tropical fruit called durian.

The contributions that Ann made to the scientific community are numerous. Our understanding of the epidemiology and natural history of bronchial hyper responsiveness in asthma, the use of peak flow variability in asthma, asthma management plans for patient care, and the efficacy of combined long acting beta2 agonist and inhaled corticosteroid for better control of asthma are among her many achievements which have a direct impact on the delivery of asthma care.

On a personal level, I was struck by her personal courage and inner strength in the way she dealt with her long illness. Illness is particularly difficult for a doctor who has acquired by necessity, for the purpose of equanimity in treating diseases, a certain detachment and perhaps denial towards illness. In our subconscience, we feel that illness is something that happens to our patients and not to doctors. When a serious illness occurs to us it could be devastating as we 'know too much'. Our courage may fail us and we may be thrown into intense despair. Ann had shown us 'how to do it well' as she grappled with her illness with dignity and courage for 13 years. Psychologists have uniformly proclaimed that courage is not the absence of despair; rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair. How very aptly it has described the manner in which Ann had conducted her life and work for all those years that she confronted her illness.

I saw Ann three weeks before her death. She attended the GINA executive committee on the 26-27 January 2001 in Paris, having travelled all the way from Australia. Her colleagues at home were extremely concerned for her, but they could not stop her from going. With dogged determination, she soldiered on from Paris to Italy to deliver two final talks on asthma. The GINA committee members were stunned by her determination despite her extreme frailty at the final stages of her illness. Many of us doubted we could have stood up to such intense public scrutiny were we in her shoes. I understood her though, she wanted to keep doing the things that had given her such satisfaction and pleasure in her life and to be able to say farewell to friends and colleagues by her physical presence.

Ann will always remain in our thoughts, and be immediately and highly cited in all topics relating to Asthma, APSR and Courage.

Ann Janet Woolcock

J. Patrick K. Barron
Tokyo Medical College

We have lost a dear and great colleague. Professor Ann Woolcock was one of the true leaders in the field of respiratory medicine, in not only Australia, not only Asia but also the world. She worked very hard to improve education in her field throughout the world. I first met Ann Woolcock at the initial meeting in 1984 to decide whether there was a need for an Asian Respiratory Society. Many of the members who took part in that meeting, at present in the Executive of the APSR, a subsequent meeting in 1985 was held in which it was decided that there would be a need for further work to develop an Asian society. What people say at meetings often slips by and is never recorded. But I felt that these meetings, given the tremendous enthusiasm of Dr Woolcock and other colleagues, required full recording for propriety and I took it upon myself to do a word by word per datum transcription of all the discussions as well a synopsis for reference for all the participants. What I remember when doing that was of the extreme enthusiasm, the vibrant commitment of Dr Woolcock. She was dedicated not only to education in her field but to international collaboration and her enthusiasm provided a large part of the chemistry of that group.

She was not out to form a small clique of her own, she wanted a society that could work to help to improve respiratory health on a worldwide basis and as such her approach was not exclusive but inclusive. I personally feel that the World Conference on Lung Health in the year 2000 in Florence, Italy was a monument to her commitment to this concept. I think that the APSR owes it to Dr Woolcock as well as to her other colleagues who founded the APSR, to help to continue to promote not only the APSR but also the concept of a world health conference which will meet at certain intervals from now on, in order to promote research, education and results in health care for the entire world. I am sure that Dr Woolcock will be proud of such a legacy. May she rest in peace.

Report presented at the Executive Meeting

Teresita S. de Guia
Chairperson of the Membership Committee
Date: 17:00-19:30, 02 April 2001
Place: Shinagawa Prince Hotel, Tokyo, Japan

Committee Members:

Dr. T. S. de Guia - Chair
Dr. Hadiarto Mangunnegoro (Indonesia)
Dr. Suchai Charoenratanakul (Thailand)
Dr. W. K. Lam (For Dr. Lai of Hong Kong)

The Committee met last 29 August, 2000 in Florence, Italy.

Objective - How to increase the membership of the APSR

Proposals from the Membership Committee Meeting in Florence, Italy August 2000

Qualifications of Members:

  • Active member: MD or PhD or any equivalent working actively in the field of respirology, adult or pediatric. This is to include other subspecialties closely allied with respiratory medicine, Immunologists (Allergologists), Thoracic Surgeons, Radiologists, Nuclear Medicine (?)
  • Associate members: Respiratory Therapist

Activities to augment membership:

