Australia Day

26 January 2015

96 days to go

Professor Peter Leggat AM

Professor Peter Leggat AM


Medical researcher and community volunteer

Peter Leggat AM is Professor of Tropical Medicine at James Cook University (JCU) and National Director of Training for St John Ambulance Australia.

Peter trained as a doctor at the University of Queensland and was a Queensland Youth of the Year finalist in 1986. Following graduation, he entered full-time military service as a doctor-soldier and completed training in tropical medicine. He then helped found a professional medical association, The Australasian College of Tropical Medicine and has since served as President on three occasions.

In 1992, Peter joined JCU, where a tropical medicine institute had just been re-established. He maintained a link with the army reserve for many years, serving in East Timor in 2000—the year following his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. In 2002, he was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to study in the USA, which rekindled a keen interest in aerospace medicine. Peter assumed the role of Head of the School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences at JCU in 2007.

Peter’s research has focused on preventing some of the most devastating tropical diseases, including malaria and filariasis, both mosquito-borne diseases affecting hundreds of millions of people globally. He has a particular interest in how these types of diseases can impact travellers going to affected areas. He has helped trial a new anti-malarial drug that appears to be a very effective drug against malaria and help protect travellers going to malarious areas. He has consulted with various groups including the World Health Organization. He is also the first Australian to hold a senior office in the International Society of Travel Medicine, becoming its Secretary-Treasurer in 2013.

Peter has published more than 20 books and written more than 70 chapters and 450 papers for scientific journals. His current writing project is a book titled Essential Travel Medicine.

He also provides voluntary service to a number of charity and professional groups. One of his main claims to fame as National Director of Training in St. John, a volunteer role, is that he signs around 600,000 first aid certificates every year—electronically of course!

Peter has been recognised with numerous honours, but his admission as an Officer of the Order of St John in 2011 and as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2013 are his most treasured awards.