2016 Year in Review: January to June

Burnet Institute

20 December, 2016

Burnet celebrated its 30th year milestone throughout 2016. Find out more about our rich history in medical research and public health.


A brilliant summer’s day drew thousands to the 2016 Midsumma Carnival, where Burnet staff and the Victorian AIDS Council offered PRONTO! rapid HIV testing.

Burnet Institute hosted a delegation of senior officials from the Ministry of Health in Vietnam, including the Director of the Department of Maternal and Child Health and Immunisation. Researchers spoke to the delegation about Burnet’s maternal and child health activities in Asia.

Burnet Institute Patron Mrs Maria Myers was named a Companion in the Order of Australia (AC) in the Australia Day Honours for philanthropy in the performing and visual arts and contributions to higher education, medical research and the law.


Peer-led, point-of-care, HIV testing service PRONTO! expanded to include a PrEP Clinic and screening for sexually transmitted infections.

Burnet Institute and Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC was profiled in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. The Institute’s status as Australia’s only medical research institute that is also an accredited non-governmental overseas aid organisation (NGO) was hailed as an asset.

Burnet boosted its Reducing the Impact of Drug-resistant Tuberculosis project in Western Province, Papua New Guinea with the appointment of three new field staff based in Daru.


New and highly effective medications for hepatitis C - direct-acting antiviral drugs - were listed on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, reducing costs to patients from thousands of dollars to just AUD$6.20 for concessional patients and $37.70 for general patients.

Achieving gender equity was the theme of Burnet Institute board member Helen Evans’ inspirational keynote address at a special luncheon to celebrate 2016 International Women’s Day.

A Burnet Institute delegation including Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC and Chair Mr Rob Milne visited Myanmar to see several of the Institute’s projects, and to meet Myanmar-based staff and volunteers.

The link between poverty and TB was the subject of Professor Brendan Crabb’s address to a World TB Day Seminar.


Burnet Institute’s 30th anniversary year was celebrated at a reception hosted by Burnet’s Patron-in-Chief, Victorian Governor, The Honourable Linda Dessau, and held in the Drawing Room at Government House Melbourne.

Burnet Institute celebrated the 2016 Day of Immunology by opening laboratory doors to students to offer new insights into immunological research.

Burnet Institute and the School of Medicine and Health Science (SMHS) at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding expected to enhance academic collaboration, joint research, project tenders and grant applications.

The expert advisory board for the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) was announced, with 2006 Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer AC as the chair. The board will shape the strategy guiding the allocation of grants from the MRFF.


In a Burnet-led project in Zimbabwe, the Nyagundi Maternity Waiting Home was opened in Mutare Rural District, Manicaland Province. Maternity Waiting Homes host pregnant women, reducing perinatal mortality by increasing access to birth support services in remote areas.

Burnet Institute and The Kirby Institute signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on hepatitis C virus elimination, engaging with Australian and international agencies for research and program funding.

Professor Wilson, Head, Infectious Disease Modelling in the Centre for Population Health, won an Australian Academy of Science 2016 Gustav Nossal Medal for Global Health for outstanding and innovative research in the use of mathematical modelling to influence global health funding decisions.


A collaborative study led by Burnet Laboratory Head Dr Raffi Gugasyan and top PhD student Ms Elisha de Valle provided new insights into autoimmune disease, with a particular focus on the gene NF-kB1, and its role in controlling inflammation in the body.

Burnet research by Head of Sexual Health and Young People Research Dr Megan Lim - Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll 2015 - indicated the average age of first watching pornography was 14 years and almost half of Australia’s young people had tried sexting (sending sexy or nude pictures via mobile phones or social media).

Cancer Council Victoria and Burnet Institute’s Screening for Hepatitis in At-Risk Populations (SHARP) new pilot project trialled four new interventions to help diagnose hepatitis B in GP clinics, with early diagnosis and treatment considered crucial to reduce the risk of liver cancer.

Burnet Institute participated in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Pilot of Athena SWAN in Australia, a UK gender equity accreditation program. Associate Professor Heidi Drummer (below) is Chair of Burnet’s Gender Equity Committee.

Contact Details

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

Paul Rathbone

Executive General Manager, Public Affairs & External Relations




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