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Audrey Josephine CAHN

Also known as: née Osborne

Born: 17 October 1905

Died: 1 April 2008

Special Achievements:

1928 - First woman to complete the newly established agriculture degree at Melbourne University.

Additional Information:

Cahn's mother, a medical practitioner, was interested in nutrition, and her dietetic surveys in American hospitals led to the establishment of the first dietetics school in Victoria, St Vincent's Hospital. This created in Cahn a life-long passion for nutrition science.

She was the first woman to graduate with agriculture degree. Her first job, as a microbiologist and food analyst, was for Kraft.

After her divorce with Leslie Chan, with whom she had two children, she started working in the newly opened Dietetics unit in the St Vincent's Hospital. In the 1930s, she didn't have much opportunities of professional career in Agriculture or Science as a woman. She became the chief dietitian at the St Vincent's Hospital, and later on moved to the Victorian Mental Hygiene Department.

In 1936, Cahn was one of the founders of the Dietetics Association. In the same period, she updated her qualifications by submitting a diploma thesis for the newly established (by her father) study program at Melbourne University. The topic of her thesis was "Aspects of Hospital Dietetics".

When the World War II started, she was working in the Royal Perth Hospital. Returning to Melbourne, she joined the army on the position of chief dietitian at the Heidelberg Military Hospital, and, as such, reached the rank of major.

Cahn became a dietetics lecturer for Melbourne University in 1947. She perceived nutrition as a holistic discipline and was advocating the idea that nutrition and dietetics should be preventive medicine. With her believes, she was ahead of her time. She was a preacher for the idea that there is a need to reduce the fat intake and substitute the polyunsaturated fatty acids with saturated fats.