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Top Australian honour for founders

In the 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Professors Robyn Norton and Stephen MacMahon, the founders and principal directors of The George Institute for Global Health, were appointed Officers in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO).

Professor Norton said: “This is a very special recognition not only for Stephen and me, but also for all the staff of The George Institute worldwide.  The Institute’s success and impact directly reflects the commitment and contribution of a very large number of people who have worked for The George since its establishment in 1999.”

Professor MacMahon added: “These awards are an acknowledgement of the importance of the Institute’s efforts to develop radically different solutions for the major healthcare challenges facing Australia and most other countries.  They are also an acknowledgement of the importance of focusing on the vulnerable and disadvantaged, since they suffer the greatest burden of disease, disability and premature death.”

Professor MacMahon was honoured for, ‘Distinguished service to medical research at a national and international level, through advancements in the treatment of hypertension, stroke and diabetes, and to improving health outcomes for disadvantaged populations.’ Professor Norton received her award for ‘Distinguished service to medical research through improving health outcomes for disadvantaged populations, to reducing the burden of road and traffic injury, and to professional organisations.’

Both acknowledged that while the Institute has received financial support from many organisations in many countries, it was the Australian Government’s support for medical research that has been central to the Institute’s success and impact.

“The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia has funded much of our most important work in areas ranging from the treatment of diabetes in the community to the treatment of critically ill patients in intensive care,” said Professor Norton.

The George Institute for Global Health was founded with a specific mission to develop and evaluate affordable scalable solutions to the rapidly growing epidemics of serious chronic diseases and major injuries.  The results of the Institute‘s work has directly resulted in many changes in guidelines for the care of patients with conditions that affect more than a billion people worldwide.

Since the Institute’s establishment in Sydney 18 years ago, it has grown from an organisation with just five staff to an employer of more than 600 staff across research centres in Australia, China, India and the UK. 

The Institute has also established a commercial business, George Health Enterprises Pty Ltd, which is charged with using the research findings of the Institute to develop effective affordable products and services that will improve the health of those at highest risk of conditions such as heart attack and stroke.

Michael Hawker, AM, Chairman of The George Institute Board, also welcomed the announcement. “Robyn and Stephen are wonderful people, who 18 years ago started on a mission to help provide affordable healthcare to the five billion people in the world that couldn't afford it. 

“Today they have built The George Institute for Global Health (one of the great untold Australian success stories) into a globally effective and admired medical research organisation focused on chronic disease that has improved the medical care for millions of people worldwide. 

“I congratulate them both on their extraordinary achievement in building The George Institute and on their well-deserved recognition in the Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours List, as two great Australians."

“Over the years they have received many awards, but this really has to be the highest honour and one that is absolutely deserved.”

See the official list of recipients in The Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours.

About Stephen MacMahon

In addition to his role as Principal Director of the George Institute, Professor MacMahon is a Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at UNSW Sydney and Professor of Medicine and Oxford Martin Senior Fellow at the University Oxford. He is an international authority on the causes, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and has a special interest is the management of chronic and complex conditions in resource-poor settings, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. He is also an advocate for an increased role for business in improving  healthcare for high risk patients in disadvantaged circumstances. He was named EY Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013.

About Robyn Norton

In addition to her role as Principal Director of the George Institute, Professor Norton is Professor of Public Health at UNSW Sydney and Professor of Global Health and Oxford Martin Senior Fellow at the University of Oxford. She is internationally acknowledged for her research on the causes, prevention and management of injuries, especially road traffic and fall-related injuries, as well as the management of various critical conditions in surgical and intensive care settings. She has had a long-standing commitment to improving women’s health and is currently leading a major new global initiative on the health of women and girl’s.