-

Curtin Medal recognises Institute director’s contributions to medical research

27 June 2016
Related topics
Professor Doug Hilton in his office
Professor Doug Hilton has been awarded The Curtin Medal
for Excellence in Medical Research.
Professor Doug Hilton, director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, has been awarded The Curtin Medal for Excellence in Medical Research for his outstanding contributions to medical science.

The award from The John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) at The Australian National University recognises Professor Hilton’s research discoveries as well as his championing of gender equity in science and advocacy for public funding of medical research in Australia. The medal will be presented tonight at a ceremony in Canberra.

Professor Hilton, who became the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s sixth director in 2009, and is the current president of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes, said he was honoured to receive the award. “For nearly 70 years JCSMR has produced world-leading medical research that has had global impacts,” he said.

“As well as having a great professional respect for JCSMR, I also have a personal connection – it was in Professor Ian Young’s lab, as a 19 year old undergraduate student, that I first discovered the amazing world of blood cells, a fascination that I still have more than three decades later.”

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and JCSMR have many historic connections and shared alumni, including:

  • Professor Frank Fenner, a distinguished virologist who contributed to the eradiation of smallpox worldwide and the introduction of myxomatosis to control rabbits in Australia, worked at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute from 1946 to 1949, and from 1949 to 1977 at JCSMR, initially as Microbiology Department head and from 1967 to 1973 as JCSMR director.
  • In 1951, Professor Frank Fenner, then at JCSMR, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute director Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet, and CSIRO chairman Sir Ian Clunies Ross famously injected themselves with myxoma virus to publicly demonstrate its safety in humans.
  • Professor Alfred Gottschalk, a biochemist who discovered the influenza neuraminidase protein, worked at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute from 1939 to 1959, and from 1959 to 1963 at JCSMR.
  • Professor Gordon Ada, a virologist who revealed that influenza virus uses RNA as its genetic material, worked at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute from 1948 to 1968, and from 1968 to 1987 at JCSMR, succeeding Professor Fenner as head of its Microbiology Department.
  • Professor Simon Foote, geneticist, malaria researcher and current JCSMR director (since 2014), was co-head of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s Genetics and Bioinformatics Division from 1994 to 2005.
  • Professor Phil Hodgkin, the head of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s Immunology division, undertook PhD studies at JCSMR and later worked there as a research fellow.
  • Dr James Murphy, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute faculty member, undertook PhD studies at JCMSR.
  • Dr Edwin Hawkins, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute faculty member and PhD graduate, undertook Honours studies at JCSMR.

There are currently a number of productive collaborations between Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and JCSMR researchers, such as a study into the genetics of primary immunodeficiencies.

Previous recipients of the Curtin Prize have included Nobel Laureates Professor Elizabeth Blackburn, Professor Peter Doherty and Emeritus Professor Rolf Zinkernagel; Professor Samuel Gershon, who pioneered the use of lithium for the treatment of psychiatric conditions; Professor Ian Frazer, who developed the vaccine for human papilloma virus; and cancer researcher and former Walter and Eliza Hall Institute director Professor Suzanne Cory.

For further information

Vanessa Solomon
Communications Adviser
Ph: +61 3 9345 2971
Mob: +61 431 766 715
Email: solomon@wehi.edu.au

 

Support us

Together we can create a brighter future

Your support will help WEHI’s researchers make discoveries and find treatments to ensure healthier, longer lives for you and your loved ones.

Sign up to our quarterly newsletter Illuminate

Find out about recent discoveries, community supporters and more.

Illuminate Autumn 2024
View the current issue