"The story of how the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (formerly AAHL) came to be could not be a more timely reminder of how important projects get done. CSIRO Architect William (Bill) Curnow gives us a mesmerizing, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the role serendipity, dogged commitment, and deeply creative juices stirring in a pot of committee-driven stew played in bringing to life a groundbreaking, precedent-setting design for biological containment centres...and through it all is the ever-irrepressible spirit and keen intellect of Bill Curnow, a man not only known for never taking "No" for an answer, but who rarely even acknowledged the naysayers as he smiled, maneuvered, and cajoled his way to the "Yes" answer he knew was right.

I first met Bill Curnow when we were both involved in the design of another type of containment infrastructure - prisons. I was immediately struck by his energy, his intellect, his perseverance, his sense of humour, and most importantly, by what I later came to understand was his kindly patience that allowed the rest of us to catch up with his insights and solutions. Bill is that rare individual who selflessly seems to make every enterprise he's involved in better than it would have been without his participation.

For anyone interested in learning how great projects get done, I urge them to read this book - it is a primer on how to successfully navigate one's way through roadblocks, lesser ideas, and committee governance, while staying true to one's vision and sense of what needs to get done.

The only thing Bill Curnow could never contain is his boundless curiosity and enthusiasm, and for that I, and the world, are forever grateful.

A great read!"

Wayne Calabrese, Calabrese Consulting, Florida, USA

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"I began reading Biosecurity By Design Is No Accident in the rest periods between working on my own book, and found the rest periods expanding. My late night reading also ran later. I genuinely found it a fascinating story and appreciated it being extended beyond the completion of the building."

Robin Kleinschmidt OAM


"Like Australia’s most famous building, the AAHL was a landmark achievement for its architects, engineers and scientists and a significant investment for government. While not as visually arresting as the Sydney Opera House—indeed, its ability to evade attention is one of its key achievements—it is technically far more complex. To replace it today would cost between one and two billion dollars.

It’s a story that encompasses moments of political intrigue, hijinks and humour, as well as long hours of tedious documentation and fact-checking. He recalls a construction office unlike that of today: when all-male crews smoked on site and in offices, unions were powerful, and work safety something of an after-thought. Some lessons have been learned, but there is much still to learn from the construction of the AAHL. Curnow’s detailed records and memory of the building’s realization make that possible.

Bill Curnow, was subsequently engaged as an independent expert by the United Nations on biocontainment infrastructure in India, and by the agricultural departments of Canada and France, and was listed on the Register of Technical Experts of the Commonwealth of Nations - a role no other Australian architect has achieved in any other building type."

Professor Sandra Kaji-O’Grady - Head of the Faculty of Architecture, University of Queensland, Australia


"Bill Curnow has written a vivid and gripping account of the development of Australia’s, and arguably the world’s, most secure biosecurity laboratory and the vital role he played in its establishment.

A fascinating and illuminating part of the story concerns his exposure of ‘behind the scenes’ machinations by government and individuals to further their own interests, and the role government changes and instability lead to frustrating delays. He describes how successive governments failed to provide the funding necessary for the laboratory to reach its full potential. Throughout the book are also neat thumbnail sketches of some of his colleagues and their antics."

Max Kanowski, retired, Reader in Classics, University of Queensland and Freda Kanowski, retired, Thatcher Librarian, University of Queensland


AAHL/ACDP is the story of some 200 architects, engineers and scientists, some 700 construction workers together with administrative and management personnel, brought together and managed to create AAHL/ACDP. There were no regulations for guidance, no blueprints to follow, so we researched, prototyped and modelled our way to the top, on the hop so to speak.

When completed in 1985 AAHL took its place in world rankings alongside CERN - for those looking for fundamental particles and the infinitely small; and alongside Hubble Telescope - for those looking for the infinitely faint, large and distant. AAHL was there for those looking for the infinitely variable and elusive microorganisms. These included prions, fungi, bacteria and viruses - the live/non-live entities that together and individually cause animal diseases. Any one of them is capable of bringing Australia to its knees through loss of export markets or through ill health of its citizens.

In recent times AAHL/ACDP has paid for itself many times over through its ability to deal with microorganisms unimagined at the time in its journey from a truckload of documents known as the PET Report to become the most incredible asset Australia and the world has in the war against SARS, Hendra virus, Avian influenza, and most recently COVID-19.

This is not so much a ‘handbook’ on how to build a BSL-4 laboratory but is a document that recalls some of the politics surrounding the AAHL project and some of the charismatic personalities encountered along the way. Despite several name changes, the vision has not been lost. NLAD to NAHL to ANAHL to AAHL to ACDP and beyond to the STARS!

William (Bill) Curnow, Author of Biosecurity By Design Is No Accident


"In the true sense of the word Bill Curnow was a pioneer. The boy from the bush developed from first principles world class designs and standard that to this day remains the blueprint for containment labs.

