Young scientist honoured for real world contributions

News | Published on 08 May 2014

Associate Professor David Wilson, head of the Surveillance and Evaluation Program for Public Health at the Kirby Institute,UNSW, has been named one of Australia’s most influential young scientists by the Royal Society of New South Wales.

A/Professor Wilson was awarded the 2013 Edgeworth David Medal for his exceptional contributions to the mathematical modelling of HIV/AIDS epidemics, as well as to the evaluation and strategic planning of global, regional and country‐level responses to this disease.

The prestigious award is given annually to a scientist under the age of 35 for distinguished contributions to Australian science. It is named after the pioneering geologist and longstanding supporter of the Society, Sir Edgeworth David FRS, who wrote the first comprehensive record of the geology of Australia.

Wilson’s work involves coordinating and reporting on surveillance of Australia’s HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections. And while much international attention and funding is currently dedicated to the treatment of those who are already HIV-positive and those living with AIDS, David’s core focus has been on the development of advanced mathematical models to describe and project epidemics where prevalence is widespread or of growing concern, and to provide critical leadership to decision makers in Australia and internationally on the most effective, efficient and sustainable strategies to address epidemics.

“Among many other successes, David’s research has shown how life-saving HIV drugs should be allocated to have the maximum population impact in countries where there are many people to treat but limited resources available to purchase the drugs,” said Professor David Cooper, Director of the Kirby Institute. “Whilst one day we hope to have a cure for HIV, in the interim it is the work of expert mathematical modellers like David, who possess both access to, and influence upon the decision makers and clinical networks on the frontline that offer the greatest hope of mitigating the spread of this deadly disease.”

A/Professor Wilson has published numerous highly influential scientific papers in the world’s leading journals. His research has led to regular and on-going involvement in global health committees for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, World Bank and World Health Organization. He has led the development of the principles and guidelines for HIV epidemic modelling and regularly serves in the development of national and regional strategies and operational plans against HIV for countries around the world.

“David is an outstanding young researcher who is motivated by making a direct, tangible impact on public health evaluation of sexually transmitted infections, especially HIV/AIDS,” said Professor Cooper. “His work is not only of the highest calibre academically, but the value and impact of his research findings are having a tangible, positive effect on people lives around the world.” 


Laurie Legere


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