Professor Ian Alexander FAHMS
Senior Staff Specialist/Head, Gene Therapy Research Unit, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead
Professor Alexander is head of the Gene Therapy Research Unit, a joint initiative of Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network and Children’s Medical Research Institute in Sydney. Within the hospital he also holds appointments as a senior staff specialist and Director of laboratory research. His training and day-to-day activities in both clinical medicine and laboratory research reflect his interest in translating research progress into improved health outcomes for children. After finishing specialty training in paediatrics he obtained a PhD in Molecular Biology from the Garvan Institute in Sydney before completing clinical genetics training at the Murdoch Institute in Melbourne. He then undertook postdoctoral studies at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, returning to Australia to take up his current position. His specific expertise and interests include virus-mediated gene transfer with a focus on metabolic liver disease and primary immunodeficiencies. He is currently Associate Editor for Human Gene Therapy and The Journal of Gene Medicine and an Editorial Board Member for Molecular Therapy – Methods & Clinical Development. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and a Visiting Professor at University College London. In 2017 he was appointed as Co-Chair, NSW Health Genomics Steering Committee and in 2018 appointed as a member of the NSW Health New Technology and Specialised Services (NTASS) Committee and Commonwealth Health Genomic Screening Working Group of the Standing Committee on Screening.
Emeritus Professor Adrian Bauman FAHMS
Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney
Professor Bauman has extensive experience in prevention and physical activity research. In addition to Sydney University, he has current affiliations with the Australian Prevention Partnership Centre; the University of Newcastle and the Steno Diabetes Centre in Copenhagen. He co-directs the WHO Collaborating Centre on Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity. He is well-published and was named in the 2014-2019 Thompson Reuter (Clarivate) lists of highly cited researchers. His research interests span epidemiological methods, physical activity and public health, population surveillance and program evaluation, the latter focusing on research translation and scaled-up population-level evaluations.
Dr Gareth Baynam
The University of Western Australia
Professor Baynam is a paediatrician, clinical geneticist, genomic policy advisor, patient advocate, clinician scientist and intrapraneur. He equitably implements innovations through multi-stakeholder and public-private partnerships. Professor Gareth Baynam is a Head of the Western Australian Register of Developmental Anomalies (birth defects and cerebral palsy registers), Clinical Geneticist and Program Director of the Undiagnosed Diseases Program WA and Board Member of the Undiagnosed Diseases Network International, and Adjunct Genomics Policy Officer in the Western Australian Health Department. He is affiliated with the University of Western Australia; Curtin University, Murdoch University, Notre Dame University, Melbourne University; and Telethon Kids Institute. He is the Founder of an integrated suit of cross-sector and community engaging initiatives to improve the lives of people living with rare diseases including Project Y, Cliniface and Lyfe Languages. He Chairs and/ or is one the Executive or Advisories of multiple international rare diseases initiatives and precision medicine projects. He is a basketball tragic and a hockey never has been.
Professor Alex Brown is an internationally leading Aboriginal clinician/researcher who has worked his entire career in Aboriginal health in the provision of public health services, infectious diseases and chronic disease care, health care policy and research. He has established three highly regarded research groups over the last 15 years, and currently leads a group of 58 staff (50% of whom identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians). Much of his work has been at the difficult interface of geographical isolation, complex cultural context, severe socioeconomic disadvantage, inequitable access to and receipt of care and profound health disparities, often where little or no research infrastructure previously existed. He has built a research career spanning public health, quantitative clinical epidemiology, mixed-method health service research, qualitative research, and implementation science, with an increasing focus on novel clinical trials in cardiometabolic disease within Indigenous communities.
Professor Brown has led the development of a transdisciplinary program of research focused on documenting the burden and contributors to health inequality in Indigenous Australians, with a primary focus on cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes and cancer. Since commencing at SAHMRI 7 years ago, he has overseen the establishment of an integrated centre of excellence in Indigenous chronic disease and public health research. He leads projects in CVD epidemiology and policy; the social, clinical, and biological correlates of diabetes and its complications; intervention trials; documenting cancer inequalities and how best to overcome them; innovative mixed-methods primary care research; and evaluations of health care models, systems and programs.
