Suzanne Crowe: a dame for all reasons

Burnet Institute

22 April, 2013

Burnet Institute Associate Director, Professor Suzanne Crowe’s long and distinguished career in HIV research and care has been featured in the world’s premier medical journal The Lancet.

By Selina Lo

“Ours is a group effort and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with a wonderful team”, says Suzanne Crowe, humbly.

Crowe is Associate Director at the Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health, in Melbourne, Australia, where she is responsible for clinical research.

Her former PhD student, Sharon Lewin, Co-Chair of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), however, credits Crowe as being “one of the first scientists to identify that HIV affects macrophages and that it was not just a disease of T cells”.

Crowe’s contributions to science, particularly research on HIV pathogenesis and efforts to bring low-cost CD4 testing to developing countries, have made for a diverse career. In 2011 she was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia, with friends now jokingly addressing her as “Dame”.

When The Lancet finally caught up with Crowe, she had just flown in from Seattle and was flying to Yangon that evening.

Group effort aside, Crowe’s personal energetic dedication to her work, evidenced by air miles alone, is not in doubt.

Raised in Melbourne by a musically trained mother, Crowe initially balanced work as a medical laboratory technician and a musician in a rock band.

Shedding vinyl boots and false eyelashes for a white lab coat by day, she soon tired of “just giving results to a doctor who would act on them” and went to medical school at Monash University.

Her training in infectious diseases at Melbourne’s Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital coincided with the start of the AIDS epidemic and imparted what she says was a special “culture of care which embodied respect for people with no discrimination and trying to see from their perspective what they are going through”.

In the mid-1980s, Crowe was invited to the University of California, San Francisco, where she “became totally immersed in HIV research” under the tutelage of Michael McGrath and John Mills, who was later to become her husband.

She describes the early days of the AIDS epidemic as “a political time, an emotional time, but exciting because nothing was known, and every piece of the jigsaw that you provided was incredibly important”.

After 3 years she returned to Melbourne to set up a new HIV laboratory to lead work on her part of the puzzle: HIV pathogenesis.

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Contact Details

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

Professor Suzanne Crowe AO

Burnet Associate




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