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Biographical entry Flecker, Hugo (1884 - 1957)

7 December 1884
Prahran, Victoria, Australia
25 June 1957
Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Medical practitioner, Radiotherapist and Toxinologist


Hugo Flecker was a medical practitioner and one of Australia's pioneer radiologists who was known internationally for his research on poisoning by jellyfish. As a radiotherapist he was one of the first in Australia to use deep X-ray therapy and his published reports are among the earliest in Australian medical literature. In 1932 he moved from Melbourne to Cairns, his practice becoming a centre for radiological opinion and advice on snakebites, scorpion stings and the ingestion of toxic plants. He published the first report of coneshell poisoning in Australia in 1936. Flecker determined that unexplained deaths of swimmers were caused by extremely venomous box jellyfish, one species of which was named Chironex fleckeri in his honour. As foundation President of the North Queensland Naturalists' Club he greatly influenced the documentation and study of the region's flora. The Flecker Botanic Gardens, Cairns, were so named in 1971.



Education - MB ChM, University of Sydney
Education - Member, Royal College of Surgeons, London
Education - Licentiate, Royal College of Physicians, London
Education - Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh
1914 - 1917
Career position - Served with the Australian Imperial Forces
1918 - 1921
Career position - In general practice, Temora, New South Wales
1921 - 1932
Career position - In private radiology practice, Collins St, Melbourne
1923 - 1932?
Career position - Honorary Radiologist, Austin Hospital for Incurables, Melbourne
1926 - 1932?
Career position - Honorary Radiologist, Homeopathic (later Prince Henry's) Hospital, Melbourne
1927 - 1932?
Career position - Lecturer in Radiological Anatomy, University of Melbourne
1932 -
Career position - In practice as radiologist and radiotherapist, Cairns, Queensland
1932 - 1945
Career position - Foundation President, North Queensland Naturalists' Club
Education - Diploma in radiology, Sydney
Education - Fellow, Faculty of Radiology, England
1946 - 1957
Career position - Vice-President, North Queensland Naturalists' Club
Award - J. P. Thomson Medal, Royal Geographical Society of Australia

Published resources

Book Sections

  • Pearn, John H., 'Flecker, Hugo (1884-1957), Medical Practitioner, Radiotherapist, Toxicologist and Natural Historian' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, John Ritchie, ed., vol. 14 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 182-183. Details

Conference Papers

  • Clarkson, J.R., 'Hugo Flecker and the North Queensland Naturalists' Club', in History of Systematic Botany in Australasia: Proceedings of a Symposium Held at the University of Melbourne, 25-27 May 1988 edited by Short, P.S. (Melbourne: Australian Systematic Botany Society, 1990), pp. 171-178.. Details

Journal Articles

  • Lester, I. A., 'Obituary: Hugo Flecker', Medical Journal of Australia, 1957 (2) (1957), 809-10. Details
  • Pearn, John, 'Hugo Flecker's Contributions to Medicine and Natural History', Medical Journal of Australia, 161 (1) (1994), 66-67, 70. Details


See also

  • Paterson, R. A., 'The first fifty years of x-ray use in Queensland', Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 27 (567-88) (1989). Details
  • Pearn, John and Fenner, Peter, 'The Jellyfish Hunter - Jack Barnes: a Pioneer Medical Toxinologist in Australia', Toxicon, 48 (2006), 762-767. Details
  • Ryan, James, Sutton, Keith and Baigent, Malcolm eds, Australasian Radiology: a History (Sydney: McGraw-Hill, 1996), 542 pp. Details
  • Winkel, Kenneth D., Mirtschin, Peter and Pearn, John, 'Twentieth Century Toxinology and Antivenom development in Australia', Toxicon, 48 (7) (2006), 738-754 . Details

Helen Cohn