Dr Kerry Chant PSM
NSW Ministry of Health
Dr Kerry Chant has extensive public health experience in New South Wales, having held a range of senior positions in NSW Health since 1991. She currently leads the Population and Public Health Division which has accountabilities for a broad portfolio of issues including communicable disease control, prevention of chronic diseases, drug and alcohol, research translation, and health system response to acute and emerging clinical issues.
Dr Chant has a particular interest in blood borne virus infections and communicable diseases prevention and control, and as NSW Chief Health Officer has a key role in the state’s health response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. In 2009, Kerry was praised for her outstanding leadership in the response to the H1N1 (Swine Flu) pandemic; the development and implementation of the NSW HIV strategy for 2012 – 2015; and in preparing NSW Health to respond to a case of Ebola, should the need arise.
For her achievements, she was awarded the Public Service Medal (PSM) in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours for outstanding public service to population health in NSW. She was nominated by Chancellor David Gonski AC.
Professor Allen Cheng is an infectious diseases physician, Director of Infection Prevention and Healthcare Epidemiology at Alfred Health and Professor of Infectious Diseases at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. He has been closely involved in public health policy as Co-Chair of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and Chair of the Advisory Committee on Vaccines. Since January, he has been involved in the response to COVID-19, as an invited expert to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia, and since July as Deputy Victorian Chief Health Officer.
Dr Cho, MD, is the Director of the Charles Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine (CBIPM), Dean of Translational Genetics and the Ward-Coleman Chair for Translational Genetics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Since 2015, Dr. Cho has led the CBIPM, which includes the School’s major biobank, named BioMe. BioMe represents one of the most diverse biobanks in the world and sequencing results underscore the enormous potential of a genetics first strategy in clinical care. With the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic, she has played a lead role in organizing School-wide efforts in genetics and serologic studies, anticipating successful vaccine development in the near-term future. Her own research focuses on integrating genetics and single cell genomics to develop new therapies in inflammatory bowel disease. Single cell technologies are providing an unprecedented new look at human biology; the next phase may well integrate location-specific factors for which existing banks of paraffin-fixed tissues may be productively leveraged. These initiatives reflect the School’s major commitment to Personalized Medicine to improve the care of patients on an individualized basis.
Scientia Professor Christensen (AO) is Director and Chief Scientist at the Black Dog Institute and a Professor of Mental Health at UNSW. She is Chief Investigator for the Centre for Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Elizabeth Blackman Fellow in Public Health, and previously one of only two NHMRC John Cade Research Fellows. She is also on the Million Minds panel, a government initiative that has brought together the most distinguished academics and mental health professionals to reduce the prevalence of mental illness and suicide.
Professor Christensen is a leading expert on using technology to deliver evidence-based interventions for the prevention and treatment of depression, anxiety, suicide, and self-harm. Her research also encompasses prevention of mental health problems in young people through school-based research programs. These programs are aimed at prevention of depression and suicide risk through eMental Health interventions.
Professor Marcel Dinger
The University of New South Wales
Professor Dinger is Professor and Head of School for Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at UNSW Sydney. He has more than 20 years’ experience in genomics as both an academic and entrepreneur. He has published 133 papers that have collectively been cited >19,000 times and is (co)-founder of four startups in biotechnology and IT. Prior to his role at UNSW, Marcel was the Founding Chief Executive Officer of Genome. One, one of the first companies in the world to provide clinical whole genome sequencing services, and inaugural Head of the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics (KCCG) at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research from 2012-2018. In 2016, Marcel was admitted as a Fellow into the Faculty of Sciences of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia. In 2019, Marcel was named in the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list from the Web of Science Group, which recognises scientists who have published a high number of papers that rank in the top 1% most-cited in their respective fields.
Professor Chris Goodnow is Executive Director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, holds The Bill and Patricia Ritchie Foundation Chair as Head of the Immunogenomics Laboratory at Garvan, and is Professor and Director of the Cellular Genomics Futures Institute at UNSW Sydney.
