Last night I was invited to a Public Lecture at Melbourne Uni. Since I’ve recently moved into downtown Melbourne’s CBD I went along.

It was in a stylish and modern lecture theatre in The Spot in the School of Economics and it was just a pleasant 5-minute stroll from my new apartment.

This Dean’s Lecture was by visiting Nobel Judge, Professor Erling Norrby MD PhD, who was Professor of Virology and Chairman at the Royal Karolinska Institute for 25 years.

Professor Norrby was deeply involved in judging Nobel prizes in Physiology and Medicine for 20 years. He’s currently Vice-Chairman of the Board of the J Craig Venter Institute and Lord Chamberlain-in-Waiting at the Royal Swedish Court.

He showed us how they decided who was ‘prize-worthy’ and it was a real eye-opener. They are not only rigorous in Sweden but also very clever. I got some useful tips for the future development of our own award for the Australian Thinker of the Year.

In particular he explained the spectacular advances in immunology following the 1960 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine to Sir Macfarlane Burnet and Peter Medawar and the achievements in the global control of infectious diseases was also discussed. He described Burnet as one of the great ‘scientific giants’ since the prize began in 1901.

The evening also honoured Australian “Mr Measles”, Emeritus Professor Derek Denton, who was there with his wife Dame Margaret Scott. His work is ridding the world of measles and so he’s saving a million babies a year. (How come we all know about Paris Hilton but we don’t know about this guy? I think the media needs to lift its game and get some perspective).

The evening was a science name-dropper’s paradise. All the biggies were there. I was able to present my guest to Professor Roger Short FRS, one of my science heroes and Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty; Prof Suzanne Cory, Pres of the Australian Academy of Science; and many of the big names in Australian Science. Then we all stood for the entrance of the Victorian viceroy.

Sundry luminaries like former Prime Minister, The Hon Malcolm Fraser and Science Minister The Hon Barry Jones were there, too, with a tribe of faculty and students from across the campus. Have I left anyone out?

After the mandatory post-lecture sherry and cheese we hopped on the tram for a couple of stops to our favourite little home-cooking cucina in Carlton for some pasta, cotolletta, panna cotta and grappa. I was home and watching telly in bed by 9. What’s not to love about life in Melbourne’s CBD!

2 thoughts on “Life in the big Southern city!

  1. Hi Michael,

    Despite all the rivalry over the years a lot of us Sydneysiders secretly love the “Big Southern City”. My wife would move there in an instant.

    Now to your question – “Have I left anyone out?” Well if Professor Vicki Sara wasn’t there then she should have been. Professor Sara is currently the Chancellor of the University of Technology Sydney(UTS)- my alma mater.She is a brilliant scientist and administrator.An endocrinologist – she spent 17 years at the Karolinska Institute.

    I saw the name Barry Jones in your post and immediately went to my office to find my copy of “Sleepers, Wake!”. It’s hard to believe this book is 30 years old. Still worth a read.

  2. What’s not to love about Melbourne CBD. Well, while I agree Melbourne is the cultural center of Australia. Compared to this unit in Brisbane’s CBD” it’s as cold as charity”.
    Sorry Michael just couldn’t stop myself.

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