Donald Metcalf

Donald Metcalf AC FRS[3] FAA (26 February 1929 – 15 December 2014) was an Australian medical researcher who spent most of his career at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne. In 1954 he received the Carden Fellowship from the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria; while he officially retired in 1996, he continued working and held his fellowship until his retirement in December 2014.[2][4][5][6]

Donald Metcalf
Born26 February 1929
Died15 December 2014(2014-12-15) (aged 85)[1][2]
Melbourne, Australia
Known fordiscovering the colony stimulating factors
Scientific career
InstitutionsWalter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Education, research and career

Metcalf studied medicine at the University of Sydney, and had his first experience of medical research in the laboratory of Professor Patrick de Burgh. In 1954 Metcalf was awarded a Carden Fellowship from the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. There he initially studied virology and leukemia, later transitioning to hematology.[7]

Metcalf's pioneering research revealed the control of blood cell formation and the role of hematopoietic cytokines. In the 1960s he developed techniques to culture blood cells, which led to the discovery of colony-stimulating factors (CSFs), including macrophage colony-stimulating factor, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor. CSFs are cytokines that control white blood cell formation and are responsible for resistance to infection. CSFs are now widely used to boost the immune system for patients receiving chemotherapy, and to mobilise blood stem cells for transplants.

Awards and honours

In the Australia Day Honours of 1976, he was named an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).[8] In the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1993, he was promoted to Companion of the Order (AC).[9]

Metcalf has been awarded many international prizes including

In Australia Metcalf has received the 1985 James Cook Medal, the 2000 Victoria Prize, the 2001 Prime Minister's Prize for Science and the Centenary Medal.[10]

Personal life

Metcalf has four daughters and six grandchildren. He lived in Melbourne with his wife, Josephine, and died on 15 December 2014 following pancreatic cancer. he was born on the 26 February 1926.>Douglas Hilton, Warren Alexander and Nicos Nicola. "A tribute to Professor Donald Metcalf ", Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, 15 December 2014.</ref>

His autobiography Summon up the Blood: In dogged pursuit of the blood cell regulators was published in 2000.[5]


  1. Hilton, Doug (2015). "Donald Metcalf (1929-2014) Discoverer of hormones that regulate blood-cell proliferation". Nature. 517 (7536): 554. doi:10.1038/517554a. PMID 25631437.
  2. Nicola, Nicos A. (2016). "Donald Metcalf AC. 26 February 1929 — 15 December 2014". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. London: Royal Society. 62: 409–431. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2016.0013.
  3. Anon (1983). "Professor Donald Metcalf AC FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:
    "All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License." --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. "Prof. Donald Metcalf Carden Fellow". The Cancer Council Victoria. 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  5. AlphaMed Press, Dayton, Ohio, USA, 2000. ISBN 1-880854-28-7
  6. "Professor Don Metcalf lab page". Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.
  7. "Professor Don Metcalf". Australian Academy of Science. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  8. It's an Honour: AO
  9. It's an Honour: AC
  10. It's an Honour: Centenary Medal

Further reading

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