Professor Emeritus Mary-Louise McLaws OA, a world-renowned epidemiologist and public health researcher, has died.
A world-renowned public health advocate, Professor McLaws (nee Viney) understands that health crises need experts as well as leaders. He became both to millions of Australians.
During the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Australians have become accustomed to seeing Professor McLaws on their screens as he uses data – not jargon – to inform us and fight disinformation.
By doing so, Professor McLaws helped save thousands of lives.
A career spent keeping the community safe
Professor McLaws – known as “ML” to his friends and family – is remembered by his peers as hardworking, no-nonsense, and down-to-earth.
Professor McLaws had a passion for public health early in his career, inspired by his mentor and immunologist, the late Professor David Cooper AC. McLaws earned his PhD in Epidemiology in 1992, and eventually became Professor of Epidemiology, Control of Infection and Infectious Diseases in Hospitals at the School of Population Health at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).
Professor McLaws has led the first national epidemiological studies, including a survey of health care-associated infections in Australia in 1984.
McLaws went on to publish more than 180 research articles.
In the early 2000s, Professor McLaws was appointed World Health Organization adviser to China and Malaysia during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. He also worked with organizations in Beijing to review the response to SARS and the safety of healthcare workers in designated SARS hospitals in Hong Kong. McLaws also worked closely with WHO to combat the 2004 bird flu outbreak.
In Australia, Professor McLaws was appointed Director of the Public Health Unit for Sydney Southwest Regional Health Services, where he worked to eradicate the human immunodeficiency virus, and hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses, and stem the spread of swine flu. virus.
The trusted face of science during COVID-19
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor McLaws called it first, and said it loud.
Against significant resistance, Professor McLaws was among the first to support mandating the use of masks, which have been effective in limiting infection rates in Northeast Asia.
McLaws was quick to talk about flaws in the hotel’s quarantine plans due to inadequate ventilation systems unable to prevent airborne transmission, while the national cabinet focused on the older “droplet” theory of germs. McLaws is also pushing for an earlier (and better) vaccine rollout.
During the pandemic, McLaws was again appointed as an adviser to WHO and sat on the Health Emergencies Program Expert Advisory Panel on COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Preparedness, Preparedness and Response. He is a special staff member of the WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) at the UNSW School of Population Health, and a member of the COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control taskforce at the NSW Commission of Clinical Excellence.
Professor McLaws is calm and considerate when he addresses the public, avoiding jargon.
“My tone should always be, ‘I’m not a political person, but I’m going to tell you what I think of as a … global epidemiologist and what is the reason I do this. [WHO] and others are working towards it’,” said Professor McLaws.
A valuable contributor to Australian Medical Journal
Professor McLaws is a regular contributor Australian Medical Journal (WAITER), the most recent of which calls for offering COVID-19 vaccinations to adolescents and young adults in 2021.
That owned by MJA The Editor in Chief, Professor Virginia Barbour, paid tribute to Professor McLaws.
As the current Editor in Chief WAITERI thank Professor McLaws for his contribution to WAITER for many years,” said Professor Barbour.
“Like many others in Australia, I am deeply grateful for his leadership and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. on behalf of WAITERI extend our condolences to his family and friends.”
Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Professor Nicholas Talley AC, echoes Professor Barbour’s statement.
“Professor McLaws is an outstanding academic, an international leader in public health and a voice for reason during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Professor Talley.
“I feel very fortunate to have his authoritative voice who can be relied upon to get the most up-to-date information on this pandemic. He made a major contribution to WAITER over his career. He was an amazing person and will be sorely missed.”
Professor Vale Mary-Louise McLaws
Professor McLaws continued to research and contribute to research articles until his death; The WHO published its latest article last week on public health communication.
Professor McLaws, in turn, oversees PhD candidates in Australia, Cambodia, China, Bangladesh, Mali, Indonesia, Iran, Vietnam, Taiwan and Türkiye.
Professor Emeritus McLaws is 70 years old. She is married to Richard Flook and has two children, daughter Zia and son Zachary.
He will be missed by his community, and for his contributions to medical science.
Mary-Louise McLaws: 1953–2023
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