|Name||Frank Macfarlane Burnet|
|Birth||(1899-09-03)3 September 1899 Traralgon,Victoria, Australia|
|Birth Place||Traralgon,Victoria, Australia|
|Death||(1985-08-31)(aged 85) Port Fairy, Victoria, Australia|
|Died At||Port Fairy, Victoria, Australia|
|Alma Mater||University of Melbourne University of London|
|Famous Research||Acquiredimmune tolerance||Doctoral Advisor||John Charles Grant Ledingham|
Events Occured in Scienctist Life
Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet, (3 September 1899 – 31 August 1985), usually known as Macfarlane or Mac Burnet, was an Australian virologist best known for his contributions to immunology.
He won a Nobel Prize in 1960 for predicting acquired immune tolerance and was best known for developing the theory of clonal selection.
Burnet received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Melbourne in 1924, and his PhD from the University of London in 1928.
He went on to conduct pioneering research in microbiology and immunology at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, and served as director of the Institute from 1944 to 1965.
From 1965 until his retirement in 1978, Burnet worked at the University of Melbourne.
Throughout his career he played an active role in the development of public policy for the medical sciences in Australia and was a founding member of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS), and served as its president from 1965 to 1969.
For his contributions to Australian science, he was made the first Australian of the Year in 1960, and in 1978 a Knight of the Order of Australia.
The Burnets moved to Terang in 1909, when Frank was posted to be the bank manager there, having declined a post in London.
Burnet was interested in the wildlife around the nearby lake; he joined the Scouts in 1910 and enjoyed all outdoor activities.
Starting there in 1913, Burnet was the only boarder with a full scholarship.
Nevertheless, his academic prowess gained him privileges, and he graduated in 1916, placing first in his school overall, and in history, English, chemistry and physics.
From 1918, Burnet attended the University of Melbourne, where he lived in Ormond College on a residential scholarship.
The following year, 1918, he became increasingly immersed in laboratory work, but he was also dogged by peer pressure to enlist in the military, which he saw as a distasteful prospect.
In 1919, he was one of 12 high-performing students selected for extra tuition, and he came equal first in third year physiology.
The length of time required to study medicine had been reduced to five years to train doctors faster following the outbreak of World War I, and Burnet graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery in 1922, ranking second in the final exams despite the death of his father a few weeks earlier.
During the transition period he worked as a pathology registrar at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and also prepared for his Doctor of Medicine examinations, late in 1923.
In 1923 he took up the post of senior resident pathologist at the Melbourne Hospital; the laboratories were a part of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.
Burnet left Australia for England in 1925 and served as ship's surgeon during his journey in exchange for a free fare.
During the latter half of 1926, he experimented to see if Salmonella typhimurium was affected by bacteriophage.
He was awarded the Beit Memorial Fellowship by the Lister Institute in 1926; this gave him enough money for him to resign his curator position and he began full-time research on bacteriophages.
For this work he received a Ph.D. from the University of London in 1928 under the direction of Professor J. C. G. Ledingham and was invited to write a chapter on bacteriophages for the Medical Research Council's System of Bacteriology.
He was also given an invitation to deliver a paper at the Royal Society of Medicine in 1927 on the link between O-agglutinins and bacteriophage.
She was a secondary school teacher and daughter of a barrister's clerk and the pair had met in 1923 and had a few dates but did not keep in touch.
They married in 1928 after he had completed his Ph.D. and returned to Australia, and had a son and two daughters.
During this time, he continued to study bacteriophages, writing 32 papers on phages between 1924 and 1937.
In 1929, Burnet and his graduate assistant Margot McKie wrote a paper suggesting that bacteriophages could exist as a stable non-infectious form that multiplies with the bacterial host.
Their pioneering description of lysogeny was not accepted until much later, and was crucial to the work of Max Delbrück, Alfred Hershey and Salvador Luria on the replication mechanism and genetics of viruses, for which they were awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Between 1932 and 1933, Burnet took leave of absence to undertake a fellowship at the National Institute for Medical Research in London.
With the outbreak of war, Burnet was handed more responsibility and made acting director and had to oversee the move into a new building as Kellaway was seconded to the military in 1939.