Professor Goodnow discovered, defined key molecular circuits, and established the concept that sequential immune tolerance checkpoints actively prevent the immune system attacking “self” while fighting off “foreign” infections, laying the scientific foundation for targeted arthritis treatments and the recent success of checkpoint inhibitor drugs to activate immune destruction of “altered self” cancer cells. He pioneered the use of mammalian genome sequencing to reveal how the body’s phenotype results from its’ genotype – “phenomics”. Most recently his team have used single cell genomics to discover that rogue immune cells bypass immune tolerance checkpoints to cause autoimmune disease through mutation pathways that also cause lymphoma and leukemia.
Professor Goodnow’s research focuses on understanding the cause of autoimmune diseases and the control mechanisms that normally guide formation of antibodies with desirable specificity, affinity and solubility. His team integrates genetics and genomics technologies with single cell analysis of immune cells and antibodies in people and in mouse models. A key focus is on identifying germline and somatic mutations that allow cells to circumvent immune tolerance checkpoints and produce autoantibodies. His research interests extend to the pathogenesis and targeted therapies for COVID-19, lymphoma and leukemia, and identifying immune tolerance checkpoint inhibitors for cancer immunotherapy.
Professor Michelle Haber AM FAHMS
Children’s Cancer Institute
Professor Haber is Executive Director of Children’s Cancer Institute and is highly regarded as one of Australia’s leading childhood cancer researchers. She has spent her entire career developing novel therapeutic and diagnostic approaches to improving the outcome of children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and neuroblastoma – the commonest cancers of childhood and infancy, respectively. Professor Haber has identified and validated several childhood cancer molecular targets, using both in vitro and murine models, as well as primary patient samples, and has established a high throughput chemical small molecule drug discovery screening program that has identified promising new inhibitors of these targets. She is a world leader in preclinical trials of novel therapeutics in mouse models of neuroblastoma and due to her strong translational focus, collaborates closely with clinical partners to translate these through to clinical trial. Professor Haber was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2007 for services to science, scientific education and the community and from 2010-2012, served as President of the international Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Association, the peak international society for neuroblastoma research. Further notable achievements include being one of four New South Wales Finalists for Australian of the Year in 2011, being awarded the NSW Premier’s Cancer Researcher of the Year in 2014 and being appointed an Inaugural Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences in 2015. Prof Haber successfully led the development and roll-out of Australia’s first Zero Childhood Cancer national personalised medicine program, currently available to children with the most aggressive malignancies. This program will be made available to every child and young adult with cancer in Australia, by 2023.
Professor Julie Leask
The University of Sydney
Professor Leask PhD, MPH is professor and social scientist in the Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney. Julie has qualifications in public health, nursing and midwifery. Her research focuses on risk communication, responding to vaccine hesitancy and refusal, and strengthening vaccination programs and policy and she has 136 publications in the field. She is visiting professorial fellow at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance. Julie is chair of the WHO Working Group on Measuring Behavioural and Social Drivers of Vaccination. She sits on the WHO Immunization and Vaccines related Implementation Research advisory committee and the South East Asia Regional Immunization Technical Advisory Group. She was named winner of the Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence in 2019.
Professor Maher is a Program Head at the Kirby Institute, Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at UNSW Sydney, NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, and Honorary Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Burnet Institute. Professor Maher has three decades of international experience in harm reduction and the prevention of infectious disease in vulnerable populations and has provided technical advice to the WHO, UNAIDS, UNODC, AusAID, DFID, the World Bank, the Global Fund, and the US CDC.
Professor McCaw is Professor of Mathematical Biology and Epidemiology at the University of Melbourne, working at the interface between mathematics, epidemiology and public health. Collaborating with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing since 2006, his research has helped shape Australia’s pandemic response plans. During the COVID-19 crisis, he has worked as a member of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee in managing the national response.
Dr Brendan Murphy commenced as the Secretary of the Department of Health on 13 July 2020.
Prior to his appointment as Secretary, Brendan was the Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Government and prior to this, the Chief Executive Officer of Austin Health in Victoria.
Dr Murphy is a Professorial Associate with the title of Professor at the University of Melbourne; an Adjunct Professor at Monash University; a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences; a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians; and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
He was formerly CMO and director of Nephrology at St Vincent’s Health, and sat on the Boards of the Centenary Institute, Health Workforce Australia, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. He is also a former president of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology.
