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Sir Macfarlane Burnet
, 1968

by Mark Strizic

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 25.0 cm x 34.9 cm)

Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet OM AK KBE (1899-1985), medical scientist, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1960 for his work with Sir Peter Medawar on acquired immunological tolerance to tissue transplants. Burnet had earlier worked with Jean Macnamara to prove that there were at least two viruses causing poliomyelitis, and had isolated the Q fever bacterium, Coxiella burnetti. Much of his research was carried out at Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, of which he was Assistant Director from 1928 to 1931 and Director from 1944 to 1965. Of all scientists carrying out the bulk of their investigations in Australia, Burnet remains the most honoured. In 1958 he became the first Australian to receive the Order of Merit. In 1960, the year he won the Nobel Prize, he was named Australia's inaugural Australian of the Year. In 1978 he was made a Knight of the Order of Australia, becoming one of only twelve men and two women to be appointed Knights and Dames of the Order before the title was abolished.

Australian of the Year 1960

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds provided by Sir Roderick Carnegie 2003
Accession number: 2003.132