Professor Emeritus Ian Gust AO

Citation for the Award of Doctor of Medical Science (Honoris Causa)

Professor Ian Gust decided on a career in medical research at the age of sixteen. Convinced that it would open up possibilities, he first completed a medical degree at the University of Melbourne and then, intrigued by the prospect that: ‘if you were smart enough, or lucky enough, you might be able to do something which benefited large numbers of people’, he embarked upon a research career in the then unconventional area of virology. Nearly fifty years later, his ambition to benefit large numbers of people realised in many ways, Ian Gust remains captivated by, dedicated to and prolific in his accomplishments in the field of virology.

Taking advice that training in a fast-evolving specialty would require broad education, he designed and pursued this by training in pathology at Fairfield Hospital for Infectious Diseases, studying for the Dip Bact at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and taking up a World Health Organization Fellowship to work at the Regional Virus Laboratory in Glasgow, before returning to Fairfield Hospital as Medical Virologist.

Ian Gust’s distinguished research and perceptive grasp of the global implications of his and others’ research has improved the health of populations and the lives of countless individuals. His work on the development of vaccines against Hepatitis A, which he readily and generously shares credit for with his team, made an outstanding contribution to knowledge of virology.

While at Fairfield Hospital he established and led a medical research centre under the patronage of Macfarlane Burnet – just in time to deal with the unfolding HIV/AIDS crisis during the early 1980s. With Ian Gust coordinating the cooperation of blood banks and testing laboratories, Australia became the first country in the world to supply integrated HIV testing of blood and blood products and to oversee the blood service through a national AIDS reference laboratory. As Chief Commonwealth Medical and Scientific Adviser on AIDS, he played a pivotal role in the development and implementation of Australia’s public health response to the AIDS crisis that unfolded as the science explaining the virus became clear.

His masterminding of the evolution of the Fairfield Medical Research Centre into the Macfarlane Burnet Centre for Medical Research (now the Burnet Institute) generated an important new institute that continues to make important contributions to scientific knowledge and improvements in human health. Then, as Head of Research and Development at CSL Ltd for ten years, he was closely involved in the transformation and successful expansion of what was a small, locally focused government enterprise into a major publicly listed company which operates worldwide and is a global leader in its field.

In addition to his research leadership, Ian Gust has provided scientific or governance advice to a large number of organisations in both the public and private sectors. He has been deeply involved with the World Health Organisation since 1975 and has long associations advising and consulting on Hepatitis, AIDS, Influenza and Vaccine development and utilization the world over.

With a long, and growing, list of invited lectures and orations, books, chapters, reports, papers, and awards to his name, Ian Gust continues to have a profound impact on the world’s scientific and health communities. His eminent contributions to scientific knowledge and to ensuring the global impact of discovery, are experienced the world over.