Prof Derrick Rowley

The ASI Rowley Medal awards individuals for outstanding service to ASI and the discipline of immunology.

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Recipients of the medal are

Year Name and Affiliation
2005 Lindsay Dent, University of Adelaide
2006 Judith Greer, University of Queensland
2008 Phil Hodgkin, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute
2009 Andrew Lew, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute
2013 Margaret Baird, University of Otago

(Provided by Professor Ieva Kotlarski from the School of Molecular and Biomedical Science at the University of Adelaide who was Derrick Rowleys first PhD student in Adelaide and was a work colleague for nearly 25 years.)

A distinguished academic and researcher, Derrick Rowley was Emeritus Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Adelaide. For more than 28 years, Derrick was one of the most active, outspoken and productive members of the Australian community of immunologists. In 1970 Professor Derrick Rowley was instrumental in founding the Australian (now Australasian) Society for Immunology to provide a network for discussion, information exchange and collaboration in clinical, experimental, cellular and molecular immunology in humans and animals and was elected its first President. He remained actively involved after his term as President and the Society recognized the value of his contributions by making him an Honorary Life Member. He also had a long association with the Australian Journal of Experimental Biology and Medical Science (renamed Immunology and Cell Biology in 1988), acting as Editor-in-Chief from 1963 till the end of 1987, when he accepted the less demanding position of Deputy Editor for some years. He served on the National Health and Medical Research Council for six years.

Together with his colleagues, he consistently pursued his interests in immunity to enteric infections and in the properties of bacteria that enable them to colonize and grow in animals, including humans. This work earned a fine reputation throughout the world. He was appointed to a number of World Health Organization (WHO) advisory positions, including that of Chairman of the WHO Committee of Diarrhoeal Disease Research. In 1965 he was appointed as the Australian representative on the Advisory Board of the Cholera Research Laboratory in Bangladesh and subsequently served as Chairman of the Scientific Program Committee of the International Centre of Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, based in Bangladesh.

Derrick was born into a working class family in Bradford, Yorkshire on 1st January 1922. His parents were committed to give him a good education and the opportunities this provided. Derrick completed a BSc Honours in Chemistry in June 1941 at the Imperial College in London and took up a research position with Petrochemicals, initially in Manchester, and then for about a year in London and Orpington. During this time Derrick completed his PhD (1945) as an external student of London University.

While in London he had the opportunity to work at the Glaxo Laboratories, where he met Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin. This changed the course of Derricks scientific life to a lifelong commitment and interest in research in biomedical science. In mid 1945 he took up a part-time research position in Flemings laboratory in the Wright Fleming Institute at St Marys Hospital, London, and also began studies in medicine that he completed in 1950. After a year of research in America, supported by a Harkness Fellowship, Derrick returned to the Wright Fleming Institute in London and was soon appointed head of the Department of Bacterial Chemistry. He established a strong, active group of 10 people, including support staff, working on the pathogenesis of enteric infections and the recently described phenomenon of nonspecific immunity.

Derrick and family arrived in Adelaide at the beginning of 1960 to take up the newly established Chair of Microbiology at the University of Adelaide, a position he held until retirement at the beginning of 1988. Many postgraduate research students and post-doctoral researchers came to the department, attracted by the expanding range of research interests and quality of the staff Derrick appointed soon after he arrived. Under his enthusiastic leadership the department increased in size more than 8-fold and changed its name to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, to reflect its broader range of interests.

Derrick was known for his quiet, authoritative style, which was somewhat daunting to undergraduate students and those who did not know him well. Those who knew him respected and admired him and appreciated his integrity, decisiveness and generous response to requests for help and advice, particularly from postgraduate students seeking to develop careers in research. Colleagues and former students remember him as approachable and fair, with a broad range of interests and a great enthusiasm for research and life in general. To be successful, he believed, one had to enjoy both work and play and he practiced what he preached, setting a great example for others. Derricks greatest supporter in all his professional work and extracurricular interests throughout his adult life was his wife Betty.