Image: Professor Christina Mitchell AO
Burnet Institute Board Member, Professor Christina Mitchell, former Board Member and former Patron, Ms Natasha Stott Despoja, and collaborator Professor Alan Cowman are among eminent Australians acknowledged for their outstanding community service with 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Professor Cowman, one of the world’s foremost molecular biologists focused on malaria, was made a Companion in the Order of Australia (AC), and Professor Mitchell and Ms Stott Despoja made Officers in the Order of Australia (AO).
Ms Stott Despoja’s award, for her advocacy for gender equality, is an elevation from the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) she received in 2011 for her service to the Parliament of Australia.
A Senator for South Australia from 1995-2008 and former leader of the Australian Democrats, Ms Stott Despoja was Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls from 2013-2016.
She was a Burnet Board Member from 2008-2013, and the founding Chair of Our Watch, a foundation working to prevent violence against women and their children.
Image: Professor Alan Cowman AC
Also awarded an AO is public health and infectious diseases physician, Nobel Laureate, Associate Professor Tilman Ruff, for distinguished service to the global community as an advocate for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and to medicine.
Associate Professor Ruff was a founding staff member of Burnet’s International Health Unit and led the original studies of the impact of birth dose hepatitis B vaccine in Indonesia.
The Dean of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University and a Burnet Board Member since 2011, Professor Mitchell was acknowledged for her distinguished service to medicine in the field of haematology, to medical education and research, and to academic leadership.
Professor Cowman co-Chaired last year’s inaugural Malaria World Congress in Melbourne with Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC, and Associate Professor Helen Evans AO.
Image: Ms Natasha Stott Despoja AO
“In addition to that, Alan spreads the word, particularly through helping train future scientists in the developing world, especially the world that is at risk of malaria, a disease that he’s spent most of his life and career working on.”
The Head of Infection and Immunity at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Professor Cowman specialises in researching the malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, and the molecular mechanisms it uses to evade host responses and antimalarial drugs.
His work has enabled geographic monitoring of the spread of drug-resistant malaria, and helped to facilitate the development of new treatments and vaccines.