Childhood pneumonia researcher recognised with Peter Wills Medal

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A range of researchers and influencers were acknowledged at the recent Research Australia Health and Medical Research Awards.

The illustrious Peter Wills Medal was awarded to Professor Kim Mulholland for his research to improve the health of children in developing countries. Professor Mulholland has focused his over three decades of research on childhood pneumonia, in particular, the evaluation and introduction of new vaccines for the prevention of pneumonia in the developing world.

“From the achievements of Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Sir Howard Florey to Elizabeth Blackburn and Ian Frazer, Australia has a proud and illustrious history when it comes to medical breakthroughs and charting an influential and significant course in health and medical research. Professor Mulholland continues this tradition," said Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin.

“Professor Mulholland’s global contributions to the problem of childhood pneumonia, past and current, continue today with studies underway in many countries including Vietnam and Mongolia and demonstrate not only his professional commitment to controlling this disease but also his dedication to its eradication."

The Great Australian Philanthropy Award was awarded to Mr Andrew Forrest AO and Mrs Nicola Forrest for their leadership in giving with impact and offering examples of good practice to encourage further social giving.

Mr Forrest is the founder and former CEO of Fortescue Metals Group. Mr and Mrs Forrest recently announced one of Australia’s largest private donations, of $400 million, including $75 million dollars for the Eliminate Cancer Initiative.

The Leadership in Corporate Giving Award went to The QBE Foundation. 

The Foundation, which was launched in 2011 to mark the company’s 125th anniversary, is a global initiative under which QBE Insurance provides charitable support through partnerships, donations and volunteering.

The Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation was recognised with the Advocacy Award for its commitment to funding research into the rare genetic condition that causes fatal brain damage. The Foundation was established in 2013 by Megan Donnell following the shock diagnosis of Sanfilippo Syndrome in both of her children – Isla and Jude –then aged just 2 and 4.

The Health Services Research Award went to the Australian and New Zealand Hip Fracture Registry, a web-based audit of hip fracture care and secondary fracture prevention, for its contribution to the significant improvement in healthcare.

Dr Avnika Ruparelia, an early career researcher in the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University, was awarded the Griffith University Discovery Award, for an outstanding contributions to the muscle disease field. Since starting her PhD in 2011 Avnika has explored the cause of muscle weakness in, and therapeutics for a group of late onset muscle disorders known as myofibrillar myopathies.