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MCRI farewells two brilliant minds

Institute News
Monday, September 14, 2020 - 2:52pm

Vale Professor Margot Prior 

We are very sad to announce the passing of Professor Margot Prior. Margot was a remarkable person, an outstanding researcher and a visionary clinical and research leader, an inspiring female role model for generations to come and was a true pioneer in her field.  

From 1994 until 2002 she was Professor of Psychology in the University of Melbourne Department of Psychology and Director of Psychology at the Royal Children's Hospital. In these roles she advocated for evidence-based psychology practice, and led important changes in child and family psychology practice which continue to today. Together with her colleagues she established the Australian Temperament Study in the early 1980s, which continues today and has contributed enormous knowledge to our understanding of child and adolescent development. She was also integral in the foundation of the Parenting Research Centre, which is now a national resource for Australian parents and a partner the Raising Children's Network.  

She was the first woman to hold a professorship in clinical psychology in Australia when La Trobe University appointed her to that role in 1989. Before finding her calling in psychology Margot had a storied career as an orchestral musician after receiving degrees in arts and music. 
 
Her outstanding legacy in this field is continued at the Margot Prior Autism Intervention Centre, based in the Margot Prior Wing of the La Trobe University Community Children’s Centre. Her leadership and scientific contributions in this field, and also in advocacy for child welfare and social justice, reflected in her chairing the Social and Human Sciences Network for UNESCO, were widely recognised.  

Among many other honours she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (2005), as Victoria's Senior Australian of the Year (2006), and winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR; 2018). She also served in many leadership and service roles, including as Patron of Autism Victoria, Chair of the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, and a member of numerous advisory committees and editorial boards. 


Vale Dr Damien Hudson 

We were deeply saddened to recently farewell Dr Damien Hudson, who passed away on 1st September, three years after receiving a diagnosis of cancer. 

Damien had been with MCRI since 2007 and was a group leader in the Brain and Mitochondria group. He was incredibly intelligent, a committed scientist, a great mentor, a delightful character, and a beloved colleague and friend to many.   
 
Damien received his PhD through the University of Melbourne in 1999. He obtained a postdoctoral position at the Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, where he was awarded the prestigious Caledonian Fellowship from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In late 2007 he returned to Australia at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute where he started his own group specialising in chromosome research and cell replication, relating to many aspects of child health, including cancer, birth defects, aging and development. 
 
Damien and his group were the first to identify vertebrate binding sites of condensin in vertebrates, finding the complex associated predominately with gene regulatory regions. The discovery has led to a new area of research fundamental to gene regulation. The new link between condensin and gene regulation are providing vital clues why condensin mutations are increasingly associated with developmental disorders and cancers. 
 
Damien inspired so many people with his incredibly positive outlook in the face of such difficult circumstances.  Despite the severe and progressive impact that the cancer had on his health, Damien remained enthusiastically active, resilient and productive in the lab throughout this time. He cherished the time he could spend with his family during his illness. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Damien’s wife Kate and their three young children Isobel, Andrew and Christopher.