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8 Things To Know About Pioneering Polio Doctor Dame Jean Macnamara

Dame Jean Macnamara

Dame Jean Macnamara

Although Google has made it known that it will not be up to its usual April Fools’ Day shenanigans today, the company’s homepage has chosen to celebrate the life of Dame Jean Macnamara.

Today would have been her 121st birthday.


Dame Jean Macnamara was a tireless polio researcher and Google is honouring her with a Google Doodle.

Born in Victoria, Australia, Annie Jean Macnamara graduated medical school at the age of 23 and joined Royal Children’s Hospital a year later.

Her arrival was just before the hospital faced a polio outbreak.

Dame Jean Macnamara Google Doodle

Dame Jean Macnamara Google Doodle

Macnamara dedicated important work in helping to find a vaccine for polio after she witnessed firsthand the effect of the poliovirus on children.

She helped to discover that there was more than one strain of the virus and her contributions led to a direct impact on the development of the polio vaccine in 1955.

This earned her the award of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

In 2018, when she was honored in Melbourne, her daughter, Merran Samuel said,

“Dame Jean was a humble and shy person, who was driven by a sense of duty and service. Educated on a scholarship, she was one of the first two women residents at the Royal Children’s Hospital.”

According to Google, Macnamara “applied her tireless work ethic to better understand and treat various forms of paralysis including polio.”

Below are quick facts you should know about Macnamara:

  • Dame Jean Macnamara was born in Victoria, Australia, on April 1, 1899,
  • She was a teenager during the First World War, which urged her to want “to be of some use in the world.”
  • In collaboration with future Nobel Prize winner Macfarlane Burnet, in 1931, Dr. Macnamara discovered that there was more than one strain of the poliovirus.
  • In 1935, Dr. Macnamara was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).
  • Macnamara was married to a dermatologist Joseph Ivan Connor and had two children with him.
  • She was interested in a way to eradicate rabbits in Australia.
  • She also helped the disabled and invented medical devices.
  • She died in 1968, aged 69 in her South Yarra home.

The doodle with which Google is honouring her depicts Dame Jean Macnamara working directly with children to give them a hope to one day walk without needing crutches, with the two sides of the mirror depicting before and after.


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