JavaScript is required

Professor Ruth Bishop AC

Professor Ruth Bishop was the first person to discover the virus that causes gastroenteritis in the 1970s.

Honour Roll

Ruth Bishop graduated from the University of Melbourne with her first Science degree in 1954. Following that, she worked constantly on the study of gastroenteritis - a disease which kills five million people each year and is particularly devastating to young children and people in underdeveloped countries.

In 1968, Ruth returned to work at the gastroenterological research unit at the Royal Children's Hospital. It was fortunate that Ruth was in Melbourne when an epidemic broke out in 1973. Ruth, the senior scientist of the unit, had been attempting to isolate the cause of the disease and suspected the culprit was a virus. Using an electron microscope on tissue samples taken from one of the affected children, she discovered a single unknown virus that was responsible for the disease, the 'rotavirus'.

Since making this discovery, the unit has remained in the forefront of world research into the subject and the development of a vaccine. Ruth has become one of the world's leading authorities on the rotavirus. She has twice been chairperson of World Health Organisation scientific working committees related to diarrhoeal diseases. She received the 1978 Selwyn Smith Medical Research Prize and she earned a Doctor of Science degree. Ruth was appointed Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Melbourne in 1995. She has been the Senior Principal Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council since 1992. She is also a member of the politics and networking group, Women in Medical Science.