Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any enquiries that are not addressed in the Frequently Asked Questions, please contact us by email.

General Questions

What does the Academy do?

The Academy’s 2019-2022 strategy sets our that our purpose is to advance health and medical research in Australia and its translation into benefits for all, by fostering leadership within our sector, providing expert advice to decision makers, and engaging patients and the public.

Our four strategic objectives set out how we deliver this purpose:

  • Influence policy: Provide independent and research-based expert advice on challenges and opportunities in health, enabling decisions informed by the best available evidence.
  • Nurture talented research leaders: Cultivate an environment in Australia in which future health and medical science leaders can thrive – where they can represent the community in which we work.
  • Celebrate excellence: Promote excellence in all we do, underpinned by an active Fellowship of Australia’s best and brightest researchers, which can reflect the full diversity of health and medical sciences.
  • Support Indigenous health and wellbeing: Strengthen our contribution to improving Indigenous health and wellbeing and the representation of researchers of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent.

How does AAHMS work with the other Learned Academies?

Each of Australia’s Learned Academies operates independently. The Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) provides a forum which Academies come together to to inform national policy and to develop innovative solutions to complex global problems and emerging national needs. AAHMS is currently an observer within ACOLA and we nominate Fellows to participate in ACOLA’s policy projects. 

We work with the other Academies on topics and issues that overlap. When AAHMS was set up, there was close consultation with the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) during the development phase. AAHMS held its first Council meeting at the Shine Dome of the AAS in Canberra. There are some distinguished scientists who are Fellows of both Academies – and also Fellows of the other Learned Academies in Australia. 

How much control does the Government have over the Academy?

The Academy is completely independent of the government. It is not answerable to government, nor will the government control its programs and activities (except that governments may commission and pay for the Academy to undertake particular projects, as an independent and expert body).

That said, the Academy was developed with the explicit and strong support of both the Commonwealth Department of Health and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Aren’t there already a lot of medical research lobby groups?

The Academy is not a lobby group or peak body. It is an independent, authoritative and expert source of information and advice, which is informed by the best available evidence. We are not politically partisan. However, while Fellows do not ‘lobby’ in the name of the Academy, they may make representations to government or other organisations in other roles they may hold.

How does the Academy help to train health and medical scientists for the future?

The Academy operates programs to support further generations of health and medical scientists, including:

  • Our one-to-one Mentorship Program, which provides an independent avenue for supporting career, personal and leadership development to help individuals realise their full potential.
  • Our Life as a Clinician Scientist events, which aim to encourage and inspire medical students, junior doctors and early career researchers to become involved in research, and workshop the skills necessary to succeed in combining clinical practice with medical research.

Future programs will also include career development for mid-career scientists.

What is the difference between this Academy and the specialist medical colleges and medical research institutes?

As the primary representative of health and medical sciences in Australia, the Academy has a very broad base. The Academy brings together individuals who may be members of Australia’s diverse specialist colleges and associations along with researchers and medical educators with a clinical and translational focus.

The Academy is a leadership body and seeks to bring together key stakeholders of the health and medical sciences, including the medical research institutes and other key organisations. We act in an advisory role to stakeholders including governments, providing objective policy advice relating to medical practice and research.

The Academy engages the professional colleges, medical research institutes and Learned Academies in delivering our objectives. 

What is the relationship between the Academy and the various universities?

While Fellows of the Academy may have affiliations with various universities, the Academy itself is impartial and independent of all universities.

When the Academy was established, the Group of Eight universities supported the development phase of the Academy generously. For the first round of elections the Academy invited proposals for fellowship from many universities, in addition to many other key stakeholders (the Australian learned academies; medical research institutes; the Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges and the medical colleges, and some peak health professional organisations).

How does the Academy respond when asked for its opinion?

The Academy has a coordinating role for responses, and seeks input from across the Fellowship before giving its opinion. Our Reports Committee plays an central role in coordinating Academy responses and submissions.

Are Junior or Associate Fellowships available?

We aim to be inclusive and individuals accepted onto our Mentorship Program become Associate Members of the Academy, through which we engage them in various aspects of our work, including our policy projects and development of new careers support programs.

What is the Academy doing about diversity and inclusion in STEM?

