Prof Deborah Williamson wins prestigious Eureka Prize

Researcher joins Infectious Disease experts to receive leading science award for work in the field of sexually transmitted infections.

Professor Deborah Williamson, whose work whilst in Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, has won a 2022 Australian Museum Eureka Prize. This work is an example of cross-institutional collaboration and involved VIDRL, DID, DMI & RMH.

The accolade is considered a leading science award honouring excellence across research and innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science.

Prof Williamson was joined by University of Melbourne Professor Jane Hocking, Monash University’s Associate Professor Eric Chow and Professor Christopher Fairley, Professor Catriona Bradshaw and Professor Marcus Chen, in being recognised globally as the top-ranked most active researchers in the field of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The team’s research has changed Australian and international chlamydia and Mycoplasma genitalium treatment guidelines; pioneered the implementation of resistance-guided therapy for Mycoplasma genitalium; produced ground-breaking, world-first studies integrating genomic and epidemiologic data to help understand the epidemiology of STIs; and made new discoveries, establishing saliva as playing a key role in the transmission of gonorrhoea leading to an innovative mouthwash intervention to reduce transmission.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to work with some of Australia’s leading clinician-scientists and researchers in infectious diseases,” Professor Williamson said.

“It is an honour for our enduring collaboration to be recognised with such a prestigious award, and demonstrates the importance of strong, multidisciplinary research to tackle major public health problems.”

Prof Williamson is also a member of the Royal College of Physicians and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and has held leadership roles across in Parkville Precinct in clinical and public health microbiology, including as the Deputy Director of MDU PHL and Director of Microbiology at RMH before becoming the Director of VIDRL in 2021.

She is a current co-chair of the Communicable Diseases Genomics Network of Australia, a member of the Public Health Laboratory Network of Australia, an NHMRC Investigator Grant Fellow, and a Dame Kate Campbell Fellow.

The  Eureka Prize adds to Prof Williamson research awards, including the University of Auckland Vice Chancellor’s Prize for best Doctoral Thesis (2016), a L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship (2017), and she was awarded the 2020 Frank Fenner Award for research by the Australian Society for Infectious Diseases.

Learn more