Kaarene Fitzgerald lost her battle with cancer in 2003. Kaarene founded the Sudden Infant Death Research Foundation in Victoria, Australia, following the death of her son Glen in 1977. She was co-founder and director of SIDS and Kids Australia, co-founder and Director of SIDS International (SIDSI) and Chairman and founder of the Global Strategy Task Force (GSTF).

In 1999 she received Australia's highest award, a Companion in the Order of Australia, for her work in promoting research into SIDS and her world wide efforts to develop research and education strategies to reduce infant mortality.

Kaarene had a particular interest in research and encouraged young researchers to enter the field. She was very keen for the award in her memory to be given to a researcher in recognition of their work. ISPID's New Investigator Award has been named after Kaarene Fitzgerald, in memory of her great achievements.