The Academy is committed to progressing diversity and inclusion in STEM, particularly the health and medical sciences. Our Diversity and Inclusion Policy is published on our website. It sets out our overarching approach to this important area, which incorporates all our activities, including the Fellowship election, our programs and events, policy work and the way we represent our organisation and the health and medical sciences sector externally, as well as how we act as an employer. 

We monitor progress in this area through an annual report to our Council, to ensure that we are making strong, ambitious progress and that any issues are quickly identified and addressed. 

We have also contributed to the wider sector’s thinking in this area, for example through contributions to the Decadal Plan for Women in STEM

Diversity and inclusion sit at the heart of our organisational strategy. Our purpose states that we aim to advance health and medical research in Australia and its translation into benefits for all. This is underpinned by objectives that, for example, emphasise the importance of developing research leaders able to represent the community in which we work and of supporting Indigenous health and wellbeing. For more information on this, visit our ‘About Us’ page

How does the Academy manage conflicts of interest?

The Academy’s Council has approved a Conflict of Interests Policy, which outlines policies and procedures related to potential conflicts across different areas of the Academy’s work, including the Fellowship election, policy projects, and membership of key Academy committees. A copy of this policy is available on request from the secretariat via the CEO. 

Fellowship Questions

What role do the Fellows play in the Academy?

The Academy is only as strong as the contribution of its Fellows and Associate Members to our activities.

Fellows and Associate Members are encouraged to actively engage with the Academy at every opportunity, to assist in achieving our goal to promote health and medical research and its translation and to enable a healthier community. Fellows may do this by:

  • Providing quality mentorship and role models to the next generation of health and medical researchers, including through support for our Life as a Clinician Scientist events.
  • Projecting an authoritative image of health and medical research and its purpose in the community and to government.
  • Providing a forum for recognised health and medical researchers to meet and to debate issues and provide authoritative and unbiased advice to the community and government to facilitate progress in health.
  • Contributing to governance and oversight of the Academy’s activities through standing for election to our Executive or Council, or through membership of our Committees, currently: Finance, Audit and Risk; Reports; and Mentorship.
  • Participation in the Fellowship election process, including by nominating candidates or becoming a member of a selection committee.

For further information on how to get involved, please contact the CEO, Catherine Luckin.

How do I nominate/become a Fellow of the Academy?

Fellows are elected through an annual competitive election process. Candidates must be nominated by an existing Fellow and we call for nominations annually.

Further information on the process, timelines and criteria for Fellows is available from the Fellowship Information page.

What qualifications are needed to join the Academy?

No formal qualifications are specified for election to Fellowship. However, to be elected as a Fellow, a health and medical scientist would be expected to be highly qualified and have substantial experience consistent with being an Australian and international leader in his or her field.

Further information on criteria for election to the Fellowship is available from our Fellowship Information page.

Do you need medical qualifications to join the Academy?

No. Fellows are elected on the basis of their expertise, contributions and achievements in their discipline or field of research or practice. Many are medically qualified, but the Academy includes Fellows from diverse health fields, including basic biomedical scientists who have a translational component to their work. Further information on criteria for election to the Fellowship is available from our Fellowship Information page.

What age do you have to be to join the Academy?

There are no (lower or upper) age constraints. Health or medical scientists, broadly defined, who are active may be elected to Fellowship. The intention is that a high proportion of Fellows will be at the peak of their scientific endeavours, and that the Academy will be marked by a high level of professional energy, a dynamic program of activities, and a focus on significant achievements. Further information on criteria for election to the Fellowship is available from our Fellowship Information page.

How many Fellows does the Academy have?

There are 357 Fellows, as of October 2018. New Fellows are admitted annually each spring.

How large is the Academy expected to become?

The Council of the Academy anticipates that it will grow, over the next few years, to a fellowship of some 450 to 500 Fellows. The size of the Academy will ultimately be determined by the quality of candidates, not by quotas.

Is entry into the Academy from other streams, e.g. industry, possible?

The Academy encourages nominations from a range of sectors where individuals meet the criteria for Fellowship and we have broad reaching selection committees tasked with reviewing all Fellowship applications. More information is available on our Fellowship Information pages.

What do I need to do if my nomination is unsuccessful?

Candidates who are unsuccessful will automatically remain eligible for election for three years, though their documentation may be updated each year. The Secretariat will contact the Proposer/Nominator to initiate this process.

Mentorship Questions

How does the Academy mentor researchers?