  • Federation of National Societies Ex:
    1. ASEAN Federation of Cardiology
    2. Asian Vascular Society
  • An application form should be included in the kits of all attendees during APSR Congress with fliers to list the advantages of being a member:
    • Receipt of Respirology journal
    • Publication of their studies in the Respirology journal (higher acceptance)
    • Attendance to APSR Congress at discounted rate
    • Fellowship/camaraderie among peers in the region - increasing interaction
    • Certificate of Membership as APSR Member
  • Maintenance of current members:
    • A column or corner for "Letters from APSR members" in the Newsletter
    • Mention country coordinators in all correspondence (see listing inclusion)
    • A general business meeting of all members be held specially during congresses so members can get acquainted with the Executive Committee and Officers of APSR
    • Report of Officers to the body on the status of the Society
    • Open forum by members
  • The following proposals were endorsed during the ensuing discussion:
    • The inclusion of other subspecialties allied with respiratory medicine including associate membership for respiratory therapists. The respiratory therapist may have a reduced membership fee. However, for this the By-laws of the Society may have to be altered.
    • The Pediatric Respiratory group, a budding organization, should be actively recruited.
    • Certificate of Membership was also commented upon as being beneficial to some members in some countries
    • The Japanese Respiratory Society and APSR will establish a discounted membership rate

Membership Committee and Coordinators:

Dr T. S. de Guia (Chairperson)
Dr. W-C Luo (China)
Dr. Mangunnegoro Hadiarto (Indonesia)
Dr. Y. S. Shim (Korea)
Dr. Aziah Mahayiddin (Malaysia)
Dr. Suchai Charoenratanakul (Thailand)
Dr. J. Kolbe (Australia & N.Z.)
Dr. C. K. W. Lai (Hong Kong)
Dr. K. Ohta (Japan)
Dr. S-K Kim (Korea)
Dr. C. Roa (Philippines)
Dr. C. Chee (Singapore)
Dr. S-H Kuo (Taiwan)
Dr. P. Youngchaiyud (Thailand)

41st JRS Annual Meeting/6th APSR Workshop

The very successful 41st Annual Meeting of the Japanese Respiratory Society and the 6th APSR Workshop 2001 ran from 4th to 6th April 2001 at the Tokyo International Forum in Japan. According to JRS records 4,411 people participated. There was a new JRS International Program and speakers from the ATS, ERS and the APSR gave lectures. From the APSR, Drs. J.P. Seale, W.K. Lam, Y.S. Shim, W.C. Tan, Suchai Charoenratanakul and N.S. Zhong were invited as speakers. At the APSR Workshop, lectures and poster sessions were integrated into the International Program, to which 141 abstracts were submitted (55 from outside Japan). Also, the APSR Executive members were asked to serve as facilitators of each poster session.

There were two important meetings concerning the APSR. One was the Executive Meeting, which was held on 2nd April, 2001. The other was the Leadership Meeting with JRS/APSR/ATS/ERS, which was held on 5th April.

The Executive Meeting

Attendees were: Drs. N. Berend, J.P. Seale and P.J. Thompson (Australia), Dr. T. de Guia (Philippines), Dr. M. Hadiarto (Indonesia), Drs. W.D. Kim and Y.S. Shim (Korea), Dr. W.K. Lam (Hong Kong), Dr. K.T. Luh (Taiwan), Dr. W.C. Tan (Singapore), Dr. N.S. Zhong (China) and Drs. S. Kira, Y. Fukuchi, T. Horie, Prof. P. Barron and Mrs. H. Sato Cochrane (Japan).

The two and one-half hours allowed for the Meeting was too short to cover everything in detail.

However, we are pleased to confirm that the 8th APSR Congress in 2003 will be held in Malaysia, and the 9th Congress in 2004 will be held in Hong Kong.


A Leadership Meeting with JRS/APSR/ATS/ERS started with a welcoming message by Dr Fukuchi, which was followed by introductions by each participant and the Presidents of each Society. The discussion covered the International Program of the JRS in relation to other International Societies, comments and future commitments, and plans for the next World Congress on Lung Health. As this was the first Leadership Meeting, it could be said this was a memorable first step.

H. Sato Cochrane
APSR Secretariat

7th Congress of the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology

October 24-27, 2002

The 2nd Student Activity Center, National Taiwan University Taipei, Taiwan

Congress President:
Kwen-Tay Luh, M.D.

Taiwan Society of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Taiwan Society of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Dept of Laboratory Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, No.7 Chung-Shan South Road, Taipei

Tel: 886-2-23123456 ext. 5354
Fax: 886-2-23936237

Notice from the Secretariat

Bids invited for the Congress in 2005 and 2006!
We would like to invite you to present your case to host the APSR Congress in 2005 and 2006. Bids will be considered at the Executive Meeting in October, 2002 in Taipei. You will be requested to present a plan, venue and your country's Thoracic Society's plans for the arrangements and infrastructure of the (e.g. Local Organizing Committee, etc.). If you have any questions, please contact the Secretariat in Tokyo.

Please send your manuscripts to: Dr. Philip J. Thompson
C/o Asthma and Allergy Research Institute
Ground Floor, E Block
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital
Verdun Street
Nedlands, Western Australia, 6009
Tel: 61-8-9346-3198 Fax: 61-8-9346-4159
Email: respirol@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

We welcome statements, notices and other information from your country's Thoracic Society (e.g. Annual Meeting, etc.) to be printed in the Newsletter to encourage more vigorous exchange of scientific accomplishments in respirology within the APSR region.

A Website of the APSR is now online. Please see http://www.apsresp.org

Yoshinosuke Fukuchi, M.D.
Secretary General, APSR