Miss Dora Lush

Miss Dora Lush was a promising scientist whose life was cut tragically short when she contracted a disease she was studying at the institute.

A short and brilliant career

An accomplished bacteriologist, Miss Lush was a close collaborator of Sir Macfarlane Burnet, working with him from 1934-39 researching diseases including influenza, herpes infections and myxomatosis.

Portrait of Dora Lush

In 1939 she left to take up a position at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, where she studied the influenza virus before embarking on research into immunisation against typhus.

Miss Lush returned to the institute in 1942, at a time when scrub typhus was a significant health problem among Australian servicemen. She resumed her collaboration with Sir Macfarlane Burnet, searching for a vaccine.

In April 1943, she accidentally pricked her finger with a needle containing scrub typhus, and died four weeks later.

In a tribute to Miss Lush, Sir Macfarlane Burnet wrote,

“it is difficult to express how grievous is her loss to the institute. She was the most outstandingly competent bacteriologist with whom I have ever worked… Our own sense of loss gives us a measure of the sympathy due to her family in their bereavement.”

In 1993 the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) named its Basic Science Postgraduate Scholarships in her honour.

Dora Mary Lush Plaque
Above: A plaque has been on display at the institute since her death, as a reminder of her contribution and loss.
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