Professor Graham Vallancey Brown AM

Citation for the Award of the Brownless Medal

Graham Brown’s exceptional commitment to global health and the University of Melbourne has been demonstrated throughout his long and distinguished career. He is an exemplar medical practitioner and teacher, medical researcher and research supervisor, and international leader and advocate for global health. Soon after graduating MBBS with first class honours in Medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1970, Graham looked to practise medicine where he might do the most good: first taking up an appointment with the Public Health Department of Papua New Guinea, then lecturing at the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, before returning to Melbourne in 1978, to pursue research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. His life’s work since has woven these three threads of teaching, research and practice through a career that reflects impressively on the reputation of the Melbourne Medical School.

As Head of the Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, as James Stewart Professor of Medicine, and as Director of the Nossal Institute for Global Health, Graham Brown’s leadership, characterised by clear vision, supreme ethical standards and instinctive curiosity, has earned him universal admiration and respect, and greatly advanced the Melbourne Medical School’s reputation for excellence in clinical teaching and research in adult medicine broadly, as well as in his disciplines of infectious diseases and global health.

His research, which achieves breadth without sacrificing depth, covers investigations into the cellular biology of malaria, immunity and vaccine development, infectious diseases of travellers, and public and global health. His research achievements include investigation of antigens stimulating immunity to malaria in man, and membership of the team developing the vaccine candidates and the first clinical trials of P.falciparum antigens expressed in E.coli. He has also made substantial contributions to understanding antigenic variation in malaria, and of the pathogenesis of malaria in pregnant women. His published works, including over 200 scientific papers, have been cited widely and often. He is an excellent ambassador for the University and his frequent invitations to speak at major international conferences, and his service on multiple national and international advisory committees (including Chairmanship of the WHO Malaria Vaccine Advisory Committee, and current Chairmanship of the Executive Committee of the Roll Back Malaria partnership) are evidence of the global recognition of his expertise, authority and productivity.

The value of Graham Brown’s contribution to medical science and practice is amplified by his commitment to education. In addition to many years’ teaching and examining undergraduate medical students, Graham has supervised 30 trainee specialists and more than 20 research higher degree candidates – many of whom are now leading clinician scientists and researchers. Graham Brown was championing global health long before it was accepted as a distinct discipline, and has been instrumental in bringing its study to the University of Melbourne. He provided outstanding service to the University and Medical School over three decades, including in key leadership roles which have helped shaped the research and teaching agenda of the school. He has made many, varied contributions to health the world over by providing advice to many research and health initiatives, by demonstrating the value of strong collaborations, by serving his profession, by generating new scientific knowledge, by training generations of doctors and researchers, and by his resolve to engage in public and professional ethical debate.

The award of the Brownless Medal is proposed in recognition of a career of exceptional service to the Melbourne Medical School and a man whose lifelong commitment to his personal motto ‘Live simply so that others may simply live’ stands as an inspiration to all.