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Photographs supplied by Graeme Saunders

The plaque commemorates Dora Lush who while engaged in research on Scrub Typhus was accidentally infected and died in May 1943.

In 1934, Dora Lush joined the staff of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute as a bacteriological research fellow. She worked closely with Sir Macfarlane Burnet in a small team examining viruses and the human immune system. Employing a method largely devised by Burnet for studying viruses, she undertook path-breaking research with others. Lush collaborated in the search for an influenza vaccine, the early development of myxomatosis and the identification of the herpes simplex virus. Burnet considered her the 'most outstandingly competent' bacteriologist with whom he had ever worked.

In 1939 Lush she want to the National Institute for Medical Research, London. There she hoped to follow through work on the poliomyelitis virus which she could not pursue in Melbourne. The outbreak of World War Two interrupted her plans and she joined a team, led by Sir Patrick Laidlaw, investigating air-borne infections. For two years, she applied her laboratory skills to the influenza virus 'with an excursion into the practical problems of dust control in hospital wards'. In 1942 she was diverted into work on immunization against typhus.

Lush returned to Australia in September 1942.  Scrub typhus was causing havoc among Australian servicemen in the tropics and Burnet was pleased to have her support in work on a vaccine.On 27 April 1943 she accidentally pricked the index finger of her left hand while inoculating a mouse with scrub typhus.

The strain of virus proved a particularly malignant one. She died on 20 May that year in Royal Melbourne Hospital and was cremated. Her insistence that regular blood samples be taken to assist further research into the disease and its treatment caught the public imagination. She was hailed as a martyr to science and the war effort. Within three years it was discovered that the disease could be treated with antibiotics and that a vaccine was unnecessary.



Address:Royal Parade, Walter & Eliza Hall Insititute of Medical Research, Carlton, 3053
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.798218
Long: 144.956503
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:20-May-1943
Actual Event End Date:20-May-1943


Front Inscription

This tablet was erected in memory of Dora Mary Lush, M.Sc.

Who worked in this laboratory, and whilst engaged in research on Scrub Typhus was accidentally infected and died

May 20th 1943

Donated by Mary Wallace

Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au