(13 June 1922 – 4 February 2017)
James Cook University pays tribute to the Honourable Professor Basil Hetzel, whose research helped improve the lives of millions of people worldwide, especially in developing countries. Prof. Hetzel died recently aged 94.
His research found that many common illnesses for people in developing countries, such as goitre, cretinism and severe mental retardation, were caused by iodine deficiency. This could be completely prevented by introducing iodine into the diets of pregnant women and Dr Hetzel spent much of his life campaigning to incorporate iodised salt into the diet of communities where iodine is lacking.
Prof. Hetzel was most recently Chair and Patron of the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre (Hawke Centre).
From 1998-2002, Professor Hetzel was Chair of the Anton Breinl Centre Advisory Committee at James Cook University.
This was a tremendous period of growth for the Anton Breinl Centre for Public Health and Tropical Medicine and saw it recognised as one of the leading schools of tropical medicine globally and one of the largest public health schools in Australasia.
In 2004 he was named as one of the National Trust's Australian Living Treasures.
He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Sciences by JCU in 2008, and his other qualifications are too numerous to mention.
A small sample of his achievements and awards include Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC), for Service to Australia and World Health particularly in the field of human nutrition, 1990, and the Centenary Medal for his service to Australian society in food science and public health, 2001.
He also received a Prince Mahidol Award Laureate for his pioneering work on Iodine Deficiency Disorders, 2007. This award is often regarded as an indicator of a Nobel Prize level achievement.
He also helped found crisis support service Lifeline, and is noted for his work in the area of mental health.
In 2005, Professor Hetzel published his memoirs, Chance and commitment: Memoirs of a medical scientist.
JCU offers its sincere condolences to his family and friends.