Born in Estonia and having lived into her teens in Europe, throughout the whole duration of the Second World War, Nina went to eight schools before finally reaching Adelaide University. There she commenced studies in Dentistry, following the career path set by her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother, who all believed dentistry was a good field. ‘Everybody has thirty-two teeth – and there is usually something wrong with some of them’, she was told.


The dental studies were abandoned after two terms – it was easy to change to Medicine, which seemed to offer more variety.


Graduating in Adelaide in 1956, after two years of residency at Royal Adelaide Hospital and Royal Children’s Hospital, she intended to take up medicine, while waiting for an opening she met a friend doing radiology who said – ‘Why don’t you help us – we are so short staffed’ – what’s new!










Pandora’s Box opened – after six weeks she was into angiography from cerebral angiography to translumbar aortography, splenoportography and whatever else there may have been available.


After one year at the Royal Adelaide Hospital she decided to move to Melbourne for better postgraduate facilities and landed a registrar job at St. Vincent’s Hospital, and one year later moved to the Alfred.


Graduating FRACR in 1962, she became staff radiologist at Alfred in 1953 and became Deputy Director in 1972. She took the English examination of FFR in 1971.


Throughout those nine years her main interests were in angiography, mammography, neuroradiology and interventional radiology.


Mammography started off by the Egan method on industrial film and went over to xerography in 1975. For a long time the Alfred Radiology Department as a leader in mammography.


High quality angiography was appreciated by the Vascular Unit, neurologists and neurosurgeons, and even commented on by ‘visiting firemen’ to the Vascular Unit. Quality was helped to be maintained by an in-house registrar angiography manual.


Nina introduced interventional radiography to the Alfred vascular procedures from angioplasty to carotid balloon occlusions, spinal angiography and interventional procedures for dealing with arteriovenous malformation in the lungs and brain, and minor embolization procedures for bleeding, especially bronchial and pelvic, the latter for trauma patients. Some of these procedures were done at the Alfred before they were accepted in other centres in Melbourne.


Nina became an Associate Member of the Neurosurgical Society of Australasia through a proposal by Mr Kevin Siu. She is also a senior member of the World Federation of Interventional Neuroradiologists and a Member of the Interventional Radiology Society of Australasia.




Another field of interest is education. In this area she established the concept of a structured teaching program for registrars, in which staff members and registrars participate.


The Alfred Film Library is known amongst registrars as a high-quality collection and the department receives requests from registrars from other Melbourne hospitals and interstate visitors to use it.


She saw teaching of undergraduate students as deficient for a long time and it may have been her efforts that contributed to this being recognised by a formal teaching program for medical students from Years 4-6.


Nina was made Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Surgery and eventually, Associate Professor.


Feeling a need for teaching in mammography, Nina assembled sufficient material from the work at the Alfred to organise a two-day course in mammography. This was run with the assistance of Dr Michael Moran, at least once a year for several years – a total of thirteen times – both in Melbourne and interstate, as well as in New Zealand.


With the arrival of increased teaching by overseas lecturers, it became hard to fill the courses and they were abandoned, although Nina continues to be invited as a guest lecturer to events in Malaysia and attended the 5th AOCR in India to lecture on the subject.


Nina has helped to establish the Breast Screen Assessment Centre at the Alfred Hospital and has extended her interests beyond Alfred Radiology by working for Breast Screen one day a week.


She has served on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Breast Screen for several years, and acted from 1972 as an Examiner for the College of Radiologists in pathology for 12 years and continued as an Examiner in Radiodiagnosis until 1996. Nina was Lecturer in Radiology at University of Melbourne for many years and served on the Education Board of the RACR from 1986 to 1996, as well as serving on the Victorian Branch Committee of the RACR from 1984 to 1994.


As Director of Radiology, appointed in October 1985, she took over a rather rundown department and proceeded to virtually replace most of the equipment that was present at that time. Unfortunately this is a never-ending process and she is facing the same formidable process with much less funding support.


Nina was fortunate to be able to retain several of the staff trained as staff Radiologists at the Alfred department, who together with some newcomers from other parts of the world, made up a very harmonious part of the Hospital for many years, giving quality patient service and fostering scientific development of the staff.


Her name is associated with numerous publications, mostly in the vascular field.


As hobbies she does all things most people do: gardening, cooking, embroidery, reading, travel and going out to shows – but does not seek to excel at any of those.

Dr Nina Sacharias

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