Gust-McKenzie Medal to Associate Professor Leanne Robinson

Image: Associate Professor Leanne Robinson (Credit: Mayeta Clark)

Associate Professor Leanne Robinson, one of Australia’s leading vector-borne diseases researchers is Burnet Institute’s Gust-McKenzie Medallist for 2020.

Associate Professor Robinson was presented with her award at a special online ceremony along with the winners of three other prestigious Burnet awards – the Gust-Translational Fellowship to Dr Jo-Anne Chan, the Jim and Margaret Beever Fellowship, awarded jointly this year to Dr Hayley Bullen and Dr Joshua Hayward, and the Harold Mitchell Postdoctoral award to Dr Angela Davis.

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

Associate Professor Robinson’s Burnet roles include Co-Program Director, Health Security; Principal Research Fellow; and Group Leader, Vector Borne Diseases and Tropical Health.

She’s the Principal Investigator on Burnet’s STRIVE PNG project to enable the implementation of rapid-response strategies for surveillance of malaria and other vector-borne diseases in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and assess the feasibility, acceptability and financing of new policy options for stronger national surveillance and systems support.

In her presentation, Associate Professor Robinson outlined the ongoing challenges posed by malaria – reflected in data showing there were 3 billion people globally at risk, 228 million clinical attacks, and 405,000 deaths from malaria in 2018 – and highlighted her innovative research projects including NatNat and STRIVE.

“For all of us, it is through hard work, self belief and aptitude to create, maximise and multiply opportunities that we realise our potential,” Associate Professor Robinson said. “In accepting this award today, I really encourage all of you to continuously find ways to create and enhance opportunities for others.”

With more than 15 years of experience in the sector, Associate Professor Robinson is a recognised expert in malaria epidemiology and implementation research for the control and elimination of malaria and neglected tropical diseases.

She leads a highly collaborative and inter-disciplinary research program, with strong links to disease control programs.

Associate Professor Robinson spent 10 years living and working in PNG, holding a range of positions whilst on secondment to the PNG Institute of Medical Research.

She prioritises strengthening the capacity of researchers and health workers in endemic countries and creating opportunities for masters and PhD training.

Associate Professor Robinson was awarded the 2019 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research, and the Gust Translational Fellowship in 2018.

Established with a gift to the Institute by Professor Gust and his wife Dr Diane Long, the Gust Translational Fellowship is a competitive award in support of translational research activities at the Institute specifically targeted at early career researchers.

The Jim and Margaret Beever Fellowship is awarded to outstanding early career researchers in infectious diseases at the Institute to help retain and develop the talents of our bright young scientists.

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