Renowned Australian skin cancer researcher Adele Green has won the top honour in The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence awards across the Tasman.
The Queensland-based Professor Green, who also won the innovation category for pioneering research into the prevention of melanomas and other skin cancers, said she was honoured, given the calibre of the finalists announced in Sydney on Thursday night.
“This is an unbelievable and marvellous surprise; I feel tremendously honoured,” professor Green said.
“This is a tremendous boost to all of us involved in medical research in Australia.
“I see this award as a recognition of the marvellous work of many women around the country who are involved in trying to find innovative approaches to preventing disease, just like I am doing, and to alleviating the suffering in our community.”
Professor Green, senior scientist at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and head of the institute’s cancer and population studies group, has made significant advances in understanding the causes and prevention of melanomas and other skin cancers over the past 25 years.
The panel of judges, including Investec chairman David Gonski and IBM Australia and New Zealand managing director Andrew Stevens, said Professor Green’s world-class research and innovation was the perfect example of the pinnacles Australian women can reach.
“In addition to her contribution to research in the important field of cancer research, Adele has used her influence to consistently mentor and support others,” the judges said.
“Her scientific work has underpinned the establishing of sun-safe behaviours, which has influenced nearly all Australians and been recognised around the world.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the 100 Women of Influence awards celebrate the immense contribution women make to Australian life.Women’s immense contribution
“In every field of endeavour, the women honoured by these awards have excelled and inspired others,’ he said. “They have all made a significant contribution to the life of our country.”
Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly said Professor Green was a truly inspiring woman whose work on melanoma research had made a big impact on everyday Australians.
“She is internationally recognised, not only for her achievements in medicine but also in the wider academic community.”
Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood described Professor Green, who was named Queensland’s Australian of the Year in 2013, as a worthy winner.
“Each finalist should be proud of their achievements; with over 500 nominations we experienced a gruelling judging process, and as a result we are able to celebrate the commitment and dedication these amazing women are making on society.”
Westpac’s director of women’s markets, Larke Riemer, said: “It is undeniably important to recognise the positive impact women make locally, nationally and internationally in both businesses and in their communities.
“Recent Westpac research revealed that about 40 per cent of professional women do not have a career influencer in their life, yet 61 per cent of those women wish they did.”
Professor Green said her upbringing in the Sunshine State inspired her to pursue a career in cancer research.
She said Australia was slowly winning the battle against melanomas, but young people still think tanned is beautiful.
One of the most satisfying medical achievements was getting the community to understand what a melanoma looks like.
“So now if you have an early melanoma you’ll know about it, whereas 30 years ago you mightn’t have.
“Melanoma is not the deadly cancer you think it is when it’s diagnosed early.”