AAHL is just one example whereby Bill’s intellect, his inquisitiveness and abstract “can do” attitude to this day continues to transgress across many industries.

He is the ultimate quiet achiever, delivering effective outcomes in a world full of white noise and bravado. I remain humbled and privileged to have known and worked with such a true gentleman and scholar."

Jamie Flood - General Manager, Defence Business Development, Downer Group, Melbourne, Australia

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"Biosecurity By Design Is No Accident is far more than a personal history of the design and construction in the 1970s and 1980s of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, although it accomplishes that function in a comprehensive and interesting fashion. It also reflects on the intersection of engineering and architecture, on effective management styles, on the significance of keeping in balance the demands of the big picture and the most minute detail, on the importance of teamwork, on the impact of political decisions on such projects. It also awakens a new respect for the power of lateral thinking, which is clearly one of the author’s great strengths. The book is a lesson in the outcomes of relentless insistence on the highest standards in every aspect of an enterprise.

Bill’s role of manager of this vast project allows him a perspective available to no one else. He is generous to his colleagues, modest but realistic about his own contribution. He allows the results to speak for themselves. He is proud but regretful to find that the standards achieved by him and his colleagues almost forty years ago have not yet been surpassed.

Although the book traces a project completed many years ago, it does not finish there. There are reflections on world developments in biosecurity and proposals for the future. The writer accepts and embraces the need for constant re-evaluation and improvement even when world standards have been set, and his active mind still grapples with those issues. High quality biosecurity has rarely been more relevant than in the time of a global pandemic caused by an escaped virus.

Behind and within this interesting read are the constant presence and personality of Bill Curnow. In a characteristically idiosyncratic fashion, he gives us a partial picture of the man behind the manager / husband / father / colleague who appreciates those who have made the journey with him.

Sadly, this is a book which is unlikely to reach the wide readership it deserves. It is interesting and accessible to the least technically literate reader, and would satisfy those looking for technical detail.

In all, an admirable achievement."

Robin Kleinschmidt OAM

"Bill Curnow is a veritable chunk of coal that became a diamond in the realm of innovative thought and world’s best application. His legacy, like the ACDP, will be of profound national and international importance, yet deliberately low-key."

Jill Lange-Mohr OAM

A photo of me hand-drawing the 2019 poster headings, May 2019. Geoff then digitized them for the poster & website.

> William (Bill) Curnow AM FRAIA, Australian Architect & Professor, now retired

> 80 year old still on a mission to change the world - avid Citizen Scientist

> In 2003 diagnosed with PD (rigid form) - unable to write, poor walking ability

> 16 years later I’m still walking, talking, writing & driving - I’ve even handwritten & hand-drawn the content (headings, notes, diagrams etc) on this website

> Better now than prior to life-changing antibiotics in 2011

> Attended WPC in Glasgow 2010, Portland 2016 & Kyoto 2019

> I’d love to be in contact with you and am happy to answer any questions - margbillcurnow@yahoo.com.au

2003 / Unable to write, poor walking ability. Diagnosed with PD (rigid form).

2003 / My journey as a Citizen Scientist with regards to PD began. I actively sought out research programs to participate in.

2010 / At WPC Glasgow 2010 there was no mention of potential link between gut bacteria and PD, considered to be purely a brain disfunction.

2011 / I completely lost my PD symptoms for at least 2 weeks after a heavy course of antibiotics including Flagyl infusion. Medical Researchers skeptical even though they filmed me doing practical tests I could not do prior.

2012 / Established ad-hoc PD research group with some of the best medical minds in Australia. I’ve always been proactive.

2016 / Presented my findings in a poster at WPC Portland 2016 - the only poster that mentioned the gut. There were only 2 papers relating to the gut - both Hot Topic subjects.

2017 / No longer taking antibiotics due to Peripheral Neuropathy. Constipation returned & PD got worse.

2017 / Fecal Microbiota Transplant. No noticeable improvement.

2018 / PD symptoms reduced following antibiotic treatment for pneumonia & impacted bowel. Only lasted a fortnight.

2019 / Dr Jim Aylward suggests Golden Kiwi Fruit as a way of modifying the gut. It reduced constipation. Microba tested gut bacteria before and after diet change. Results show significant improvement in bacteria diversity - shown on the graph below.

The modern human is subject to infinitely more challenges to the autoimmune system than 100 years ago. Therefore we need to tackle PD in a collaborative method, drawing on the expertise of many professions, not forgetting the people with PD themselves as they have the greatest motivation of all.

In 2016 ad-hoc team of Curnow (PWP), Borody, Aylward, Silburn, Codd et-al reported research suggesting linkage between gut biome and PD.

