The AGAR has sadly become aware Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, renowned Australian and international epidemiologist, has died at the age of 70 after a long illness.
Highly respected by all who knew her Mary-Louise was a professor of epidemiology at the University of New South Wales for over 30 years specialising in infectious diseases and a frequent invited participant to AGAR committee meetings. During her extraordinary career she co-wrote more than 180 research papers and supervised and supported many PhD students.
Her early research included a 1995 study on HIV/AIDS in Australia, which examined women who had acquired HIV from their male sexual partners. In 2004, Mary-Louise was sent to Beijing for two months to monitor bird flu for the World Health Organization. She also consulted Hong Kong’s authorities during the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak, and helped with infection-control research in Cambodia, China, Bangladesh, Mali, Indonesia, Iran, Vietnam, Taiwan and Turkey.
Mary-Louise became “widely known to the Australian public through her media appearances” during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. She was one of the first public advocates for mandatory face masks and the closure of the Australian border. She later advocated for mandatory vaccination, including the establishment of vaccination hubs to achieve herd immunity. In 2021 she was named by the Australian Financial Review as one of the ten “most culturally powerful people” in Australia. In 2022 Mary-Louise was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to medical research, particularly to epidemiology and infection prevention, to tertiary education, and to health administration.
The AGAR Executive Committee offers our sympathies and condolences to Mary-Louise’s family, friends and colleagues. We will miss her immensely for her intelligence, enthusiasm, and kindness.
Professor Geoffrey Coombs