Dr Cherrell Hirst AO

Honorary award citation


Dr Cherrell Hirst AO is an exemplary University of Queensland alumna whose leadership in health, research, education and business has changed countless lives in Australia and internationally.

After graduating from UQ in medicine and surgery in 1969, Dr Hirst established a career as a clinician in Brisbane and Canada. 

In 1982 she was appointed inaugural deputy director of Brisbane’s new Wesley Breast Clinic. Two years later she became director of the not-for-profit centre, which then averaged six patients per day and employed four full time equivalent staff. 

As director for 17 years, Dr Hirst collaboratively guided it to become a service with over 100 patients per day, scores of staff, and a troop of volunteers. Significantly, it was Australia’s first breast screening clinic to offer a comprehensive free program of emotional support and education to women with breast cancer, and their families.

During this period Dr Hirst also co-authored research papers and international conference presentations, served on community and corporate boards, and returned to UQ to study education. 

When time came to retire from the breast clinic, Dr Hirst turned her focus more keenly towards board duties. She has emerged as a stalwart of governance and capital-raising in Australian biotechnology, where her blended expertise as a clinician, researcher and health administrator has come to the fore. 

Organisations she has helped develop include university spin-outs producing innovations ranging from a treatment for head lice and non- melanotic skin cancers, to early detection of lymphedema.

Since 2014 Dr Hirst has held the key role of chair of the Advisory Board of UQ’s first life sciences institute, the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Her vast array of responsibilities this century has also included an independent state-wide review of Queensland maternity services; and board positions with major insurers and health insurers, Opera Queensland, and the Australian Government’s Education Investment Fund Advisory Board. 

Her peers in business and science have recognised her with many honours, such as an Australian Institute of Company Directors Gold Medal, and Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

Additionally, she was 1995 Queenslander of the Year, and became Officer of the Order of Australia in 1998.

Throughout her career, Dr Hirst has used her standing in the health and business sectors to amplify her service to education. She was Queensland’s first female university Chancellor, at Queensland University of Technology, and was a Trustee of Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School for 16 years – including 10 as chair.
She has also been a valued mentor to many younger women.

Chancellor, I present to you Dr Cherrell Hirst, Officer of the Order of Australia, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Educational Studies of this University, Doctor of the University honoris causa of Southern Cross University, Doctor of the University honoris causa of Griffith University, Doctor of the University honoris causa of Queensland University of Technology, Doctor of the University honoris causa of University of the Sunshine Coast,  Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, for the award of Doctor of Life Sciences honoris causa, bestowed by the Senate of The University of Queensland.


Doctor of Life Sciences honoris causa


Bachelor of Educational Studies