Professor Ian Gust AO honoured at special tribute dinner

Burnet Institute

28 February, 2014

Professor Ian Gust AO

Burnet Institute’s inaugural director, Professor Ian Gust AO has been honoured at a special tribute dinner where his extraordinary contributions to medical research and public health were recognised.

More than 120 colleagues, friends and family joined Professor Gust at the University of Melbourne to celebrate a stellar career, which among many things, transformed Burnet’s approach to vaccine research and set the direction for Australia’s response to the onset of the HIV epidemic.

Professor Gust led the development and introduction of screening tests for hepatitis B which resulted in a dramatic reduction of post-transfusion hepatitis, the development of assays, pioneering epidemiologic studies of hepatitis B in the western Pacific, the development of an attenuated strain of hepatitis A which was used to develop the world’s first vaccine against the virus, and was the driver behind the formation of the Burnet Institute.

He was a key advisor in Australia’s response to the HIV epidemic, developing the first early diagnostic assays, establishing the National HIV Reference Laboratory, and directing the National Health and Medical Research Council’s special unit for AIDS virology.

Following his directorship of Burnet, Professor Gust took up the position of Head of Research and Development at CSL, a position he held for 10 years, lifting the reputation of CSL’s R&D significantly, and was closely involved in the successful expansion in Australia and internationally.

Professor Gust also served as a member of World Health Organization expert committees on viral hepatitis, biological standardisation and virus diseases. He has been a Director of the National Hepatitis Reference Centre and served as the Commonwealth Chief Medical and Scientific Adviser on AIDS. More recently he has been director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Influenza and a member of the National Influenza Pandemic Planning Committee.

In 1992, Professor Gust was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to public health, particularly in the prevention of hepatitis and AIDS.

Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb spoke at the tribute event where he congratulated Professor Gust on an incredible career, spanning more than four decades.

“Ian is a true visionary who has enjoyed an amazing career – he is an inspiration to many,” Professor Crabb said.

Key speakers at the dinner also included Burnet Institute’s Associate Director, Professor Suzanne Crowe AM; Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, Professor Anne Kelso AO; Professor David Penington AC, Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty AC, Emeritus Professor Sir Gustav Nossal AC, CBE; CSL Chief Scientific Officer and Director of Research and Development, Dr Andrew Cuthbertson and Dr Nick Gust. A video message of congratulations featured the CEO of the GAVI Alliance, Dr Seth Berkley.

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Paul Rathbone

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