Group focus is now on impact of various foods on gut biome and attempting to find linkages between food, biome, health.

Group knows of 4 reliable PWPs whose PD responded positively to antibiotic treatment.

We now need to identify the bacteria that was disabled by the antibiotics, and find ways to do so without the use of antibiotics.

It is 16 years since I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and many areas of my life are much improved over what they were when first diagnosed in 2003.

I realised that most of the research was about treating symptoms and did not attempt to identify the root cause. Unless you understand the true nature of PD you can’t hope to cure it or prevent it from happening in the first place.

So I sought to participate in research projects and latterly in projects of my own making. Although I can’t claim to have cured myself, I have benefited from my research, extending my capacity for life far beyond that which one might reasonably expect.

The process has lead me to use the term Citizen Science, and perhaps my successes will generate interest in the wider PD community to join in the process. Will you become a Citizen Scientist too?

Although this may be interpreted by some as the placebo effect, one can’t argue with the results. I’m living proof.

The medical research profession has been grappling with PD for 200 years without serious break-through.

People with the greatest motivation to make that break-through are PWPs, their carers, family & friends.

All are capable of being Citizen Scientists.

Access to information and other PWPs is readily available thanks to the internet - websites, email and social media.

Groups can access likeminded people and participate in amateur but legitimate research.

The process of Citizen Science greatly multiplies the chances of finding break-throughs by intention or serendipity. The more pairs of sharp eyes observing and scanning the information the higher the likelihood of finding the elusive clue to cracking the secrets of PD.

As the amount of different chemicals continue to multiply exponentially the number of possible interactions between the human, his/her biome and the environment are seemingly endless. We need as many Citizen Scientists on the task as possible.

We need to think outside the square in our approach. We need people capable of putting multidisciplinary teams together to look at complex problems.

Australian General Sir John Monash took the three disparate arms of the British Empire’s defence force and by integration caught the enemy by surprise, turning the tide of WW1. We need a John Monash - that might be you - to lead people with PD, their carers and medical researchers to work collaboratively so that we can turn the tide on PD.

The information contained on this website is the personal experiences of Bill Curnow, who has acted in partnership with his medical specialists. We advise everyone to consult with their medical specialists before, during and after any unilateral action.


(the rigid form), diagnosed in 2003. Now 13 years later I’ve been able to handwrite and draw most of the content on this poster/website, which is a feat in itself.

I’m always up for a challenge and have always got a kick out of problem solving, so I’ve proactively guinea-pigged myself for the last 7 years in research programs with the best medical minds in Australia - all in the search for a better lifestyle for myself and others on this Parkinson’s journey - you and your loved ones included!

I’ve been on the leading edge for every industry I’ve been involved with - scientific, architectural, biomedical, educational, correctional, managerial & more - solving problems, delivering solutions and forging better futures whether for the government or private industry - and even now in retirement.

My busy career was threatened in 2003 with the diagnosis of “Parkinson’s”. By 2007 I was no longer active, or travelling unaided nationally/internationally. Rather than accepting that I had an incurable condition I decided to read scientific papers and ultimately asked my Neurologist if PD could be caused by bacterial toxins.

Methods/Clinical Incident: In 2011 I was hospitalised for bowel obstruction and after antibiotic infusions I noted surprisingly that my PD symptoms virtually disappeared. My notes/drawings before and after treatment graphically illustrated the difference. Silburn (my Neurologist) was surprised when I explained - “Cessation of PD symptoms was like turning off a switch”.

Outcome: After discharge PD absence lasted only 2 weeks. If antibiotics suppressed gut bacteria I postulated their toxins caused PD in the brain and connecting nerves must also be implicated. Via literature I located Borody (Gastroenterologist) who administered IV metronidazole + ceftriaxone and PD again disappeared. Effect tapered somewhat after two weeks. This was followed by oral metronidazole and cefaclor which maintained improvement over months but at a reduced efficacy. In 2014 I noted improved motor function immediately after defecation, perhaps due to reduced gut bacterial load and toxins interacting indirectly with gut neuronal axis according to Aylward [CSIRO scientist]. Measured physical performance before and after treatment confirm empirical observations.

Potential Way Forward: Borody previously noted faecal microbiota transplant (FMT) for constipation led to similar results for 2 PWPs, supporting this hypothesis. Arrival of oral capsules for FMT & PWPs’ observations opens scientifically credible research pathway to better understand the link between gut bacteria, antibiotics, alpha-synuclein, gut-neuronal axis and PD.



The information contained on this website is the personal experiences of Bill Curnow, who has acted in partnership with his medical specialists. We advise everyone to consult with their medical specialists before, during and after any unilateral action.

All research & content © Copyright Bill Curnow
For more information - margbillcurnow@yahoo.com.au

Website, book cover & poster designs by Geoff Rankin
© Copyright 2021