Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Vale Professor Emeritus Mary-Louise McLaws AO FRSN

Professor Emeritus Mary-Louise McLawsThe Society is deeply saddened at the passing of one of its Fellows, Professor Emeritus Mary-Louise McLaws AO FRSN, on 12 August 2023.

Mary-Louise McLaws, a renowned epidemiologist and expert in infection control at UNSW Sydney, came to public prominence as a trusted commentator and media adviser during the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time of considerable confusion and ignorance about the propagation of the virus and how to control it. As noted in the ABC’s article reporting her death, “Professor Mary-Louise McLaws became the most trusted, compassionate, and calming voice of reason in the lives of many Australians.”

During her career, she served as a World Health Organisation (WHO) advisor to China and helped with infection-control research in Cambodia, China, Bangladesh, Mali, Indonesia, Iran, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Turkey. She served as director of the Public Health Unit for the Sydney Southwest Area Health Service and was also a member of the WHO Health Emergencies Program Experts Advisory Panel for Infection Prevention and Control Preparedness, Readiness, and Response to COVID-19.

In January 2022, she was diagnosed with brain cancer, the announcement of which led to a major outpouring of public emotion and grief. In June of that year, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours “for distinguished service to medical research, particularly to epidemiology and infection prevention, to tertiary education, and to health administration.” In December 2022, UNSW celebrated her lifetime of achievements and 36 years of service to the University, with the Chancellor, Mr David Gonski AC FRSN, announcing the award of the title Professor Emeritus, and the establishment of the UNSW Mary-Louise McLaws AO Clinical Education Rooms—a new teaching and education space within the new Prince of Wales Acute Services Building.

To read more of the life of the late Professor Mary-Louise McLaws and her achievements, please see the articles on the ABC News website and the Sydney Morning Herald, amongst others.

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