Vale Professor Mary-Louise McLaws

Vale Professor Mary Louise McLaws

17th March 1953 – 12th August 2023.

Renowned Australian epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws has sadly lost her battle to cancer at age 70.

Mary-Louise was a Professor of Epidemiology, Healthcare Associated Infection, and Infectious Diseases Control at The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australia, the Water-Health Leader for the UNSW Global Water Institute and Deputy President of the UNSW Academic Board. Her clinical epidemiology research focused on patient safety improvement programs with a special interest in Hand Hygiene.

Mary-Louise held membership to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Technical Steering Committee for the Infection Prevention and Control Global Unit and the Health Emergencies Program Experts Advisory Panel for Infection Prevention and Control Preparedness, Readiness and Response to COVID-19. She collaborated with Beijing to review the response to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak. Mary-Louise provided advice for 9 years to the WHO Clean Care is Safer Care Challenge program. She was commissioned by the Commonwealth to review the Pandemic Influenza Infection Control Guidelines for evidence of protection for healthcare workers.

Mary Louise held an esteemed career in Epidemiology writing over 180 research papers and supervised and supported dozens of PhD students.

In June 2022, she was named Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday honours list, for her distinguished service to medical research, particularly epidemiology and infection prevention.

Professor Mary Louise McLaws speaking at Whiteley’s Seminar Series event in New Zealand in 2018. Photo Credit: UNSW

Professor Mary Louise provided regular updates to the Australian public via the media during Covid which kept many informed on infection prevention etiquette, social distancing, and hand hygiene.

The Whiteley team have had a long association with Professor May Louise and were honoured to work with her pioneering a new paradigm in hand hygiene compliance measurement, The McLaws Hand Hygiene Calculator™ based on her research. It is based on a new algorithm used to measure hand hygiene compliance in healthcare, that both removes bias and establishes a new quantitative approach to measure minimum expected compliance and alert Infection Prevention and Control staff about the need to perform on the ward education of the whole clinical team.

Darran Leyden (Managing Director) from Whiteley’s commented “Ït is with great sadness all of the Whiteley Team mark the passing of Mary Lou. She was a brilliant researcher and academic that was fearless and passionate about infection prevention. With good reason Professor Mary Lou was seen as a calm, scientific voice of reason in Australia and beyond during the Pandemic and she will be missed by many.”

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with Mary-Louise McLaws family.

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