Three researchers recognised with Woodward Medals at this year's awards

Professor Geoffrey McFadden, Professor Katherine Kedzierska and Professor Cordelia Fine have been recognised with Woodward Medals from the University of Melbourne.

Outstanding intellectual work in the fields of infectious diseases and gender bias has earned three University of Melbourne researchers this year’s Woodward Medals – an annual award that recognises significant contributions to knowledge published by our researchers in the previous five years.

For only the second time in its 18-year history, the Woodward Medal in Science and Technology was jointly awarded this year. The recipients are Professor Geoffrey McFadden of the School of Biosciences, and Professor Katherine Kedzierska of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Doherty Institute.

Professor McFadden's research seeks to understand the metabolism of the malaria parasite throughout its complicated life cycle across humans and mosquitoes. Malaria causes around 400,000 deaths each year and exacts a heavy burden in terms of treatment costs, lost productivity and interrupted education.

Professor Kedzierska's research on H7N9 influenza has revealed how the immune system responds to this deadly strain of bird flu. Her discovery that a subset of immune cells targets a part of the virus common to many strains potentially brings us closer to a universal vaccine for all strains of influenza.

The Woodward Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences has been awarded to Professor Cordelia Fine of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, for her internationally esteemed book, Testosterone Rex (2017).

Testosterone Rex is a reminder of the power of evidence-based research to separate myth from reality. Using studies in neuroscience, psychology, evolutionary science and endocrinology, the book debunks what the author calls "that familiar, plausible, pervasive, and powerful story of sex and society", which blames hormones for the gender gap. Wrongly concluding that 'boys will be boys', Professor Fine argues, distracts from the cultural and societal changes necessary to reduce gender bias and promote equality.

The Woodward Medals honour former University of Melbourne Chancellor Sir Edward Woodward AC OBE QC and Lady Lois Woodward AM, both graduates of the University who made professional and personal contributions in areas as wide-ranging as law, social justice, education, health and Indigenous affairs. In their memory, the Medals support and reward research excellence – a prerequisite for translation and impact.