2018 Year in Review: July to December

Burnet Institute

20 December, 2018


1st Malaria World Congress - a major success!

More than 1000 delegates from 69 countries shared their vision for action, unity and impact in the fight against malaria at the inaugural Malaria World Congress in Melbourne.  

“There has been remarkable gains in the past decade with millions of lives saved as a result of deliberate global efforts but there is clearly still a mountain to climb,” founder and Co-Chair of the congress Professor Brendan Crabb AC said.

Image: Key speakers, the Hon John Brumby AO, Ms Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, and Ms Ida Savadogo celebrate the opening of MWC2018 with Congress Co-Chairs, Professor Alan Cowman, Associate Professor Helen Evans AO and Professor Brendan Crabb AC.

(Former) Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Julie Bishop MP delivered the keynote speech at the congress, where she warned the disease doesn’t respect borders. Health security emerged as a key issue in the battle against malaria, as did community engagement, as identified by Burnet’s Lisa Davidson.

The congress issued a global Statement of Action, in which delegates from 66 nations involved in the fight against malaria called for radical change.

Burnet at AIDS 2018 conference

The AIDS 2018 conference was held in Amsterdam, where Burnet maintained a strong presence. Head of Life Sciences Professor Gilda Tachedjian led a session on HIV transmission. The Institute’s Michael Traeger won a prestigious prize for young investigators at AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam.

A new Burnet study associated the use of HIV prevention medication, PrEP, with a rise in sexually transmitted infections.

Eliminating hepatitis C

Burnet hosted the World Hepatitis Day Symposium, helping to shine a light on efforts to eliminate hep C in Australia. Belief is growing that eliminating the deadly disease is possible in Australia.


More than 200 undergraduate students turned out at Burnet’s Student Night to discuss career opportunities in research science.

Professor Caroline Homer AO joined Burnet as Co-Program Director, Maternal and Child Health, and the Executive team. Burnet Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said the Institute was delighted Professor Homer had joined the team and predicted she would make an outstanding contribution to its work across many fields, especially in maternal and child health.

The breadth of Burnet’s research stood tall among shared NHMRC and MRFF funding of projects worth AUD$200 million, and a AUD$3 million DFAT grant.

Farewell Professor Suzanne Crowe AM

With Dr Anna Hearps (pictured left), Professor Crowe led Burnet’s Healthy Ageing Program.

After 30+ years, Professor Suzanne Crowe AM hung up her coat after more than 30 years in the laboratory.

“It’s with a mix of sadness, gratitude, fondness and huge congratulations that we bid farewell to Professor Suzanne Crowe,” Burnet Director and CEO, Professor Crabb AC said.

Launch of Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia Partnership (EC Australia)

EC Australia was launched at Parliament House by Federal Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, in partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation. Burnet is to coordinate a multi-million dollar national response to eliminate hepatitis C in Australia.

Professor Margaret Hellard at the EC Australia launch.


Calls for a new national overdose strategy was a key message from the CREIDU & MARC Symposium in Melbourne.

“We haven’t had a National Overdose Strategy since 2001 in Australia and we need one now.” - Professor Paul Dietze, Program Director, Behaviours and Health Risks, Burnet Institute.

On World Sepsis Day 2018, Burnet Institute confirmed its commitment to addressing this illness, which kills from 7-9 million people globally each year.

“Our international development people have long recognised that sepsis is one of the big killers of people and especially neonates and young children in the developing world,” Associate Professor David Anderson said.

Burnet launches qDOS

A new Burnet initiative, the Quick Development of Solutions Lab (qDOS Lab), got up and running; its aim is to fast-track innovative technologies through early proof-of-concept and feasibility stages.

Professor Caroline Homer joined Professor Brendan Crabb on the Council of the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Launch of Alfred Research Alliance

The month also saw the AMREP research precinct announce its biggest change in years with Burnet Institute a proud member.

AMREP (the Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct), established in 2002, is no more. Today the Alfred Research Alliance was unveiled. It’s a new commitment, name and strategic vision for the precinct.

