Vale Emeritus Professor Derek Denton

Equation of a life: Portrait of Professor Derek Denton 2016 by Evert Ploeg (b 1963), National Portrait Gallery


A State Memorial Service for Emeritus Professor Derek Denton AC FRS FAA FRCP FRACP LLD (Hon.) was held at the Rippon Lea Estate at 11 am on Thursday 23 March 2023. The Premier of Victoria issued a statement on his passing in 2022. Deputy Principal and Head of the Senior Campus Mr Nicholas Foster attended the memorial on behalf of Launceston Church Grammar School.

Professor Denton (1940) was awarded the Peter Sculthorpe Award in 2016 in recognition of his scientific achievements. A pioneer in medical research, Professor Denton was the founding director of the Florey Institute, Victoria’s internationally renowned brain research centre. His career as a research physiologist began in 1947 at the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he made contributions to our understanding of kidney function only a few months after his graduation from the University of Melbourne. He went on to make numerous ground-breaking discoveries about how the brain genetically regulates chemicals, salt, and water in the body.

Alongside colleagues, he made ground-breaking contributions to intensive care medicine through real-time assessment of body chemistry.

Professor Denton also led numerous international research projects on instinctive behaviours in animals – such as thirst, hunger and the urge to reproduce – and the nature of consciousness. Professor Denton was elected as a member of the most prestigious scientific academies in the world for his numerous discoveries.

He was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2005 for his leadership in medical research.

27 May 1924 – 18 November 2022