Medical trailblazers make Queen’s honours

Australian scientist Professor Peter Malcolm Colman loves watching the beauty and complexity of cells under the microscope, so much so, he’s dedicated his life to medical research.


His passion and keen eye was key to the development of the flu-fighting drug Relenza – hailed by some as “one of the greatest developments of the 20th century”.

For the Adelaide-born structural biologist, determining the structure of the influenza virus neuraminidase was also one of the “greatest moments” in his life.

“We were really able to watch the virus in the test tube. So a special and lucky moment in my career, ” Prof Colman told AAP.

For the past 20 years at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Prof Colman has been investigating cell death in the hope of finding a cure for cancer.

In recognition of his service to medical research, the Adelaide-born structural biologist has on Monday been made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).

The former chief of the Biomolecular Engineering department at the CSIRO, Prof Colman says he’s both surprised and honoured “and very grateful” to those who put his name forward.

He’s also pleased the value of science has been recognised through his award.

“At a time when science is a little bit under threat that can only be a good thing, even if a small thing,” Professor Colman said.

Just as humble, Sydney doctor Professor Gordian Ward Fulde has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his service to emergency medicine.

The Director of Emergency Medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital since 1984, Prof Fulde says he’s elated to be recognised, although can’t figure out “why me”.

A big supporter of Sydney’s lockout laws, he’s also been recognised for his campaigning to reduce alcohol-related violence across the city.

As the son of doctor parents, Professor Fulde always wanted to be a surgeon and says being able to help people in pain and often at the brink of death is what has kept him in the role for more than 30 years.

“I can’t think of much else that would be more rewarding,” he said.