Professor Kathryn North AC FAHMS
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Professor North is trained as a paediatric physician, neurologist and clinical geneticist and was awarded a doctorate for research in neurogenetics. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Harvard Genetics Program.
Professor North is a national and global leader in genomic medicine. She leads Australian Genomics, an NHMRC-funded national network of 80 institutions around Australia, with the goal of developing evidence and practical strategies to embed genomic medicine in the Australian health system. She is Vice Chair of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, a collaborative network of over 500 organisations across 100 countries.
Professor North served as Chair of the NHMRC Research Committee from 2012-2018, and currently chairs the International Advisory Board of the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (UK). She has received a number of awards for her research including the GSK Australia Award for Research Excellence (2011), the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research (2012) and a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia (2012). In 2014 she was appointed as a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science and in 2019 she was awarded a Companion (AC) of the Order of Australia In recognition of her eminent service to genomic medicine and medical research.
Professor Nutbeam’s career has spanned senior leadership positions in universities, government, health services and international organisations including WHO and the World Bank. He was formerly Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, Provost of the University of Sydney, and Head of Public Health for the UK Government. He is a public health scientist with research interests in the social and behavioural determinants of health, and in the development and evaluation of public health interventions. His current research focusses on the development and testing of interventions to improve health literacy in different populations.
Professor Margaret Otlowski
University of Tasmania
Professor Otlowski is a Professor of Law at the University of Tasmania (formerly Law Dean 2010-2017) and Deputy Director of the Centre for Law and Genetics. She also serves as Pro Vice Chancellor (Culture, Wellbeing and Sustainability). She has been admitted to practice and has held quasi-judicial roles including as member of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. She has longstanding experience in health law and ethics, publishing extensively in the field, and has been engaged by Commonwealth and State governments and agencies as consultant and member for various committees including as member of the NHMRC’s Human Genetics Advisory Committee and Australian Health Ethics Committee. In 2015 she was made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. She is currently a member of the Australian Research Integrity Committee and the Patron for Tasmanian Women Lawyers.
Professor Simone Pettigrew
The George Institute for Global Health
Professor Simone Pettigrew holds a Bachelor of Economics, a Master of Commerce, and a PhD in Consumer Research. She specialises in behaviour change strategies and has a research background in health promotion, behavioural psychology, social marketing, and health policy. Her work has a particular focus on health issues relating to nutrition, physical activity, alcohol, and tobacco, and often involves vulnerable groups including the aged, children, and those experiencing various forms of disadvantage.
Professor Ingrid Scheffer AO FRS FAA PresAHMS
The University of Melbourne and Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health
Professor Scheffer is a physician-scientist whose work as a paediatric neurologist and epileptologist at the University of Melbourne and Florey Institute has led the field of epilepsy genetics over more than 20 years, in collaboration with Professor Samuel Berkovic and molecular geneticists. This resulted in identification of the first epilepsy gene and many more genes subsequently. Professor Scheffer has described many novel epilepsy syndromes and performed genotype–phenotype correlation. She recently played a key role in the first major reclassification of the epilepsies in two decades as Chair of the International League Against Epilepsy Commission for Classification and Terminology.
Professor Scott holds the Chair in Gynaecological Cancer at the University of Melbourne and is Joint Division Head of Clinical Translation and a Laboratory Head at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and Medical Oncologist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Royal Women’s and Royal Melbourne Hospitals. She has 25 years’ experience in clinical cancer genetics, including working in Familial Cancer Clinics. Her clinical expertise is in gynaecological cancers and coordinating care for patients with rare cancers. Her laboratory focuses on drug resistance in ovarian cancer and other rare cancer types, generating patient-specific models to understand and avert resistance to targeted therapeutics. In particular, she has been a leader in developing PARP inhibitor therapy for ovarian cancer, which has resulted in unprecedented efficacy. She has 105 career publications with an H-Index of 60.
