• Sara Sarraf, David Townsend, Geraint Schmidt and Haydn Dodds

    Sara Sarraf, David Townsend, Geraint Schmidt and Haydn Dodds

  • Yadi Ranjear, Zeinab Fazlali and Hamish Dean

    Yadi Ranjear, Zeinab Fazlali and Hamish Dean

  • Yeping Cai, Johanna Dups, Hayley McNamara, Anne Bruestle and Mayura Wagle

    Yeping Cai, Johanna Dups, Hayley McNamara, Anne Bruestle and Mayura Wagle

  • Angela Zhou and Jerry Li

    Angela Zhou and Jerry Li

  • Carola Vinuesa, Hilary Warren, Aart Groothuis and sue and James Elsbury

    Carola Vinuesa, Hilary Warren, Aart Groothuis and sue and James Elsbury

  • Professor Rolf Zinkernagel and Cam Webber

    Professor Rolf Zinkernagel and Cam Webber

  • Andrew Hapel and Professor Rolf Zinkernagel

    Andrew Hapel and Professor Rolf Zinkernagel

  • Mary Hapel, Cam and Joanna Webber and Emily Campbell

    Mary Hapel, Cam and Joanna Webber and Emily Campbell

  • Hao Yang, Rina Soetanto and Jack Simpson

    Hao Yang, Rina Soetanto and Jack Simpson

  • Ines Atmosukarto and Nicola Maclennan

    Ines Atmosukarto and Nicola Maclennan

  • Professor Chris Parish and Professor Rolf Zinkernagel

    Professor Chris Parish and Professor Rolf Zinkernagel

Rolf Zinkernagel - Curtin Medal

25 August 2014

Rolf Zinkernagel is a treasure. A Nobel Laureate, a family man and a gardener with his delphiniums that bloomed in June in his Swiss veggie patch popping up during his lecture at the John Curtin School of Medical Research to alert and surprise his audience so too the family photos with three kids and seven grandchildren smiling in the bucolic Swiss countryside.  He probably keeps chooks as well but what he has done for immunology makes him the go to scientist when the never ending arguments from a vocal minority rabbit on against vaccinations. The difference you wonder? Vaccination is injected to stimulate your immune system to recognise the disease and protect you from future infections.

Bring on Rolf I say. He believes scientists should be better at communicating to the general public about their work and starting where mankind has gained immeasurable benefit might be the way to explain the benefits of immunization, and the importance of revaccinating as the years roll by. And he’s the expert!

The lecture at the JCSMR where Zinkernagel studied for his PhD in the early seventies followed his receipt of the prestigious Curtin Medal from Director of the JCSMR and current Canberran of the Year Professor Chris Parish. Zinkernagel joked that at home in Switzerland cows are the usual recipients of awards before he answered the topic “Why don’t we have a vaccine against HIV or TB” ……yet, he added but PC is not his preferred position so he wasn’t bothered about the yet. But both are still a work in progress.

And where to from here I wondered? Research of course, education absolutely and make available and compulsory vaccinations, especially to mums to pass on at birth- that’s when their immune system provides for their baby - the best cocktail of prevention known to mankind.