The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) awarded the 2023 Sidney Sax medal for outstanding contributions to the development and improvement of Australia’s healthcare system to Professor Michelle Haber AM FAA FAHMS, Executive Director of Children’s Cancer Institute and conjoint Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, UNSW, Sydney.

A Sidney Sax medal has also been posthumously awarded to Emeritus Professor Mary-Louise McLaws AO FRSN esteemed epidemiologist and trusted voice to the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

As one of Australia's leading translational researchers, Prof. Haber has earned global recognition for her contribution to Australian childhood cancer research.

Prof. Haber’s research into the childhood cancers neuroblastoma and leukaemia has led to significant advances in our understanding of these diseases, resulting in new clinical approaches and improved survival rates.

‘Prof. Haber’s research has had a very direct and immediate benefit for children with cancer, and she is to be commended on this award,’ said The Hon. Jillian Skinner, AHHA Board Chair.  

A well-respected leader and expert driving the childhood cancer research agenda, Prof. Haber has been the executive director of the Children’s Cancer Institute for the past 20 years, dedicating her professional life to improving clinical outcomes for children with cancer. 

She is also actively involved in developing new research areas arising from the world-leading ZERO program, Australia’s first national child cancer personalised medicine program.

Prior to her passing, Emeritus Prof. Mary-Louise McLaws, played a pivotal role in spearheading widespread improvements in infection control practices within hospital settings, helping save countless lives over the past three decades. But it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that she became a household name, providing public information and advice on the disease. 

‘Prof. McLaws’ contribution to public health in Australia and globally was nothing short of outstanding,’ The Hon. Jillian Skinner said.  

Emeritus Prof. McLaws worked at the UNSW Medicine & Health for 36 years, publishing over 180 scientific papers. She was a well-respected researcher, teacher and mentor, proudly supporting PhD candidates throughout her career.

She was appointed to the World Health Organization (WHO) expert advisory panel on COVID-19 and the NSW clinical taskforce for COVID-19, and in 2022 was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia. 

The 2023 Sidney Sax awards were presented by The Hon. Jillian Skinner at a ceremony in Brisbane on Thursday 26 October, as part of the 2023 Value Based Health Care Congress.