WEHI director Professor Doug Hilton has been named 2020 Melburnian of the Year for his leadership in the medical research sector and contribution to the Melbourne community.
The award is the City of Melbourne’s highest accolade. The 2020 Melbourne Awards recognise people who had demonstrated acts of kindness, integrity and community spirit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professor Hilton said he was humbled to receive the award, which he said was a reflection of the entire WEHI team and the scientific community more broadly.
“WEHI was Melbourne’s first medical research institute and, in the 105 years since it was established, has continued to play a vital role in responding to community need,” he said.
“I’m proud to see how our researchers have rallied together, not only within WEHI but also with our partners around Melbourne and Australia, to respond to this public health challenge. We are working more collaboratively than ever before and with an incredible generosity of spirit to deliver benefit to the community.
“This year has challenged us in every respect. The staff and students at WEHI have been fantastic throughout the process and I’m incredibly proud to lead an organisation filled with such amazing people,” he said.
He said the WEHI research community continued to move forward with its COVID-19 research and would do so for the months and years ahead.
“We have research teams working to understand the biology of the virus and the immune response to the virus, to test existing therapies and develop new therapies to fight this novel virus. This work will help us combat not only this pandemic but other pandemics that may arise in the future.
“As someone who has spent most of my life living and working in Melbourne, I’m really proud of how we have gotten through such a difficult period and how we have supported one another during this time.”
Professor Hilton grew up and went to school and university in Melbourne. He has been a medical researcher at WEHI for 35 years and director since 2009.
“It’s a great privilege, as WEHI director, to be able to bring together the brightest minds from around the world who are collaborating and innovating to help people live healthier for longer. Melbourne is an internationally recognised and vibrant hub of biomedical research, and it’s wonderful that the City of Melbourne recognises and supports our amazing researchers,” he said.
“I’m humbled to receive this award and look forward to sharing this occasion with family, friends and my WEHI colleagues.”
On behalf of WEHI, and its staff, students and supporters, we congratulate Professor Hilton on this award.
The award recipients were announced by the City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp during a special broadcast on Channel 9.