GRIDD Director honoured with Wunderly Oration Medal

Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery’s (GRIDD) Director Professor Jennifer Martin is the second woman to receive the prestigiousWunderly Oration Medal in its 27 year history for her work promoting women in science.

Professor Martin was awarded the medal when she delivered the oration at the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) Annual Scientific Meeting in Canberra this week.

Professor Martin wasinvited to speak at TSANZ on the value of gender equity in scientific research globally.

The Wunderly Oration honours the memory of Sir Harry Wyatt Wunderly, the first Commonwealth Director of Tuberculosis, and has been presented at TSANZ meetings since 1988.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be the 2017 Wunderly Orator and to be recognised outside my own field for my achievements,” Professor Martin said.

Professor Jennifer Martin in the lab with her staff. Credit: Desley Pitcher

Notably, GRIDD (formerly the Eskitis Institute) has a female director and four of its six member leadership team are women.

GRIDD is a Griffith University champion of gender equity in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine), ensuring women are best positioned to reach their full potential.

Professor Martin was a founding member of the Australian Academy of Science “Science in Australia Gender Equity” steering committee that implemented a national pilot of the UK Athena SWAN Charter (including 30 Universities).

She is also a member of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Women in Health Sciences Committee, and a strong and vocal advocate for gender equity in STEMM.

GRIDD tackles devastating diseases through new drug discovery, using the unique Compounds Australia and Nature Bank resources, and an extensive global network of partners.

GRIDD is also the home of Australian of the Year 2017 Professor Emeritus Alan Mackay-Sim, who conducted a clinical trial showing transplantation of nasal cells into the human spinal cord was possible and safe in people. His work towards new treatments for spinal cord injury repair is being continued by Dr James St John in the Clem Jones Centre for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research within GRIDD.

The Athena SWAN Charter began in the UK in 2005, with 10 organisations signed up including the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. A major goal is to promote women in STEMM, particularly with a view to increasing the proportion of women in leadership roles.

Harry Wyatt Wunderly (1892-1971) developed tuberculosis as amedical student and his father died of the disease 20years earlier. Though he recovered, his disease relapsed in later years. Like other affected physicians of the time, his experiences led him to develop an intense interest in the disease.

After the war, he persuaded the Commonwealth Government to enter into a tuberculosis eradication program with the States and became its Director in 1948. This campaign led to the virtual elimination of tuberculosis as a public health problem in Australia.

Professor Jenny Martin with her award.