Emeritus Professor Byron A Kakulas AO, graduated in medicine from the University of Adelaide in 1956. After residency training at Royal Perth Hospital he specialised in clinical neurology. Being interested in research he soon realised that a thorough knowledge of pathology was essential in order to break new ground thus gaining a second specialist qualification in pathology.
In the interim he was confronted by a paralytic disease in a small marsupial the Rottnest Island Quokka which became the subject of his doctoral thesis. He found that the disorder was due to breakdown of muscle resulting from vitamin E deficiency thus discovering the hitherto unknown power of muscle to regenerate. This was a momentous breakthrough since it demonstrated the potential for all muscle diseases including muscular dystrophy to be curable. This had the effect of stimulating worldwide research in the field.
Combining this experience with an extensive study of human skeletal muscle affected by disease processes, he defined the factors which govern the reaction of muscle when diseased. These principles of myopathology have become the standard teaching worldwide. Having chosen the nervous system and muscle as a challenging area he pursued further expertise in neuropathology at Harvard Medical School. In 1967 he founded the Muscular Dystrophy Association of WA and soon after the Australian Neuromuscular Research Institute becoming the Medical Director of both, posts he held until 2010. In 1971 he was appointed Professor of Neuropathology, UWA, Dean of Medicine in 1978 and an Emeritus Professor in 2006.