Recently, the Australian Jian Zhou Medal, named in memory of Dr Jian Zhou, a WMU alumnus, announced its first recipients: Professor Sarah-Jane Dawson FAHMS from the Centre for Cancer Research at the University of Melbourne and Professor Andrew Steer FAHMS from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
The Jian Zhou Medal was launched in October 2019 by the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences in honor of late Dr Jian Zhou, who contributed to human health by developing the vaccines against cervical cancer. The Medal is awarded annually to a rising star of Australian health and medical science, primarily working in Australia, in recognition of their significant impact in translational health and medical science.
Dr Zhou was a world-famous molecular biologist, virologist, and co-developer of the HPV vaccine, the first vaccine to help prevent cancer. He graduated in clinical medicine from Wenzhou Medical College in 1982 and went onto obtaining his Master’s degree and a PhD from Zhejiang Medical University and Henan Medical University respectively. While studying for his doctorate, Dr Zhou took up the research of HPV. In the following years of study, he went to Beijing, Cambridge to continue his research in HPV and became an expert in this field. In 1989, Dr Zhou first met his future partner Professor Ian Frazer, the director of the Center for Immunology and Cancer Research at the University of Queensland, in Cambridge. At Professor Frazer’s sincere invitation, Dr Zhou and his wife Xiao-Yi Sun went to Queensland where they succeeded in creating a virus-like particle in vitro using recombinant DNA technology (it is called Zhou’s particle in the academic community), which is the basis for the Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines. Dr Zhou and Professor Frazer applied for a patent for the invention together. Tragically, Dr Zhou died on March 9, 1999, at the young age of just 42. In his short yet glorious life, he published more than 40 papers in many internationally influential journals and obtained 11 patents. The Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines he invented have been widely used and protect women worldwide against viruses that cause cervical cancer.