He first tested the vaccine on a group of medical students, and after a promising test on 107 army volunteers in February 1942 following a rise in infections, a large-scale program was introduced two months later to inoculate all new recruits after an influenza A outbreak.
In 1942, the investigations into scrub typhus accelerated after an exodus of researchers in that field from Malaya after the Japanese conquest of the area.
Burnet's first book, Biological Aspects of Infectious Disease, was published in 1940.
In 1942 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in 1944 he travelled to Harvard University to deliver the Dunham Lectures.
In 1944, he was appointed director of the Institute when Kellaway was appointed director of the Wellcome Foundation.
In 1944, it was decided by the University of Melbourne that Burnet would be appointed a professor as part of a cooperative program so that university students could be experimentally trained at the Institute, while the researchers engaged in some teaching.
In 1946, he initiated the Clinical Research Unit to allow for closer cooperation with the clinical activities of the now named Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Between 1951 and 1956, Burnet worked on the genetics of influenza.
In 1957, Burnet decided that research at the Institute should focus on immunology.
After 1957 all new staff and students at the Institute worked on immunological problems; Burnet was involved in work relating to autoimmune diseases and the graft-versus-host reaction, and increasingly in theoretical studies of immunology, immunological surveillance and cancer.
Burnet began to switch his focus to immunology in the 1940s.
In 1941 he wrote a monograph called "The Production of Antibodies", which was revised and reissued in 1949 with Frank Fenner as a co-author.
Peter Medawar, Rupert E. Billingham and Leslie Brent did find support for Burnet's hypothesis in 1953 when they showed that splenocytes could be engrafted by intravenous infusion into mice in utero or just after birth and that when these mice matured, they could accept skin and other tissues from the donor but not from any other mouse strain.
Burnet and Medawar were co-recipients of the 1960 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for this work, as it provided the experimental basis for inducing immune tolerance, thereby allowing the transplantation of solid organs.
In contrast to the Burnet hypothesis of a special tolerance-inducing period defined by the age of the animal, Joshua Lederberg proposed in 1959, that it is the age of the lymphocyte that defines whether an antigen that is encountered will induce tolerance, with immature lymphocytes being tolerance-sensitive.
The dominant idea in the literature through the 1940s was that the antigen acted as a template for antibody production, which was known as the "instructive" hypothesis.
In 1956 he became interested in Niels Kaj Jerne's natural selection hypothesis, which described a mechanism for immune response based on an earlier theory of Nobel-winning immunologist Paul Ehrlich.
In 1958 Gustav Nossal and Lederberg showed that one B cell always produces only one antibody, which was the first evidence for clonal selection theory.
Burnet wrote further about the theory in his 1959 book The Clonal Selection Theory of Acquired Immunity.
Jerne was recognised for his contributions to the conceptualisation of the immune system when he was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in 1984.
Simonsen had shown in 1957 that when a chick embryo was inoculated intravenously with adult-fowl blood, a graft-versus-host reaction occurred; this was known as the Simonsen phenomenon.
In 1960, Burnet scaled back his laboratory work, taking one day off per week to concentrate on writing.
In 1963, Autoimmune Diseases: Pathogenesis, Chemistry and Therapy, which he authored with Ian Mackay, was published.
He continued to be active in the laboratory until his retirement in 1965, although his experimental time began to decrease as the operations became increasingly focused on immunology; Burnet's work in this area had been mostly theoretical.
From 1937 Burnet was involved in a variety of scientific and public policy bodies, starting with a position on a government advisory council on polio.
After he became the director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in 1944, he was considered a public figure and overcame shyness to become a good public speaker.
Between 1955 and 1959, he was chairman of the Australian Radiation Advisory Committee; he was concerned that Australians were being exposed to unnecessary medical and industrial radiation.
Burnet served as first chair for the Commonwealth Foundation (1966–69), a Commonwealth initiative to foster interaction between the member countries' elite, and he was also active in the World Health Organization, serving on the Expert Advisory Panels on Virus Diseases and on Immunology between 1952 and 1969 and the World Health Organization Medical Research Advisory Committee between 1969 and 1973.In 1964, he was appointed to sit on the University Council of Victoria's third university La Trobe on an interim basis until the institution was formed in 1966.
