Baur, Louise Alison AM
Louise Baur was born on 7 August 1956 in Coffs Harbour to George and Ruth Baur. Her father was based in Coffs Harbour as a forester before winning a Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations fellowship in 1960 which took the family to Europe and the America. Louise lived with her family in Puerto Rico for most of 1961. Returning to Sydney in 1961 the family purchased and lived in 3 Mary Street Beecroft from 1962 . Also living in Beecroft at this time were other distinguished foresters such as Wilfred de Beuzeville and Baldur Byles.
After Louise’s father heard of a motion by the local Public School Parents and Citizens to seek to expand its playground by not only purchasing all of the adjourning houses on the north side of Mary Street, but also the ‘old timber house opposite’ (ie the Baur home) he made sure that he attended all subsequent P&C meetings! At this time Mary Street appeared in street directories as continuing across the creek into what is now Fiona. A number of drivers who were unfamiliar with Beecroft would speed past the house only to find their car perched high in the trees and bush on the steep decline to the creek.
Louise attended Beecroft Public Primary School, where she was the girl school captain and dux in 1968. She then attended Cheltenham Girls High School (while Misses Mitchell and Smith were headmistresses), where she was dux in 1974, before proceeding to study medicine at the University of Sydney.
Baur’s home was next to the Presbyterian Church which she (and her family) attended. She was a youth group leader at this church in her later adolescent and early adulthood years. Being a neighbour to the church meant that they often heard the voluminous voice of Rev James Mullen preaching, without the aid of a microphone, in their kitchen. Families arriving early for weddings would often be anxious at Louise’s father gardening out the front of the house – thinking that as he lived so close to the church he must be the Minister! Brides were frequently viewed by Louise and her sister as they arrived at church and her mother barred them from bringing handfuls of confetti into the home.
Cotoneaster berry fights with other children in the street and games with her younger sister Angela feature strongly in her youth. She moved away from living in Beecroft in 1982.
Her paternal great grandfather, Fidel Georg Baur, was a doctor who travelled from his home in Switzerland to take up an appointment, in 1903, as the inaugural (and only) medical superintendent of the Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath. In later life he was as an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist in Macquarie Street Sydney.
Building on this family history, and being influenced by Louise’s sister having a significant life threatening illness during adolescent years, led her into pursuing paediatric studies. She completed her undergraduate studies in 1981 and gained a PhD in 1993. Her Fellowship with the Royal Australian College of Physicians was obtained in 1988.
Baur has largely worked at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and the University of Sydney where she was appointed a Professor in 2004 and the Douglas Burrows Professor in Paediatrics and Child Health in 2015. She became the foundation Head of Weight Management Services at that Hospital in 2008. Between 2015 and 2021 she was Head of Paediatrics and Child Health within the University. She also holds a conjoint appointment in the Sydney School of Public Health. She was made a Payne-Scott Professor of Distinction in 2020.
Baur is an internationally renowned childhood obesity researcher and practitioner who has been instrumental in raising the profile of childhood obesity both within Australia and internationally. She established in 1998 the first paediatric clinic specialising in medical issues (from a multidisciplinary perspective) associated with obese children in an Australian children’s hospital. She has published numerous books and articles in this area and was founding editor-in-chief of the international academic journal, Pediatric Obesity. She was a founder of the Australasian Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Network, is a member of various World Health Organisation working parties and a founding Fellow and former Council member of the Australian Academy of Health & Medical Sciences. She was on the Governing Board of the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network between 2011 and 2021 . In 2022 she will commence as the President of the World Obesity Federation.
In 2007 Baur was awarded the John Sands Medal for outstanding contributions to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and then in 2020 the Howard Williams Medal for services to paediatrics and child health of the same College. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2010, a foundation Fellow of the Academy of Health and Medical Sciences in 2014, and a Fellow of the Australian Nutrition Society in 2021.
She has been on the board of the Telstra Foundation and between 2007 and 2016 the board of World Vision Australia. In 2008 she was an invited member of the Prime Minister’s Australia 2020 Summit.
In 1988 she married, at St Aidan’s Anglican Church Annandale, a lawyer – Roderick Charles Best. While initially living in Annandale and Leichhardt they moved to Beecroft in 2004 – where they still live. Upon returning to Beecroft she resumed membership of the Presbyterian Church. She has an active involvement in church life. Jointly with her husband[LB(1], she has been involved in activities of the Beecroft Forum, Civic Trust and the local history group. She has co-authored an article on the life of Dr Ellen Wood, the first female medical practitioner in Beecroft .
1. G N Baur Family Connections (self published, 1994, Macmasters Beach) pp 5-6
2. Staff profiles, Sydney Medical School http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/people/academics/profiles/louise.baur.php (accessed 18 Oct 2021)
3. L Baur and R Best “The Forgotten Dr Ellen Wood” Radius (March 2013) 28-29