While most famous for our contributions to global sports and culture, Australia has a rich history of innovation and invention. From the iconic Hills Hoist to ubiquitous inventions like Wi-Fi technology and the ‘black box’ flight recorder, our country has contributed much to the world in terms of science and technology.

One area of invention where our influence is really felt is in healthcare and medicine. While the traditional centres of medical development are considered to be in Western Europe and the United States, Australia punches above its weight, and has been responsible for some truly life-changing inventions in healthcare. In this blog, we’ll count off a few of the most influential contributions by Australian medical supplies towards medicine.

Artificial cardiac pacemaker

When it comes to inventions with wide-ranging impacts, there are few that can top the artificial cardiac pacemaker. Developed by doctor Mark C Lidwell of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital of Sydney and physicist Edgar H. Booth of the University of Sydney, the first pacemaker was a comparatively crude device that was plugged into a wall mounted electrical point and required the insertion of a conductive needle directly into a cardiac chamber. Since then, the technology has developed to the point where multiple healthcare technology firms are exploring the potential for implantable, lithium-ion battery powered pacemakers inserted via a leg catheter as opposed to invasive heart surgery.

Spray-on skin

Exactly what it sounds like, spray-on skin is a treatment developed to aid in burn recovery. Developed by Fiona Wood at the Royal Perth Hospital in 1999, the procedure involves growing new skin cells from a small sample of healthy skin taken from the patient. These new cells are then sprayed onto the damage skin. This approach reduced the time taken to grow a useable amount of skin cells from 21 days through traditional methods of skin culturing to 5 days, greatly reducing the potential for scarring.  

Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines

A landmark achievement in cancer treatment, the HPV vaccines were first developed by Ian Frazer and Jian Zhou at the University of Queensland, and is one of only a very small number of anti-cancer vaccines approved for medical use. The vaccine grew out of research that indicated that genital HPV infection can lead to cervical cancer, and since its approval in 2006 has become part of the routine vaccination programs of 71 countries.