James Cook University has established a memorial fund to honour public health specialist Professor Ross Spark, who died in Cairns this week after a short illness.
Professor Spark was Head of JCU’s School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, based in Cairns. The memorial fund will support an Indigenous health scholarship in the School.
“Ross devoted his professional life to public health, spending the majority of his career in northern Australia, from remote Aboriginal communities in the Kimberly to far north Queensland,“ Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Cocklin said.
“He has been Head of School for just over two years, but his association with JCU dates back to at least 1997, when he began an adjunct appointment. He has been a highly valued member of the JCU community.
“Our thoughts go out to Ross’s family and friends, who have suffered an unexpected and tragic loss.”
Tropical health researcher Peter Leggat said Professor Spark had genuinely embraced JCU’s mission of creating a better life in the tropics.
“In addition to his significant achievements in public health, we knew Ross as a person who was generous of spirit and a good friend,” Professor Leggat said. “He will be remembered with enormous respect and fondness by those who knew him.”
In 1992 Professor Spark established Queensland Health’s first Tropical Public Health Unit in Cairns.
When this later became a network of public health units across northern Queensland (in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Mount Isa) he continued as network director until 2007, when he was appointed as Health Advisor to the Australian Embassy in Vietnam for AusAID, based in Hanoi.
Before his appointment at JCU Professor Spark was deputy director of the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin.
A memorial service will be held in Cairns tomorrow (Friday 1 February). Donations to the memorial fund can be made online at http://alumni.jcu.edu.au/RossSparkMemFund.
Issued January 31, 2013
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