Year Of Change And Development

Courtesy of Burnet Institute

A refreshed focus on Burnet’s purpose – to create and translate knowledge into better health, so no-one is left behind – and a new brand and visual identity were some of the highlights included in Burnet Institute’s 2023 Annual Report, presented at today’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).

In his director’s message, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said 2023 saw increased investment across several programs and initiatives including the Burnet Diagnostics Initiative, the Burnet Vaccine Initiative, and Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia.

“We established the Burnet Institute Environmental Committee to connect our environmental and climate stewardship with our work as a medical research institute and international NGO,” he said.

“Our team had some extraordinary successes, securing new grants, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and launching an array of promising new partnerships and collaborations.”

In her Chair’s message, Mary Padbury said Burnet had a crucial role to play in supporting the fundamental human right to good health, especially in times of crisis and trauma, and especially among the vulnerable and hard to reach.

“To meet our responsibilities, we must strive for excellence in the lab and in the field,” Ms Padbury said.

“Our strong financial position, independence, disciplinary integration of life sciences, public health and international development and translation of research outcomes helps make this possible.”

“In 2023, we took steps to further strengthen the Burnet executive team, with key appointments in Research Translation; International Operations; Gender Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; and Human Resources.”

A highlight of the AGM was the announcement of the recipient of 2023 Gust McKenzie Medal, awarded to Dr Julie Hennegan.

Dr Hennegan’s work focuses on menstrual health, sexual and reproductive health including rights, and gender dimensions of water, sanitation, and hygiene services. She has led and contributed to research across high- middle- and low-income country settings, with a focus on East Africa.

Named in honour of the founding directors of the Burnet and Austin Research Institutes, Professor Ian Gust AO and Emeritus Professor Ian McKenzie AM, the Gust-McKenzie Medal is awarded annually to an outstanding mid-career Burnet staff member in recognition of excellence in research.

Burnet’s achievements outlined in the 2023 Annual Report include:

  • 355 peer-reviewed publications
  • Competitive grants including A$15.98 million in NHMRC grants and fellowships
  • A record A$79.3 million spent on improving health for a more equitable world
  • The launch of SWEEP-TB in Daru, Papua New Guinea (PNG), a comprehensive community-wide screening program for tuberculosis, and referral to treatment or prevention.
  • The UK Fleming Fund’s commitment to extend the PNG Country Grant to tackle antimicrobial resistance
  • Our research on next generation vaccines against future coronaviruses and malaria
  • Major work in improving maternal and child health, including research on drug candidates to prevent and manage preterm birth
  • Burnet Diagnostics Initiative achieving ISO 9001 accreditation, a major milestone
  • The signing of a research licence and option agreement with argenx for Stellabody® technology
  • Progress on the Australian Institute for Infectious Disease (AIID), with the announcement of its future location and building design

Professor Crabb thanked Burnet’s staff, partners, donors and supporters and acknowledged their outstanding work across disciplines and borders throughout 2023.

“I am proud of the progress we have made over the past 12 months, and excited to see our ideas and innovations contributing to the fundamental goal of a healthier and more equitable world in the year ahead,” he said.

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