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To read highlights from the first half of the year click here.

The Burnet Diagnostics Initiative (BDI) reached a major milestone in July, with the awarding of ISO 9001 certification. International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001 certification is based on quality management principles including a strong client focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach, and a commitment to continual improvement.

“The certification gives our industry partners, funders and study participants confidence that we conduct our research in an ethical, robust and reproducible way that meets the highest international standards,” BDI Director Jennifer Barnes said.

Burnet Institute Senior Research Fellow Dr Lindi Masson, and Professor Josh Vogel, Co-Head of Global Women’s and Newborn’s Health Group, were announced as the winners of two of Burnet’s most prestigious awards. Dr Masson won the 2023 Alastair Lucas Prize for Medical Research, and Professor Vogel was the Gust-McKenzie Medallist for 2023.


The Institute welcomed 11 delegates from Papua New Guinea and Fiji as a part of the Australia Awards Fellowships. The delegates, from a range of professional backgrounds, spent two weeks at Burnet, participating in workshops focused on HIV prevention and health promotion, sessions on harm reduction and community-based testing. Burnet also welcomed Australia Awards Fellowships delegates from Myanmar and Tanzania to learn more about the prevention, treatment and testing of hepatitis C and harm reduction for people who inject drugs.

Associate Professor Suman Majumdar was appointed to the new role of Burnet Chief Health Officer – COVID-19 and Health Emergencies. In addition to his role in the Know-C19 Initiative, Associate Professor Majumdar was the Federal Government’s principal medical advisor in the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre during the 2020 emergency response, and served for two years as Deputy Chief Health Officer with the Victorian Department of Health. Associate Professor Majumdar will retain the position of Deputy Program Director, Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness.

Burnet received a AUD$3.97 million NHMRC grant to support the SuperMIX and VMAX studies into the health needs of people who inject drugs, for a further five years. The longest ongoing study of its type in Australia, SuperMIX has been running since 2008 with more than 1,500 participants, while VMAX is a joint study between Burnet and Monash Rural Health of 800 Victorians who use methamphetamine. 


Burnet research into malaria, and maternal and newborn health was awarded AUD$5 million in funding from NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence grants. Led by Professor Freya Fowkes, the Modern Acceleration Strategies for Eradication of Malaria in the Asia-Pacific (MASTER-MAP) CRE has been granted AUD$2.5 million over five years. The Accelerating Research and Progress in Maternal and Newborn (ARPAN CRE) health virtual centre will receive AUD$2.5 million over five years, led by Professor Homer, Co-Head of the Global Women's and Newborn's Health Group.

Professor Crabb was in New York to attend the United Nations High-Level meetings on tuberculosis and pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

“We have to bring everyone along not just because it's the morally right thing to do, but because you're only as strong as your weakest link in a pandemic,” Professor Crabb told the ABC’s PM program.

Burnet Institute entered into a Research Licence and Option Agreement with biopharma company argenx for Stellabody® — a ground-breaking technology that supercharges monoclonal antibodies and antibody-like drugs, which can be tailored to suit a broad range of disease targets and applications. Discovered by researchers of the Immune Therapies Group at Burnet, Stellabody® has the potential to improve existing medicines and pave the way for new life-saving treatments. “For example, in a cancer context, it can increase the potency of existing antibody medicines or extend their use to cancers that previously did not respond to them,” Head of the Immune Therapies Group and co-inventor, Professor Mark Hogarth, said.

Burnet research into eliminating hepatitis C in Australia received an AUD$5 million Synergy Grant from the NHMRC. Led by Deputy Director of Programs, Professor Margaret Hellard AM, the grant will help identify new models of care for people living with the Hepatitis C virus that are cost-effective, sustainable and easily scaled up to increase testing and treatment.

“This work is critically important if Australia is to achieve the 2030 target of eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat," Professor Hellard said.

The first-year report of the Reaching Zero-Dose and Under-Immunised Children in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea project, was released. A partnership with the East New Britain Provincial Health Authority and Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, the project aims to better understand the challenges around children accessing routine immunisation, and to better plan and develop context-specific strategies to address them.

At the 2023 Burnet Oration, world-renowned COVID-19 researcher Dr Ziyad Al-Aly, chief of research and development at VA Saint Louis Health Care System, shared his findings on the risks of long COVID-19 infection and reinfection. Burnet’s biggest external event since COVID-19, the oration was an opportunity to bring our staff, students, supporters, and donors together for networking and a keynote address from an expert in the field.

Professor Homer, Burnet Deputy Director (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), was announced as the winner of the institute’s most prestigious internal prize, the Fenner Award for 2023 — named in honour of Australian virologist, Frank Fenner. With more than 30 years of experience in the sector, Professor Homer has led research and development projects in midwifery, health services delivery, reproductive, maternal and newborn care, and healthcare human resources in Australia and across Asia-Pacific.

The year finished on a high for Burnet researchers awarded Investigator Grants from the NHMRC for their work in reducing the burden of hepatitis B, and sexually transmitted infections among gay and bisexual men. Burnet Senior Research Fellow, Associate Professor Jessica Howell receives AUD$1.3 million for her project focused on the use of novel diagnostics, new models of care and economic modelling to achieve hepatitis B elimination and reduce liver cancer deaths. Funding valued at AUD$662,000 will assist Burnet Research Officer Dr Michael Traeger's development of a surveillance and prevention research framework to reduce sexually transmitted infections in gay and bisexual men.