Associate Professor Kamalini Lokuge OAM, HOSM

29 Sep 2021

It was the expertise I gained in public health control of high-risk pathogens like Ebola, Lassa and avian influenza... that was most useful in supporting Australia’s public health response.

Alumna of the Year

Associate Professor Kamalini Lokuge OAM, HOSM (MInltLaw '03, PhD '05) is our 2021 ANU Alumna of the Year for her significant contributions as an epidemiologist and expert in public health responses to humanitarian crises.

Kamalini has been at the forefront of tracking and halting disease outbreaks across the world. She has worked for international organisations like Médecins Sans Frontières, the World Health Organisation and the International Committee of the Red Cross over the past 25 years in a range of humanitarian emergencies.

Kamalini graduated from ANU with a Master of International Law and then a  PhD in Epidemiology and Population Health. She has advised the Federal and Western Australian governments, and the Victorian Government on their response to COVID-19 and is a member of Australia's National COVID-19 Health and Research Advisory Committee.

"It was the expertise I gained in public health control of high-risk pathogens like Ebola, Lassa and avian influenza in low-resource settings that was most useful in supporting Australia's public health response," says Kamalini.

Hailed as 'Australia's pandemic whisperer,' she coined the terms 'upstream and downstream contact tracing' - looking at who has become infected from a particular case but also how that case became infected.

Kamalini leads the ANU Humanitarian Health Research Initiative which works to improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations, including those affected by marginalisation, poverty, conflict, infectious diseases.

"I realised that to treat people and prevent them from getting sick in the first place, I needed to understand them, the context of their lives, and that of their families and communities," says Kamalini.

She was recognised for her achievements and international contributions with a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2010.

"ANU has been a big part of my life for the last two decades," says Kamalini. "I want to thank ANU and explain to a wider audience how the support I have received from ANU has been important to Australia - how critical the role of Australia's national university has been in our work, and how it requires that long-term vision of societal impact to be ready to respond to events such as COVID-19."

Read stories of all our awards recipients at 2021 ANU Alumni Awards

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