2011 Year in Review

Burnet Institute

23 December, 2011

As the year comes to a close, we take this opportunity to reflect on our major news stories of 2011. Exciting events, scientific discoveries, awards and significant milestones made this year one of Burnet’s most successful.

The Burnet Institute joined thousands of rock fans at Melbourne’s Big Day Out on Sunday 30 January to research the attitudes of young Australians towards sex and drugs.

The Institute became a member of the Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC).

Malaria researcher, Dr James Beeson and his lab team joined Burnet’s Centre for Immunology. The Beeson Lab, previously based at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) focuses on understanding immunity to malaria through clinical and population studies in malaria-endemic countries, and malaria vaccine development.

Some of Victoria’s most senior officials were present at a special garden party at Government House last Saturday to celebrate the Burnet Institute’s 25th anniversary.

Burnet appointed two new Ambassadors – Princess Kasune Zulu and Belinda Collins – who are both passionate in their commitment to raise awareness globally about the effects of HIV and AIDS.

The Burnet Institute joined a number of institutions and experts (Australian and international) to endorse the ‘Melbourne Statement’ - a call for the consideration of all available strategies to prevent hepatitis B transmission to newborns.

Burnet Institute staff joined thousands of their peers on the steps outside the State Library to hear from patients and their families likely to be impacted by the expected $400 million cut to the NHMRC budget.

Five Burnet Institute staff were amongst the 800 researchers, policy-makers, services providers and advocates from 80 countries at the recent 22nd International Harm Reduction Conference in Beirut, Lebanon, which focussed on ‘Building capacity, redressing neglect’.

Burnet welcomed the Federal Government’s Budget announcement that funding for the National Health and Medical Research Funding Council (NHMRC) will not be cut as predicted, but be retained at close to current levels.

HIV researcher Associate Professor Paul Gorry was presented with the 2011 Gust-McKenzie Medal.

Co-head of Virology, Professor Suzanne Crowe, Board Chairman Mr Alastair Lucas and Board Director, Ms Natasha Stott Despoja have each been awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Dr Lachlan Gray was involved in the Fresh Science program which profiled his research into HIV and dementia, a topic which received wide media coverage and continued to do so throughout the year.

Dr Stuart Kinner’s research revealing ex-prisoners in their first year of release are dying at 10 times the rate of those in custody was well publicized after it was published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

The $2.5 millon Centre for Research Excellence into Injecting Drug Use (CREIDU) was launched at the Institute, with the aim of improving the health of people who inject drugs.

Professor Sharon Lewin is one of a group of seven researchers (and the only Australian) awarded one of the biggest investments into HIV research in history. Professor Lewin joined some of the world’s best HIV researchers awarded a $20 million grant for the sole purpose of finding a cure for HIV.

Professor Lewin was also presented the Fenner Award for 2011 for her contribution to research into HIV and AIDS.

A number of Burnet staff travelled to Canberra for the Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference and Sexual Health Conference with many presenting their research.

The Institute joined forces with the Global Poverty Project in Canberra to leverage the Federal Government to support global efforts to eradicate polio.

Burnet Institute board member Natasha Stott Despoja joined Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb and Chairman Alastair Lucas on a trip to Laos to see our staff in action.

Staff, supporters and friends of the Institute packed the AMREP Seminar room for the inaugural Burnet Excellence Awards.

A capacity crowd filled BMW Edge in Melbourne to hear Nobel Laureate Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi present the 2011 Burnet Oration.

Burnet welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement to commit $50 million to the global polio eradication effort. Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the funding at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth.

The Queer as F**k project aimed at using social media to promote sexual health and safe sex messages attracted the support of Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush.

It was announced the world’s largest HIV and AIDS conference is coming to Melbourne in 2014 with Burnet’s Co-head of the Centre for Virology, Professor Sharon Lewin named Local Chair.

The Logistic Officer in Burnet’s Port Morseby office, Harry Fong performing under the stage name HarryKane, made it to the grand final of Papua New Guinea Idol.

An Australian-first program distributing Naloxone – an opioid overdose reversal drug – to potential overdose victims was launched in Canberra. Head of Burnet’s Alcohol and other Drug Research Group, Professor Paul Dietze was part of the Expanding Naloxone Availability in ACT (ENAACT) committee, and will have an ongoing role in evaluating the program.

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