Dr Jeffrey Searle





Histopathology, gastrointestinal, liver, medical renal


(07) 3377 8404
























































Dr Jeffrey Searle is one of Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology's most senior histopathologists. He is known for his work with Professor John Kerr on the morphology and incidence of apoptosis. In a series of articles published during the 1970s they described the ultrastructural changes associated with what was a hitherto unknown type of cell death. The work was to dramatically expand the understanding of cell biology and underpin further studies that would identify apoptosis as being an essential part of normal cell behaviour.

Dr Searle's passion for pathology emerged early in his studies at The University of Queensland and after the fourth year of his medical degree he undertook a separate science degree in pathology. He credits the influence of Prof. George Christie, then Professor of Pathology, for his consuming interest. He graduated with BSc in 1965 and MBBS in 1967.

After only one year as a medical resident at The Royal Brisbane Hospital, he was accepted into anatomical pathology training. In 1971, as a member of the Australian Society for Experimental Pathology, he was present at the annual meeting in Melbourne when Prof. John Kerr spoke about his recent research. Prof. Kerr had returned to UQ after three years in London where his PhD project had involved a light microscopic and enzyme histochemical study of experimental liver cell death. He repeated this work with an electron microscope and identified a process he termed 'shrinkage necrosis'.

Back at the bench at The Royal Brisbane Hospital, Dr Searle was prompted to take a closer look at the skin cancer tissue specimens he was routinely working on as part of his job. He found the same morphological changes that Prof. Kerr had observed in the livers of rats were occurring spontaneously in human samples. He took his slides to Prof. Kerr and together they set out to investigate the phenomenon in basal and squamous skin carcinomas. They were able to demonstrate that shrinkage necrosis was a spontaneous biological phenomenon that had a profound effect on the rate of tumour growth. The work was expanded to include many different non-neoplastic tissues.

Dr Searle was awarded a Doctor of Medicine and a Nuffield Commonwealth Travelling Fellowship for his work. He studied epithelial kinetics at Manchester and went to Edinburgh where Prof. Kerr had been collaborating with Dr Andrew Wylie and Dr Alistair Currie, and had renamed this form of cell death 'apoptosis'.

Dr Searle returned to work as an anatomical pathologist at The RBH, continuing his association with Prof. Kerr, and becoming Director of Anatomical Pathology in 1991. A Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and with memberships of the Australasian Division of the International Academy of Pathology, the Australasian Dermatopathology Society and the Gastroenterological Society of Queensland, he has published extensively and presented nationally and internationally.

Dr Searle joined SNP in 2008 and specialises in hepatopathology and renal pathology. He admits to being "totally consumed" by diagnostic pathology and particularly enjoys the challenge of clearly communicating information to referring doctors. "Working remotely in the lab environment away from the patient and clinician, you need to be constantly aware of what you say in your report. So there's a challenge to write a clear, concise and - above all - accurate report so that whoever receives it knows what you think and they can plan appropriate management. I like that challenge - trying to get it absolutely right."

During his years in the public sector Dr Searle was responsible for training many new generations of pathologists. It was something he enjoyed very much. At SNP he continues to play a mentoring role through the provision of teaching cases and advice regarding the writing of reports and delivery of service.

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