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Graeme Laver
Former professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Australian National University in Canberra

You asked what I thought was the greatest innovation in my field. Not the greatest discovery, but the greatest innovation.

My dictionary defines innovation as ‘something newly introduced; a novel practice, method etc’. My field is Virology and in this rather specific area I think the development (invention!) of vaccines to prevent virus diseases is probably the greatest innovation so far.

The concept of preventing infection by viruses by administering killed or weakened preparations of viruses to people (and animals) has lead to the prevention, and in some cases elimination, of many diseases caused by viruses. Smallpox, polio, yellow fever, measles and mumps are some that come to mind.

Graeme Laver is the former professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University in Canberra