Professor Ian Frazer was born in Scotland and gained degrees in Science and Medicine at Edinburgh University. Australia was fortunate that he chose to come to Melbourne in 1981, moving to Queensland in 1985, becoming an Australian citizen, and pioneering research on the link between papilloma viruses and cancer. He founded and led the University of Queensland’s Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research which then become the Diamantina Institute for Cancer, Immunology and Metabolic Medicine, based at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane.
Together with his postdoctoral research fellow, the late Dr Jian Zhou, Professor Frazer defined in 1991 a method for production of virus-like particles for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) using eukaryotic expression vectors. The HPV-like particle technology is now the basis of vaccines commercially available to prevent infection with four papillomaviruses, together responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer and 90% of genital warts.
HPV infections cause over half a million deaths annually around the world from cancers of the cervix and related organs and this research will not only have significant impact world-wide in reducing the burden of cancer but will also act as a model for translational research.
Professor Frazer holds research funding from several Australian and US funding bodies. He is a director of a biotechnology start-up company, Coridon, with an interest in optimising and targeting polynucleotide vaccine protein expression. He is president of Cancer Council Australia, and advises the World Health Organisation and the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation on papillomavirus vaccines.
He won the 2005 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science, the Australian of the Year in 2006, and following on receipt of the Florey Medal in 2006, was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science in 2008.