header Share your stories and
follow the campaign on:

Support the campaign:


Australia's research successes

Children's health

Australian researchers including Dr Susan Beal and Professor Terry Dwyer demonstrated the link between a baby’s sleeping position and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Professor Fiona Stanley identified the importance of a mother’s folic acid intake in preventing serious birth defects such as spina bifida.

Immune cells

Immune system and vaccines

Immunology research, including that of Australian Nobel Laureates Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Professor Peter Doherty, has changed scientists’ basic understanding of the function of the immune system, as well as the way infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases are diagnosed and treated.

These findings underpinned Australian Professor Ian Frazer’s development of the Gardasil vaccine, which protects against the cervical cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV).

Infectious diseases

Microbiological research has changed the way infectious diseases are treated. In 1939, Australian Nobel Laureate Sir Howard Florey developed the first antibiotic, penicillin, for use in humans. This breakthrough is estimated to have saved more than 200 million lives.

Western Australian researchers Professor Barry Marshall and Professor Robin Warren, also Nobel Laureates, discovered that the Helicobacter pylori bacterium is linked to most stomach ulcers and stomach cancer, allowing a new era of treatment and prevention of these conditions.

Professor Don Metcalf


Australian scientists have made many advances in our understanding of cancer, and developed treatments that have saved the lives of millions of patients worldwide.

In the 1940s, childhood leukaemia was considered incurable with many doctors believing that palliative care was the only treatment option. Melbourne paediatrician Dr John Colebatch dared to hope for a cure and in 1948 conducted the world’s first controlled clinical trial of the use of chemotherapy to treat children with leukaemia. The success of this trial inspired other researchers. Today 75 per cent of children with leukaemia can be cured.

The 1960s discovery of colony stimulating factors (CSFs) by Professor Don Metcalf has profoundly changed the practice of bone marrow transplantation and leukaemia treatment. CSFs have improved quality of life for over 10 million cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Medical technology

Technological advances have also brought great health benefits. The development of the ‘Bionic Ear’ cochlear implant by Professor Graeme Clark has given the gift of hearing to more than 180,000 people. Australian research is also responsible for the development of the first heart pacemaker, the humidicrib for premature babies (by brothers Edward and Don Both in Tasmania in the late 1930s), medical ultrasound (by David Robinson and George Kossoff in 1961) and other technologies.

Australian medical researchers continue to make discoveries that will improve healthcare in the future. Read some of their stories and the hopes of patients.