In memory of Sister Regis Mary Dunne RSM

Friday, 24 April 2020

In memory of Sister Regis Mary Dunne RSM
Sister Regis Mary Dunne RSM was born in Toowoomba and educated by the Sisters of Mercy at St Saviours Primary School, Toowoomba and at All Hallows, Brisbane.
 
After leaving school, Sr Regis trained and worked as a teacher, teaching at both the schools she had attended and specialising in the subjects of home science, chemistry, physiology and religion.
 
In 1947/48 she entered the Sisters of Mercy as a novitiate at Nudgee and in 1949 was appointed to the Mater Public Hospital laboratory, undertaking training as a Medical Laboratory Scientist through part-time study at QUT whilst working full time as a trainee biochemist. She received her Diploma from the Association of Medical Laboratory Technologists in 1953.
 
After qualifying, Sr Regis worked in Haematology and the Blood Bank where she pioneered the development of a procedure for chromosome analysis. This led to the establishment of the first cytogenetics diagnostic service and was the only such service from 1960 to 1968. resulting in Sr Regis being asked to lecture the medical students at The University of Queensland in microbiology and cytogenetics.
 
In conjunction with Dr Neville Anderson, Sr Regis also established the first genetic counselling clinic in 1961 to assist clinicians, patients and families to deal with the complexities of genetic diagnosis. During the 1960s and 1970s Sr Regis published a number of research papers on mycology and genetics.  
 
Ethics was another of Sr Regis’s passions and in 1981 the Queensland Bioethics Centre was established by Archbishop Francis Rush DD with Sr Regis as Director. The premises were set up at Jerome House at 18 Clarence Street enabling a large library of bioethical texts and journals which was utilised by professionals, organisations and members of the public.  
 
As a result of her extensive knowledge on the subject, Sr Regis sat on numerous national, state and local ethics committees and advisory boards including: Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Discovery of Genes for Common Human Diseases, numerous NHMRC committees, Queensland Health Ethics Advisory Council, QIMR, Mater Research, National Bioethics Consultative Committee, Ministerial Committee of Review of Institutional Ethics Committees. She also sat on a number of hospital and university ethics committees: Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital, Holy Spirit, Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University, The University of Queensland, Queensland Emergency Services, and the Catholic Bishops Medico-Moral Committee, amongst others.
 
Throughout her career, Sr Regis received many awards for her pioneering work.  She was made an Honorary Fellow of the Human Genetic Society of Australasia, a Fellow of Queensland Institute of Medical Research and received an Australia Day Achievement medallion awarded by Queensland Health for outstanding service. In 2007 she received an Order of Australia for service to medicine, particularly through promotion and support of bioethics in medical research and as a researcher in the field of genetics. In the same year she also received an NHMRC award for excellence in health and medical research.  
 
She worked in Mater Pathology for over 30 years and her inspiration and teachings assisted many of the Mater Pathology staff, past and present in their love of science and patient care.  
 
Sr Regis Mary Dunne was an outstanding Australian who made innumerable contributions to medical research and clinical practice through her commitment as a great leader, teacher and person.
 
May her soul rest in eternal peace.
 

Tags: Mission, Sisters of Mercy