Dr Jeffrey Ayton

2014 Chancellor's Award Recipient. College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences

Dr Jeffrey Ayton graduated from James Cook University with a Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 2002 and is the Chief Medical Officer, Australian Antarctic Division, in the Australian Government’s Department of Environment.

Dr Ayton has a passion for rural and remote medicine and has inspired  Australian doctors, and students to pursue a career in rural and remote medicine.

Following medical graduation, Dr Ayton has sought out experience in rural and remote medicine that few doctors would have the opportunity to experience.

In 1992, he wintered at Australia’s extremely remote Casey Station, in Antarctica, as the station doctor.

He has subsequently gained varied experience in other rural and remote medical practices as a procedural general practitioner, GP obstetrician and GP anaesthetist including Lorne, Victoria, Norfolk Island, South Pacific, and Papua New Guinea. He has also been the Deputy Medical Director for International SOS (Australasia).

Dr Ayton’s appointment with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) as Chief Medical Officer in 2002 saw him gain responsibility for the AAD’s medical support and human biology and medicine research.

He is current Australian delegate to Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research Life Sciences Scientific Group and Chief Officer of the SCAR COMNAP Joint Expert Group of Human Biology and Medicine.

As lead of Australian Antarctic medical research, he has collaborated with National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) funded research programs on medicine in extreme environments for more than 10 years.

The 8 month over-winter isolation of Australian Antarctic stations is akin to isolation in space. Research in this environment  is considered an analogue
for medical support of space travel, especially for more extended interplanetary missions in the future.

Dr Ayton has also played a significant role in policy development and professional leadership in rural and remote medicine. He is Immediate Past President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) having served as ACRRM President from 2009-2011. He is also Deputy Chair of General Practice Training Tasmania (GPTT) and Chair of ACRRM’s National Telehealth Advisory Committee promoting telehealth across rural and remote Australia.

Dr Ayton has worked closely with the College of Medicine and Dentistry JCU in the development of medical education training and student placements. He has also assisted the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, JCU, in establishing Australia’s first postgraduate course in expedition and wilderness medicine. He has taught on this program since its inception.