Mamamia's Best Blokes 2016: We have Ian Frazer to thank for the HPV vaccine.

At Mamamia, we want to acknowledge and celebrate the Australian men who are doing good things and trying to make our country a better place. So we came to you with a list of 100 great Aussie men and asked you to decide Mamamia’s 50 Best Blokes. This week, we’ve been counting down the top ten. Today, we’re thrilled to present Professor Ian Frazer, who came in second. 

Every year, girls and women across the country are injected with life-saving vaccines against the dangerous human papilloma virus that causes most cervical cancers.

For that, we have Professor Ian Frazer to thank.

Professor Frazer, 63, is among the most well-known names in the field of immunology. The Scottish-born Australian scientist’s research gave the world the first HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer — the second most common cancer in women, and one of the deadliest.

His road to success in the field began at a young age, as both his parents were scientists.

“When I was a small kid I used to like to take things to bits to see how they worked and I think in some sense an interest in science is innate”  he revealed in an ABC interview.

“I can remember at school lining up for the polio shots and I think probably a lot of need sharing when on and you were just put in line and given your shot. But polio was obviously such a big disease and impacted so much on people in those days that anything that could be done to prevent it was seen as good.”

Brought up in Edinburgh and Aberdeen in Scotland, he migrated to Melbourne in 1980 to further his research in viral immunology.

Five years later, he took up a teaching role at the University of Queensland where he founded the Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research. His studies led him to believe that there was a link between HPV and cervical cancer.

By 1991, he and his team of researchers had created the cancer vaccine which would make its way to the general public 15 years later. It now benefits people in more than 120 countries across the globe and has been administered millions of times.

Cervical cancer rates have been halved as a result of the vaccine, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary just last month. A huge achievement in just a decade. Professor Frazer says he’s confident all HPV related cancers will be eliminated globally by 2050.

His contribution was recognised when he was named Australian of the Year in 2006 for his years of service to the medical community. At the time, he said he was “driven by curiosity but also the desire to do good for other people.”

His stash of awards have continued to grow, now also including the prestigious Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, Australian Living Treasure, Companion of the Order of Australia and the European Inventor Award.

Professor Frazer continues to break new ground. He has created a vaccine against genital herpes and is now also involved in research to produce vaccines against dengue fever and skin cancer.

Unsurprisingly, he is also a staunch advocate of vaccinations in children, in the face of the growing anti-vaxxer movement fearing adverse reactions to the immunisations.

“It is obviously everyone’s decision if they get vaccinated or not but to decide not to vaccinate a child is to put them at an unnecessary risk for no benefit because the vaccinations we have at the moment are extraordinarily safe,” he told News Corp in 2013.

“To not to vaccinate someone is to ignore the fact that while you think they will not come into contact with an infection; unfortunately viruses don’t think like that.”

Despite having an exceedingly busy life in the realm of science, Professor Frazer also fits in time to be a much-loved husband to wife Caroline and father to three adult sons.

Taking after their father, two of his sons are in medicine while the third is in veterinary science.

Prof Frazer is also a do-gooder for his local community as a member of the Lions Club.

He counts himself as passionate about the opera, music and photography.

And depending on the time of year, you can frequently find him enjoying the outdoors bushwalking or skiing.

“It’s really nice to get out in the bush get a bit of fresh air and get away from the laboratory from time to time. It helps me to think about the more long term issues rather than just focus on the short term problems,” he told Catalyst back in 2007.

“We live in a scientific environment and the bush is part of that and I think its very important that we think about science as it impacts on the whole world, not just what we do on the lab.”

His Twitter feed is full of his triumphs on the snow fields.

In fact, skiing is a sport that is close to heart in several ways. He met his wife through skiing, when he was an organiser of the Edinburgh University Ski Club.

He even admitted to the Australian Academy of Science that he enjoyed working in the mountains so much, he would quite happily have become a ski instructor.

But in a decision that the rest of the world is grateful for, he chose to follow his love of science instead.

Professor Frazer believes that engaging children as to the wonders of science is incredibly significant, he told Catalyst.

“I think that it is really important to encourage young people to take an interest in science. We are faced with decisions about water, about nuclear fuel, about the environment, stem cell research, all of these decisions are put into the public arena and unless you know what we are tying to talk about it’s really difficult for people to make informed decisions,” he said.

“We are given stewardship of the planet that we live on and we have to give it look after it for the next generation.”

We couldn’t agree more.