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Dame Jean Macnamara, c. 1930


gelatin silver photograph

Dame Jean Macnamara DBE (1899-1968) was a doctor and scientific researcher. Her work with Macfarlane Burnet in identifying multiple strains of polio proved pivotal in the development of the Salk vaccine. She was honorary medical officer to the physiotherapy department of the Royal Children's Hospital from 1928 to 1951, and for her work with children she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1935. 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 late 1950, and a year later rabbit numbers were so reduced that the national wool cheque was said to have increased by £30 million.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Merran Samuel (nee Connor) 2004
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2004.164

Currently on display: Gallery Four (Liangis Gallery)

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Artist and subject


Dame Jean MacNamara (age 31 in 1930)

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