Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Great Australians you’ve never heard of

Peter Baume   Lecture 2

   “The man from Ballarat
     who injected himself
     with the myxoma virus”

   The Honourable Em Prof Peter Baume AC

Monday 23 July 2018
Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney

The Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts — the two oldest institutions in NSW dedicated to education — are proud to present a collaborative lecture program, Great Australians You’ve Never Heard Of.

The Great Australian featured in this lecture was born in Ballarat, and then grew up in South Australia. During WWII, he helped Australia to win the War in the Pacific. After the war, when there was public concern about myxomatosis, he and two other scientists injected themselves with myxoma virus to prove that it did not affect humans. He also chaired the group that eliminated an infectious disease from the world—the first and only time this has been done. In recognition of this he received many international awards, and much international recognition. As an old man he was a beloved figure in academe, and is still held high regard by those in his trade.

Peter Baume was Professor of Community Medicine and Head of the School of Community Medicine at University of New South Wales from 1991 to 2000. He was a Senator for New South Wales between 1974 and 1991, and was successively Government Whip, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister Assisting the Minister for National Development and Energy, Minister for Health, Minister for Education, and a Minister in Cabinet. He was Chancellor of the Australian National University from 1994-2006, was Foundation Chair of the Australian Sports Drug Agency, a Commissioner of the Australian Law Reform Commission, Deputy-Chair of the Australian National Council on AIDS, President of the Public Health Association (NSW Branch), Patron of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of NSW and of its successor body Dying with Dignity NSW. He was the Chairman of the Alzheimer’s Association in NSW (he remains a Director) and was Chairman of the Kolling Institute for Medical Research. He has been an Official Visitor to psychiatric hospitals and a member of the Official Visitors’ Advisory Committee. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales. He is a physician who holds a doctorate, two honorary doctorates, and several fellowships and is a Companion in the Order of Australia (having previously been an Officer of the same Order). He has published extensively, reviews for a number of journals and has received a number of competitive grants.

About the Great Australians You’ve Never Heard Of lecture series

Over the course of four lectures, we will share the fascinating stories of some remarkable Australians who have helped create the extraordinary society we live in, but have not received the recognition they deserve. Neither is the context of their contributions understood by the beneficiaries of their initiatives. This series sets about identifying some of those people.

Other lectures in the series

22 June 2018 — Thomas Keneally DistFRSN
6 September 2018 — Emeritus Professor D. Brynn Hibbert AM FRSN
12 November 2018 — Alison Bashford FRSN

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