Professor Caroline Homer joined Professor Brendan Crabb on the Council of the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The 15-member Council supports the NHMRC’s critical role in shaping and supporting research to address current and future health issues in Australia.


It was a month for recognition, as Professor Margaret Hellard was appointed a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

The prestigious fellowship came in recognition of her leadership and excellence over two decades into the research of infectious diseases, preventing their transmission, and identifying their impact in vulnerable populations.

Professor Caroline Homer became the inaugural winner of the Alastair Lucas Prize for Medical Research.

Professor Brendan Crabb AC, Professor Caroline Homer AO, Ms Chloe Shorten, The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Professor Homer paid tribute to Alastair Lucas for his ‘stellar leadership’ and said she was delighted and overwhelmed by the prize, which includes a competitive award of AUD$100,000 per annum for two years.

Friends, family and colleagues gathered at a Festschrift to honour Professor Suzanne Crowe and Professor John Mills.

A foundation staff member of Burnet since 1986, Professor Crowe recently announced her retirement from full-time work, though she will retain the role of Distinguished Emeritus Professor at the Institute as a PhD supervisor, investigator on a number of grants, and as a special advisor.


New Burnet research revealed important insights into malaria immunity that could support the development of a world-first effective malaria vaccine.

The work was particularly important as previous studies on human immunity to malaria have mainly focused on African populations, and few have investigated immunity outside of Africa.

Tall Poppy Award for Dr Megan Lim

Dr Megan Lim was honoured for her public health research with a prestigious Australian Institute of Policy and Science Tall Poppy Award.

Dr Megan Lim with her 2018 Tall Poppy Science Award. Photo: Dr Danielle Horyniak

Dr Lim’s research aims to understand the impact of these new technologies on young people’s health and wellbeing.

Burnet Deputy Director, Disease Elimination, Chad Hughes urged Australia to step up with a regional HIV focus.

Everybody Counts: WAD 2018

World AIDS Day 2018 provided a day to reflect on those affected by HIV and the many issues facing people living with HIV.

Keynote speaker, Burnet’s Head of Public Health, Professor Mark Stoové delivered a very personal and touching tribute to his cousin Isaac Stoové and explained why he was one of the reasons for the change in career direction from sport research to HIV.


Dr Liz Peach was recognised with the Graham Rouch Award of the Australian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (Victoria), of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), following her presentation, which highlighted latest research from Burnet’s Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies project in Papua New Guinea.

In more news of prizes, Associate Professor Freya Fowkes and Professor Mark Stoové were joint winners of Burnet’s prestigious Frank Fenner Award - the first time the award has been shared.

Fenner Award winners Professor Mark Stoové and Associate Professor Freya Fowkes with Professor Brendan Crabb

Associate Professor Fowkes’ research focuses on the epidemiology of malaria and, in particular, immunology, host genetics and susceptibility to malaria and associated morbidities. Professor Stoové has researched the transmission and impact of sexually transmitted and blood borne viruses among key risk populations for almost 20 years.

Happily, a broad range of Burnet studies attracted valuable funding from the Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Virology Research (ACH2).

Burnet research assistant Ned Latham’s hepatitis C research attracted a prestigious Monash University award.

Major milestone for Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies

After more than 2290 maternal health checks and 1500 baby checks over four years, field work is completed on our first HMHB study in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

HMHB field team conducting last check-up with a mum. (L-R) Ms Primrose Homiehombo, Dr Chris Morgan, Ms Rose Suruka and Ms Pele Melepia.

Image: The HMHB team celebrate the last baby follow-up in the study!

Burnet studies reflecting the breadth of the Institute’s research will benefit from NHMRC grants worth more than AUD$3.3million. Heading the list is a Project Grant worth $864,410 to Professor Gilda Tachedjian for research into a vaginal microbiota metabolite and its impact on epithelium integrity and HIV susceptibility.

Thanks for your support!

A HUGE thanks to all our supporters, collaborators, staff and students for making 2018 such a great year for Burnet and ensuring that we achieve better health for vulnerable communities in Australia and internationally.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Tracy Parish

Executive General Manager, Marketing and Communications




[email protected]

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