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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Dame Jean Macnamara

c. 1930
Donovan

gelatin silver photograph on paper (20.0 cm x 14.4 cm)

Dame Jean Macnamara DBE (1899–1968), medical doctor and scientist, was involved in crucial research into poliomyelitis during the 1920s and 1930s. After graduating in medicine from the University of Melbourne, she was appointed resident medical officer at the Royal Children's Hospital and began to specialise in the treatment of polio. Awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Travelling Scholarship, between 1931 and 1933 she studied in the USA, Canada and England. Returning to Melbourne, she worked at the Children's Hospital and at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and was honorary medical officer to the physiotherapy department of the Royal Children’s Hospital from 1928 to 1951. From the early 1930s, Macnamara campaigned for the introduction to Australia of the myxoma virus. In the face of commercial opposition, she maintained that if the country was to be left with any topsoil, the rabbit must be eradicated. Myxomatosis struck in the late 1950, and a year later rabbit numbers were so reduced that the national wool cheque was said to have increased by £30 million.

In the early 1930s, Macnamara's work with Frank Macfarlane Burnet led to the identification of multiple strains of the polio virus and proved pivotal in the development of the Salk vaccine. This studio photograph of Macnamara was taken around that time and captures a strong, determined woman at the peak of her career.

Gift of Merran Samuel (nee Connor) 2004. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Donovan

Dame Jean MacNamara DBE (age 31 in 1930)

Donated by

Merran Samuel (1 portrait)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency