Sydney wins top honors at Prime Minister’s Science Awards
Professor Holmes received the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for Science for his transformative role in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with international collaborators from Fudan University in Shanghai, Professor Holmes was the first person to publicly share the entire genome of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.
This act of January 10, 2020 marked the start of the global scientific response to the pandemic and allowed the rapid development of COVID-19 tests and vaccinations.
Professor Holmes is a recognized leader in the study of viral evolution. In addition to his work on coronaviruses, he pioneered the study of how viruses evolve and pass from species to species, including humans, to spread and cause disease. . His work laid the foundations for the study of the evolution, ecology and emergence of viruses.
Using genome sequencing data, he helped determine the origin and spread of major human and animal pathogens, including hepatitis C, HIV, influenza, West Nile, dengue, Zika and Ebola.
Professor Holmes said: âIt is an incredible privilege to receive the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. This is a tribute to a vast network of scientists in Australia and around the world who have worked so hard to understand how viruses evolve and emerge to cause disease.
âCOVID-19 will not be the last pandemic and it is crucial that we build an even stronger research network in this area. I especially thank the University of Sydney for its unwavering support.
Professor Holmes hopes his prize will draw attention to the need to develop global systems to prevent the epidemic and the spread of future zoonotic diseases. At the heart of this will be the need to improve global academic collaboration and for scientists and medical authorities to share information with speed and transparency.
Professor Holmes works at the Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases and the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney. He also holds a joint position with the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Medicine and Health.
He is New South Wales titular scientist of the year, fellow of the Royal Society, fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences and laureate of the Australian Research Council.