Double happiness

In what's believed to be a first, a married couple have graduated together with Doctorates of Medicine from UNSW.

Murrells inside2

In what's believed to be a first, a married couple have graduated together with Doctorates of Medicine from UNSW.

Professor George Murrell and Associate Professor Dédée Murrell, both of whom are UNSW conjoint academics at St George Clinical School, were each awarded their MDs by published thesis in a ceremony last week.

Each published thesis represents about 15 years' worth of publications in journals.

George, a specialist in orthopaedic surgery, received his MD for work on nitric oxide and tendon healing, while Dédée, a dermatologist, was conferred with hers for studies on blistering diseases.

The couple's three children, Oliver, 12, Alexander, 10 and Isabella, 8 also attended the ceremony.

"I remember watching as a senior clinician was given his MD at Oxford many years ago," said Dédée. "I remember thinking that it was such a big achievement. He was surrounded by his wife and kids and had also had this terrific career. I thought that I'd like to do that one day!

"I also wanted to show my daughter - and other girls - that it is possible to combine motherhood and a fulfilling career," she said. "I don't believe in being superwoman! I have always had help with the children and around the home."

The couple have some house rules, which keep the family and their careers in track: they don't go out during the week, they alternate conferences to ensure one of them is always at home with the children, and they take time off during the school holidays to relax as a family.

"This is a huge honour," said George. "They add further credibility to our work as clinicians and academics, because they are peer reviewed by some of the top people in our respective fields."