19 June 2013

Nobel Award-winning scientist, Laureate Professor and UQ Alumni Peter Doherty returned to his alma mater this week to highlight the importance of philanthropy with guests at the annual Peter Goodenough Memorial Lecture.

Hosted by the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) on Tuesday June 18, Professor Doherty shared with invited guests insights into his work with immunity and killer viruses, and the invaluable role philanthropy plays in combating infections.

“Philanthropies like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provide massive resources to combat infections (malaria, TB, HIV) that are prominent in the developing world,” he said.

Professor Doherty’s science is focused on immunity to killer viruses that spread from wildlife to humans such as Swine Flu and Hendra, and the pandemics that ensue.

“When it comes to basic research on immunity, cancer, degenerative neurological diseases and so forth, tax dollar supported research is vital, but it is never enough,” he said.

“Philanthropy allows a flexibility that federal or state granting mechanism can never allow.
I’ll tell you a little about that and how it works.”

Professor Doherty is one of only 11 Australian Nobel Laureates, and received the award in 1996 for his work discovering how the immune system recognises virus-infected cells.

He was named the 1997 Australian of the Year and in 2007 he was declared a member of Australia's 100 Living National Treasures.

The Peter Goodenough Memorial Lecture

This annual lecture is named in honour of the late Mr Peter Goodenough (1936 – 2004), a QBI benefactor, whose personal battle with motor neuron disease (MND) led to an inspirational bequest for fundamental scientific research. These funds have primarily been used to establish, staff and support the Peter Goodenough and Wantoks Research Laboratory. Completed in November 2007, this laboratory is home to QBI’s Molecular Genetics of Human Disease team. It is a showcase example of how members of the community can make a powerful and lasting contribution to the future health of all Australians. Mr Goodenough resolved to ensure his personal wealth would be directed to fighting MND, even though he knew he would personally not benefit from the research.