Humanity’s ongoing battle with infectious disease

The Australian National University and ACT Branch of the Order of Australia Association are pleased to present The 2023 Order of Australia Association - The Australian National University lecture.

Professor Kiaran Kirk AM will deliver this year's keynote on Humanity's ongoing battle with infectious disease.

For most of humanity's history, infectious disease has been an expected cause of death. Microscopic pathogens - viruses, bacteria, parasites - cause a range of diseases, many of them potentially fatal. The development of vaccines, and of antimicrobial drugs, has been a triumph of medical science in which the ANU has played a significant role. And yet vaccine-resistant and drug-resistant pathogens are continually emerging, necessitating the ongoing development of new vaccines, new drugs.

In his address Professor Kirk reflects on the contribution ANU has made, and continues to make, to the development of measures to prevent and treat infectious diseases, including bacterial infection, viral diseases such as smallpox, and the parasitic disease, malaria.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt will be opening the event followed by a Q&A session with Professor Kirk which will be facilitated by Mr Andrew Phelan who will also deliver the vote of thanks.

A post-event reception will be organised in The Gallery, Kambri Cultural Centre from 7-8pm.

About the speakers

Professor Kiaran Kirk is Dean of ANU College of Science. After completing his PhD at the University of Sydney in 1988 he worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Oxford before returning to Australia in 1996 to head the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the ANU Faculty of Science.  From 2009 to 2014 he was the Director of the newly-formed ANU Research School of Biology in the College of Science, and since 2014 he has served as College Dean.

Kiaran's research has focused primarily on the biology of the malaria parasite, and on antimalarial drugs.  He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (FAHMS) in 2017 and appointed Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2023 Australia Day Honours.  In addition to his ANU role Kiaran is the Chair of the Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide, and Chairs the Board of Clonakilla Wines, a family-owned winery in the Canberra District.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian P. Schmidt AC FAA FRS was appointed as the 12th Vice-Chancellor of ANU in January 2016 and was winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. Professor Schmidt makes a significant contribution to public debate through the media, and via his membership of bodies including the Prime Minister's National Science and Technology Council.

Mr Andrew Michael Phelan AM is the Chair of the ACT Branch of the Order of Australia Association and was the Chief Executive & Principal Registrar of the High Court of Australia from 2007 until his retirement in 2018. In the two decades prior to his appointment to that office, Andrew held numerous Commonwealth senior executive law enforcement, court administrative, legal, international and general management positions. Mr Phelan was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to judicial administration in the 2019 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

The Order of Australia Lecture

The annual Order of Australia Association - The Australian National University Lecture was established in 2010 with the aim of further recognising the contribution made by academic members of the Order of Australia to the fabric of Australian society. Now in its 14th year, the lecture has seen distinguished scholars covering topics on national security, first nations issues, sciences, and the arts amongst others.


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Date and Times


Room: T2 Lecture theatre


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