14 Feb 2022
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Doherty Institute researcher
United States Secretary of State, Mr Antony Blinken, today visited the University of Melbourne to meet with Biomedical Precinct partners, major research organisations and US biotech companies to highlight US-Australian public-private partnerships that supported the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Secretary Blinken is in Australia for the Quad meeting with the foreign ministers of India, Japan and Australia.
University of Melbourne Professor Jane Gunn, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine Dentistry and Health Sciences moderated the Health Security Partnerships Roundtable at Melbourne Connect, which included Professor Kanta Subbarao, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza at the Doherty Institute, and representatives from US biotech companies Illumina, Moderna, Bristol Myers Squibb and IBM, which have key partnerships with the University.
“I want to thank Secretary Blinken for making this visit to the University of Melbourne and for leading concerted efforts between Australia and the USA to end this global pandemic,” Professor Gunn said.
“We look forward to continuing our work together to prepare for emerging health security threats. This visit reiterates our strong commitment to US and Australian research and development initiatives and partnerships for the future.”
Secretary Blinken spoke of the close cooperation in Melbourne between US companies and the Australian Government, supporting the long-term public health of Australia and growing both economies and increasing the health resilience of the entire region.
“Between our countries, between Australia and the United States, I think it’s safe to say we are leaders and leaders together in trying to deal with COVID and also in trying to build back better so we have a stronger more effective global health security system,” Secretary Blinken said.
Earlier in the day, Secretary Blinken met with students and emerging leaders from the University of Melbourne to have an open discussion around the Australia-US alliance and the two countries’ shared values.
University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said he was delighted the Secretary was able to visit the campus.
“We are even more delighted he has made time to engage in open conversation with some of our students today, I have no doubt that they will remember this for a very long time, very fondly,” Professor Maskell said.
Secretary Blinken said the University of Melbourne and Australia holds a special place in his heart as his stepfather, the late Dr Samuel Pisar, a holocaust survivor, graduated from Melbourne Law School in 1953.
“I wanted to engage with some of the sharpest and youngest minds in the country to talk about the future we have, I hope together, between our countries. As the Vice-Chancellor said, there is also something profoundly personal about this for me, my late Stepfather was an alumnus of this institution,” Secretary Blinken told students.
“As he told the family for years, Australia remade him as a person, it remade him into someone who followed intellectual pursuits … this institution was fundamental to that.”
Kimmy Lovegrove is a University of Melbourne alum, graduating with a Certificate of Arts and Creative Writing said she was happy to have the opportunity to ask her question about the potential for a cultural exchange program between the US and Australia with First Nations people.
“I was really happy to hear from the Secretary that he was interested in the program,” Ms Lovegrove said.