The Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser AC, has presented WEHIs Professor Donald Metcalf with a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.
The award is presented annually to "an individual who has made an outstanding contribution nationally and internationally to human health and well being."
Professor Metcalf and his colleagues at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute discovered the Colony Stimulating Factors (CSFs), proteins that control white blood cell formation and that are responsible for a persons resistance to infection.
One of the unfortunate side effects of cancer therapy can be the near destruction of the white blood cells, which leaves recuperating patients highly vulnerable to opportunistic infections over a long period of time. When injected into patients, the CSFs rapidly increase the number of white blood cells and restore their normal function. Susceptibility to infection is therefore very substantially reduced and the well being of patients is greatly enhanced.
To date, over five million patients worldwide have benefited from the CSFs.
At the presentation ceremony at Victorias Government House, Professor Metcalf said, "I am deeply honoured to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award. What is really being recognised is the dedicated teamwork of more than 300 Melbourne scientists, clinicians and nurses, who over a thirty-year period have achieved major advances in our understanding and treatment of blood diseases. My colleagues appreciate this recognition of their accomplishments."