Dr Alfred George Oettlé was born in S Africa in 1919. He graduated in Medicine from the University of Witwatersrand in 1942. In a brilliant undergraduate career he achieved first-class honours and 5 awards. He spent 15 months in the UK at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, and later was awarded a Fellowship which he used in cancer research.
On return to S Africa in 1951 he was appointed Cancer Research Fellow at the South African Institute of Medical Research; he became respected wherever cancer research was in progress.
Dr Oettlé served the Cancer Association of S Africa with distinction up to his death in 1967 at the age of 47. His extensive research strengthened the idea that the environment might be important in the cause of cancer; indeed he became convinced that at least 80% of cancers fell into this category, and that, therefore, they might be preventable.
Distressed by the early death of this brilliant research worker, his colleagues gathered together a sum of money, which was donated to the Cancer Association, with the request that a memorial to him be established. The Association subsequently endowed a medal, to be known as the Oettlé Memorial Medal.
The medal may be awarded to South Africans who through their original research have made valuable contributions regarding cancer; or who have rendered service of outstanding value to the Association.