His ideas were too radical for his peers and he stepped down from the role in 1970 after none of his suggestions had made an impact.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, he was also vocal in the anti-smoking movement; he was one of the first high-profile figures in Australia to educate the public on the dangers of tobacco, and he appeared in a television advertisement criticising the ethics of tobacco advertising, and broadcasters for displaying such material.
A former smoker, he had rejected the habit in the 1950s after several friends died.
He also wrote an autobiography entitled Changing Patterns: An Atypical Autobiography, which was released in 1968.
In 1969 he published Cellular Immunology, considered his magnum opus on immunity, which attempted to show how various phenomena could be predicted by the clonal selection theory.
He became president of the Australian Academy of Science in 1965, having been a foundational fellow when the Academy was formed in 1954.
He had been offered the presidency in 1958 to replace the inaugural head Sir Mark Oliphant, but declined, although he served on the council and as vice president in 1961–63.
When his presidency ended in 1969, the Academy founded the Macfarlane Burnet Medal and Lecture, which is the Academy's highest award for biological sciences.
In 1966, Burnet accepted a nomination from Australia Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies to become the inaugural chairman of the Commonwealth Foundation, a body that aimed to increase the professional interchange between the various nations of the British Commonwealth.
In 1966 Burnet wrote an opinion article for The Lancet entitled "Men or Molecules?"
He angrily denounced French nuclear testing in the Pacific, and after consistently voting for the ruling Liberal Party coalition as it ruled for the past few decades, signed an open letter backing the opposition Labor Party of Gough Whitlam, which took power in 1972.
In 1971–72, he wrote four books, most notably, Genes, Dreams and Realities, which caused great controversy due to its strident attacks on molecular biology, cellular biology, and claims that cancer and various other diseases were incurable and that it was pointless to try to do so.
In 1966 Burnet presented the Boyer Lectures, focusing on human biology.
In 1970 he revised an earlier book which was published as Dominant Mammal: the Biology of Human Destiny; it was followed by Endurance of Life, which was published in 1978.
His first wife, Edith Linda Druce, died from lymphoid leukaemia in 1973, after a four-year struggle.
In 1975, he travelled to California to deliver a series of lectures.
In 1976 he married Hazel G. Jenkins, a widowed former singer from a business family in her 70s who was working in the microbiology department as a librarian, and moved out of Ormond College.
In 1978 Burnet decided to officially retire; in retirement he wrote two books.
In 1982, Burnet was one of three contributors to Challenge to Australia, writing about genetic issues and their impact on the nation's impact.
As a result of the success of the book, in early 1983, Burnet was appointed to the 70-person Australian Advisory Council of Elders to offer counsel to policymakers, but the group folded after several members became too frail or died.
Burnet continued to travel and speak, but in the early 1980s, he and his wife became increasingly hampered by illness.
Having surmised his illness two years earlier, in November 1984 he underwent surgery for colorectal cancer.
Secondary lesions were found in June 1985 and declared to be inoperable and terminal.
Lady Hazel Burnet died in 1990.
He was knighted in the 1951 New Year Honours, received the Elizabeth II Coronation Medal in 1953, and was appointed to the Order of Merit (OM) in the 1958 Queen's Birthday Honours.
He received a Gold and Silver Star from the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun in 1961.
He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1969 New Year Honours, and received the Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal in 1977.
In 1978 he was made a Knight of the Order of Australia (AK).
The Burnet Clinical Research Unit of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute was also named in his honour in 1986.
In 1975 his work on immunology was recognised by a 33-cent stamp released by Australia Post.
Seven Australian medical scientists were commemorated in the issue of a set of four Australian stamps released in 1995; he appears on the 45-cent stamp with fellow University of Melbourne graduate Jean Macnamara.
He also appears on a Dominican stamp that was issued in 1997.
The centenary of his birth was celebrated in Australia in 1999; a statue of him was erected in Franklin Street, Traralgon; and several events were held in his honour including the release of a new edition of his biography by Oxford University Press.
Sankaran, N. (2008). "Stepping-stones to One-step Growth: Frank Macfarlane Burnet's Role in Elucidating the Viral Nature of the Bacteriophages".