This is an important role of the Academy, and involves one-on-one pairing between experienced health and medical researchers who are Fellows of the Academy and health and medical researchers in training. Further information on the mentorship is available from our Mentorship Program page.

Do mentees need to be clinician researchers?

No.  Those included in the Mentorship Program may have backgrounds in basic science, clinical practice, public health, health services, health program management, health policy, economics, statistics, epidemiology or other disciplines, applied to health and medical science.

Is there an age limit for mentees?

No.  Those admitted to the Academy Mentorship Program will be well advanced in the development of their career, and will have a clear aim to be an independent leader of a research program and an international achiever in health and medical science research. They would normally have gained national or international awards, competitive grants, or achieved academic excellence, and have some evidence of leadership with an upwards career trajectory.

Does the Academy offer any other Programs?

Yes – information on the Academy’s programs is available from our Programs page, which includes information on our ‘Life as a Clinician-Scientist‘ events that take place across Australia, aimed at junior doctors, registrars, fellows and medical students considering an academic career. These events showcase examples of career paths and include skills workshops. We currently host events in NSW, QLD, VIC and WA and attendees are welcome to attend interstate events.

The Academy plans to develop other programs focused on career development for early- and mid-career scientists in the coming years.

Are mentors and mentees expected to meet in person?

Where possible, mentees are paired with local mentors to facilitate face-to-face meetings. Mentors and mentees are not usually chosen from the same facility or institution, to prevent conflicts of interest.

Are mentors paid?

No. Mentorship by Academy Fellows is entirely voluntary.

Do mentees have a choice in who their mentors are?

Mentors and mentees are paired by the Mentorship Committee, based on their location, research interests and other preferences and aspirations indicated by the mentee in their application. There is an opportunity to revise pairings where indicated or due to logistical challenges.

How long do mentorships typically go for?

Formal mentorship is for 3 years, during which mentees become Associate Members of the Academy. We aim to continue to liaising and working with our scheme ‘alumni’ once they complete their three years participating in the scheme.

How often should Mentors and Mentees meet?

Once pairing is finalised, the details of each one-to-one mentoring relationship will be negotiated and agreed by the mentor and mentee.  It is suggested that meetings, however informal, will occur 3-4 times a year.

Do mentors and mentees receive training?

The Academy hosts a Mentorship Workshop in conjunction with our Annual Meeting every spring, during which both mentors and mentees have the opportunity to participate in group sessions designed to promote the training of the mentee and mentor, and to further develop the Academy Mentorship Program. We provide a small number of travel grants each year to assist mentees in attending the event. Further information is available from the Academy’s secretariat.

Supporting the Academy

How is the Academy funded?

The Academy is resourced in three ways.

First, all elected Fellows pay fees.

Second, the Academy is a registered Charity, with gifts eligible for taxation deduction.

Donations, bequests and gifts may support specific programs and projects of the Academy, such as the Mentorship and other career support programs; or they may be for the general support of the operations and activities of the Academy.

Third, in our capacity as an independent, expert and authoritative source of advice, we can receive commissions from governments and industry to prepare and release statements and reports on health and medical issues.

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Why should I donate to the Academy?

Academies like AAHMS rely substantially on gifts and legacies from Fellows and Friends. These enable the Academy to support and expand programs, policy development, publications, education, public awareness and outreach, international activities, awards and fellowships.

As a young Academy, we are growing our activities and will continue to expand our work to respond to the demands we are facing from society, the healthcare sector, government and industry.

Your (tax deductible) donation will help us to do that.

If you would like further information about supporting the Academy or to discuss our work, please board members contact: Prof Ian Frazer, President; Prof Ingrid Scheffer, President-Elect; or Prof Simon Foote, Honorary Treasurer (contact details are available from our Board and Council pages) or the Academy’s CEO, Catherine Luckin (contact details are available on in the Contact Us section).

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How do I make a donation to the Academy?

The Academy is endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as a Deductible Gift Recipient. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the Honorary Treasurer, Prof Simon Foote.

Email: [email protected]

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How do I make a bequest or leave a legacy to the Academy?

As an independent and not-for-profit registered charity, the Academy deeply appreciates every donation received. For a confidential discussion about naming the Academy in your will, please contact the Honorary Treasurer, Prof Simon Foote.

Email: [email protected]

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Does the Academy have any funding programs?

We do not currently operate any funding programs.