Pioneering melanoma researchers named 2024 Australian of the Year


The contributions of dozens of Australian clinicians and researchers have been celebrated in the Australia Day 2024 Honours List, with two University of Sydney Professors named Australian of the Year.

The 2024 Australian of the Year award recognises the partnership between University of Sydney Professors Georgina Long AO and Richard Scolyer AO, co-medical directors of the Melanoma Institute Australia in New South Wales, which has saved thousands of lives from melanoma. 

Professors Long and Scolyer’s scientific partnership has led to the use of immunotherapy in the treatment of melanoma, in turn making advanced melanoma, which was formerly a death sentence, a curable disease.

In June 2023, when Professor Scolyer was diagnosed with incurable grade four brain cancer, he and Professor Long developed a series of world-first treatments based on their melanoma breakthroughs. Professor Scolyer became the world’s first brain cancer patient to delay having his tumour removed to receive pre-surgery combination immunotherapy. By undertaking an experimental treatment with the risk of shortening his life, he has advanced the understanding of brain cancer and is benefiting future patients. 

Accompanying the Sydney-based Professors on the Australia Day 2024 Honours List are nine researchers and clinicians appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to medical research and/or health innovation and 22 individuals who were awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

AusBiotech heartily congratulates all recipients, including those appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO):

  • Plastic surgeon and burns specialist, Orthocell Board member and Telethon Kids Institute’s Winthrop Professor Fiona Wood AM (WA), for her distinguished service to plastic and reconstructive surgery, to medical research, and as clinician-scientist and mentor;
  • The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre’s Professor Joseph Trapani (VIC), for his distinguished service to medical research, particularly immunology and the development of immune-based cancer therapies, and to the community.
  • The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute’s Professor Sally Lewers (NSW), for distinguished service to medical research as an embryologist and geneticist, particularly in the field of foetal and neonatal heart disease.
  • His Honour Professor the Honourable Hugh Crosby Heggie (NT), for distinguished service to medicine and medical research organisations and as Administrator of the Northern Territory;
  • Biomedical engineer Dr Graham Grant (NSW), for distinguished service to biomedical engineering as a pioneer of innovative equipment development, and to medicine;
  • The University of Sydney’s Professor Julie-Anne Leask (NSW), for distinguished service to health and medical research, to policy advice, and to enhancing community understanding of immunisation;
  • The late Dr Peter Maher (VIC), for distinguished service to gynaecological medicine, to medical research and education, and to professional societies;
  • The University of Adelaide’s Professor Sarah Robertson (SA), for distinguished service to medical research, particularly reproductive biology and immunology, and to professional societies; and
  • The University of Sydney’s Professor Ian Hickie AM (NSW), for distinguished service to psychiatric research and reforms as an advocate for improved mental health care and awareness

See the full list of Honours here.