Professor Scott chairs the COSA Rare Cancer group and the Board of the International Rare Cancer Initiative (IRCI) and has been awarded Clinical Fellowships from the Victorian Cancer Agency (2011, 2017), the Sir Edward Dunlop Cancer Research Fellowship from the Cancer Council Victoria (2012) and in 2018, the Jeannie Ferris Recognition Award in Gynaecological Cancer from Cancer Australia. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.
Professor Chris Semsarian AM FAHMS
Professor Semsarian is a cardiologist with a specific research focus in the genetic basis of cardiovascular disease. He trained at the University of Sydney, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. A focus area of his research is in the investigation and prevention of sudden cardiac death in the young, particularly amongst children and young adults. Professor Semsarian has an established research program which is at the interface of basic science, clinical research and public health, with the ultimate goal to prevent the complications of genetic heart diseases in our community.
Professor Semsarian is the co-lead of the Cardiovascular Genetic Diseases Flagship of Australian Genomics. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications, in the highest-ranking cardiovascular and general medical journals. He has also been the primary supervisor of over 30 PhD, honours, and medical honours students since 2003, and is an active member of the mentoring program at the University of Sydney, particularly in supporting gender equity. He has led major community programs in the area of prevention of sudden death, including having defibrillators in all public places including sporting grounds, as well as organised programs to teach CPR to all members of the community. Professor Semsarian was awarded a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) on January 26, 2017 for significant service to medicine in the field of cardiology as a clinician, administrator and educator, and to the community.
Professor Tania Sorrell AM FAHMS
The Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity
Professor Sorrell is Professor of Clinical Infectious Diseases, Director of the Marie Bashir Institute for infectious Diseases and Biosecurity and Deputy Dean, Sydney Medical School, the University of Sydney, Australia; Director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead, NSW; and Service Director, Infectious Diseases and Sexual Health, Western Sydney Local Health District. She has had a longstanding clinical interest in mycology and infections in the immunocompromised host and a more recent interest in emerging infectious diseases. Her research has focussed on the pathogenesis of fungal infections, emerging fungal diseases, new antifungal drug development, new diagnostics and clinical trials of antifungal diagnostic and treatment strategies. She has served on state and national advisory committees in Infectious Diseases and therapeutics and the Research and Human Ethics Committees of NHMRC.
Dr Swan hosts The Health Report on the ABC’s Radio National, which is the world’s longest running health programme in the English speaking world. And since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, Norman has co-hosted Coronacast, a daily podcast answering listeners questions and covering COVID research. Coronacast has been at the top of the Apple podcast charts for several weeks with millions of downloads. Norman also appears on 7.30, Midday and News Breakfast on ABC Television and has won many awards for his work including Australia’s top prize for journalism, the Gold Walkley. He was the third person to be awarded the prestigious medal of the Australian Academy of Science and was given an honorary MD by the University of Sydney on its 150th anniversary.
Norman trained in medicine in Scotland and paediatrics in London and Sydney before joining the ABC and has hosted many other programmes on radio and television. He has made several Four Corners, the most recent being on out of pocket expenses in health care. Norman was the medical host on Channel Ten’s Biggest Loser for six seasons and created, wrote and narrated Invisible Enemies, a four part series on disease and civilisation for Channel 4 UK and broadcast in 27 countries. He has consulted to the World Health Organisation and has been the Australian correspondent for both the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Professor Robyn Ward AM FAHMS
The University of Sydney
Professor Ward AM FAHMS joined the University of Sydney in July 2018 as the inaugural Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health and Pro Vice-Chancellor. In the preceding 4 years, she was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Executive Dean (Acting) of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Queensland.
Professor Ward is an academic leader, cancer researcher and medical oncologist. She chairs the Commonwealth Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC), and serves on the Council and Executive of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. In 2013 she was made Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to medical research and patient care in the field of oncology.
Professor Wilson is the Chair of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee for the Australian Government. He is the Co-Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, and Professor of Public Health in the Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney and Director of the NHMRC Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (Sax Institute). He has specialist qualifications in public health and clinical medicine, and a PhD in epidemiology.
His research interests concern the application of epidemiology to informing decision making in clinical medicine, public health, and health service policy and planning. His papers and reports include aspects of prevention and management of chronic disease, evaluation of the effectiveness and responsiveness of health care and the impact of social and physical environment on health.