Prof Linda Holloway

Linda Holloway (née Brown: born 1940) graduated with MB ChB from the University of Aberdeen in 1964. Her awards included an undergraduate summer scholarship to study pathology in Sweden, a Nuffield travelling scholarship to Fiji, and the Matthews Duncan gold medal in obstetrics. Her first academic appointment was as a lecturer in the Department of Pathology at her alma mater. In 1970, following marriage to New Zealander, John Holloway (a fellow Aberdeen alumnus), nearly all of her career has been spent in New Zealand.

From 1970–95, Holloway was an Academic Pathologist and undertook original research into perinatal pathology. This significant work, studying the fetal and maternal circulation, shed light on the effect of placental separation before birth on mother and child. At Otago University, Holloway undertook research into the pathology of asthma and the causes of death in severe asthmatics, as well as being involved in international research into breast cancer. In addition, having developed expertise in diagnostic respiratory pathology, she provided a referral system to colleagues, and as Director of Laboratory Services made a significant contribution to the training of young pathologists.

In 1995, Holloway became the first woman to be Dean of Medicine in New Zealand, when she was appointed the Dean of the Wellington School of Medicine of the University of Otago. Its main Campus is in Dunedin, with others in Wellington and Christchurch; it offers degrees in a number of Health Science disciplines, including Medicine and Dentistry. Four years later, when Holloway took up the position as Assistant Vice-Chancellor (later renamed as Pro Vice-Chancellor), she became the most senior female academic in New Zealand. This position gave her responsibility of the whole of the Division of Health Sciences on all three campuses, as an administrative unit, larger than each of several New Zealand Universities. While holding this position, she was responsible for the establishment of an undergraduate degree in Radiation Therapy in Wellington, the first Otago degree to be taught entirely out of Dunedin. She also initiated the development of Inter-Professional Education, where groups of students from different clinical disciplines study together, thus forging the collegial links that are essential to clinical practice.

Prof Holloway has held and been recognised for a number of key contributions to health in New Zealand. The first was as the pathologist medical adviser to what became known as the Cartwright Inquiry, led by judge Silvia Cartwright. This inquiry, into the treatment of women suffering from cervical cancer at National Women’s Hospital in Auckland, was a watershed moment in patient rights, not only in New Zealand but globally resulting in the establishment of independent ethics committees focused on protecting patients’ rights.

Later in her career, Holloway was appointed chair of the National Health Committee, that was set up in law as an interdisciplinary committee to provide independent advice to the government on health matters. During her tenure on the committee, reports were produced on significant topics, such as the social determinants of health and health care of people living with disability. Holloway retired from full-time service in 2007 but has continued with a number of commitments.

Biography prepared from the nomination made to the University of Aberdeen 525 Alumni project.