A message from Florey Director, Professor Geoffrey Donnan, delivered at the Melbourne Brain Symposium on Thursday October 12, 2017:
“Today, I would like to pay tribute to someone who has made an enormous contribution to public life at the Florey as our past director, and at the university, as a revered academic. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to acknowledge Emeritus Professor Fred Mendelsohn AO.
Possibly even more important than his contribution to academic life and neuroscience, Fred has worked with others to implement a treaty to ban nuclear weapons through the United Nations.
Along with his colleagues at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Fred has worked with university infectious disease academic, Prof Tilman Ruff and the late prime minister, Malcolm Fraser, among others, to form a coalition of non-governmental organisations in more than one hundred countries.
On Friday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the Nobel Peace Prize and awarded Fred and his ICAN colleagues “for (their) work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for (their) ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”.
Could there be a more important time to be seeking an end to the risk of nuclear weapons and the potential catastrophe on humanity?
Sadly, the current Australian government is one of the few first world countries still opposed to the treaty due to its military alliance with the US.
Fred commented in The Australian on Monday morning, and I quote:
“All that mankind has achieved is extraordinary but in parallel there is this recalcitrant, terrible susceptibility to war, persecution and the hatred of other groups.”
And when delivering the ABC Ockham’s Razor lecture in 2014, Fred concluded with the following:
“There are no scientific barriers to eliminating nuclear weapons, only political barriers. But those barriers are starting to crumble ……
Now, with a nuclear weapons ban on the horizon, there is a historic window of opportunity for all of us to amplify our call for a nuclear-weapons-free world – and to hold our governments to account to ensure that they deliver this to us.”
Fred, on behalf of the Florey, thank you so much for all you have done in this incredibly important area and may we offer you hearty congratulations in sharing the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017.