Professor Fiona Russell wins prestigious Frank Fenner Award

On behalf of Melbourne Medical School we would like to offer our warm congratulations to Professor Fiona Russell, Department of Paediatrics, who has been named the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Frank Fenner Award for Advanced Research in the field of Global Childhood Infectious Diseases from the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases.

Professor Fiona Russell
Professor Fiona Russell

Professor Russell's outstanding contribution and technical expertise in child health and immunisation in resource poor settings have made her globally recognised in her field.

Her translational research in pneumococcal vaccinology and epidemiology has had major impact in international policy and practice in pneumococcal disease control which is likely to have a major positive impact on morbidity and mortality.

Awarded her PhD in 2010 by the University of Melbourne, Professor Russell established the first clinical trial in Fiji quickly establishing her profile in pneumococcal vaccinology and epidemiology in addition to child public health, and other “new” vaccines.

Her PhD resulted in 25 publications and three prestigious awards (Chancellor’s Prize Award 2012, Deans Prize 2012, Early in Career Public Health Award in Immunisation, Public Health Association of Australia) firmly cementing her place at the forefront of infectious disease research.

Professor Russell was appointed as a Level D, Principal Research Fellow just one year after completing her PhD.

Following on from her earlier research Professor Russell then setup new research field sites in Laos and Papua New Guinea, Mongolia and Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Professor Russell was able to secure government grants and developed her own independent research program primarily focused in pneumococcal disease control.

Her success in securing research funding has now resulted in over $25M from prestigious agencies including Gavi, WHO, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the NHMRC.

Professor Russell's outstanding, high quality research has clear translation impact and has established her as a preeminent global leader in pneumococcal disease control and vaccine implementation, particularly understanding transmission and developing novel methods to understand vaccine impact.

She is a member of the WHO pneumococcal conjugate vaccine expert advisory committee and has contributed health policies that have improved immunisation policies with respect to PCV, rotavirus and HPV vaccine introduction in poorer regions.

Professor Russell's pre-eminence in her field has been acknowledged with numerous honours such as the Young Investigator Award by the Royal Australian College of Physicians and shortlisting for the L'Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Australian & New Zealand Fellowship.

She is committed to excellence in teaching, research and service and has supported and mentored many research students and fellows to success.

Her influence in this field has set in motion the prevention and management of immunisable diseases which will reduce mortality rates into the future.

Her contributions will have influence through generations with many children now being vaccinated against diseases that would otherwise see them die or be debilitated long before their time.