April 2023 newsletter

A message from our President

Friday 7 April was World Health Day, which this year had the theme of “health for all”. Health equity remains a priority for the Academy, our purpose being to advance research and innovation in Australia to improve everyone’s health. We published a news article on our website drawing attention to some of our work on this issue, including through our 2022 report, “Research and innovation as core functions in transforming the health system.”

Health equity will also be at the forefront of discussions at our Annual Meeting, to be held in Brisbane on 12-13 October, with the theme “driving health equity”. We look forward to announcing an exciting program and registration details soon, but until then, I urge you to save the date for our flagship event of the year.

This Saturday, 15 April, we will hold our NSW Life as a Clinician-Scientist symposium in Sydney. Designed to encourage and inspire medical and health students, junior clinicians and early-career researchers, these events highlight the careers of leading clinician-scientists and offer opportunities for attendees to seek advice and network with these experts. If you are based in Sydney, I encourage you share the details of the event to help us reach as many budding clinician-scientists as possible. Learn more on our event webpage.

We have also opened registration for our Queensland Life as a Clinician-Scientist event on 6 May, and again, to those based in Queensland, please share this event with your relevant networks. Learn more about our Queensland event.

Nominations will close on 30 April for our Jian Zhou Medal. Awarded annually to a rising star of Australian health and medical research, this award recognises an individual making a significant impact in translational science. Nominees must be a postdoctoral researcher within 15 years of completing their PhD. Learn more on the award website.

Finally, congratulations to all Fellows and Associate Members recognised in the recent NHMRC Excellence and Biennial awards. Fellows Professor Susan Davis, Professor Louisa Degenhardt and Professor Caroline Homer received 2022 Research Excellence Awards, along with Associate Member Professor Gregory Fox, while Professor Doug Hilton was the recipient of the 2023 NHMRC Outstanding Contribution Award. Well-deserved recognition for all.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Steve Wesselingh PresAHMS

Health Horizons Forum: Innovation in Mental Health

What innovations have had the greatest impact on mental health prevention, treatment, and care in Australia – and what has the greatest potential to make a difference in the future?

These were some of the discussions that took centre stage at the Health Horizons Forum: Innovation in Mental Health on 9 March. This cross-sector roundtable discussion focused on innovation in the mental health sector, focusing on identifying new Australian innovations, how to foster future innovations, and strategies to overcome barriers to implementation.

Hosted by AAHMS and Saltire Capital Partners, in partnership, the event was co-chaired by Professor Maree Teesson AM FASSA FAHMS, Director of The Matilda Centre, and ABC All in the Mind host Sana Qadar. The discussions were captured by graphic recording company, Visual Storytellers.

It was the first time the Academy has hosted an event that brought together research and innovation experts from across the mental health sector, and a more detailed report is in development for publication shortly. Read more about the event on our website.

Jian Zhou Medal nominations closing soon 

Nominations for the Academy’s Jian Zhou Medal close on 30 April. Awarded annually to a rising star of Australian health and medical research, this award recognises an individual making a significant impact in translational science. Nominees must be a postdoctoral researcher within 15 years of completing their PhD. Consideration will be given to individuals whose career has been interrupted, delayed or otherwise constrained through reasons including, but not limited to illness, childbearing, child-caring or other caring responsibilities. You do not need to be a Fellow to nominate or be nominated. Learn more on the award website.

Sector news and opportunities

Identifying Australia’s research commercialisation priorities
The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) is seeking experts to contribute to a survey exploring research commercialisation priorities in Australia. Experts are invited to identify up to three current and emerging areas of research that display strong translation and commercialisation potential in Australian industry. The identified areas must be critical for the Australian economy today, or have the potential to become critical within the next 10 years, and should leverage Australia’s research or industry strengths in the global economy. Survey results will be used to inform government of commercialisation and translation opportunities. Survey closes Thursday 20 AprilTake the ATSE survey online.

Premier’s Science Awards – SA
Applications for the South Australia Premier’s Science Awards close 21 April. Winners receive prize money to support future work or career aspirations—$25,000 each for the South Australian Scientist of the Year and South Australian Innovator of the Year, and $10,000 each for the remaining winners.  Learn more on the awards website.

Premier’s Science Awards – WA
The Western Australia Premier’s Science Awards is also open for applications, with nominations closing 27 April. There are six categories across the areas of scientific research, study and STEM engagement, with $100,000 in total prize money. Find more information on the awards website.

ATSE Traditional Knowledge Innovation Award
ATSE has announced a new national award to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander innovators who solve modern problems through the application of Traditional Knowledge. Nominations close 29 May. Find more information on the ATSE website.


Professor Alex Brown has been appointed to the CSIRO board. A proud member of the Yuin nation, Professor Brown is believed to be the first Indigenous scientist to be appointed.

Professor Di Yu was awarded the Jacques Miller Medal, an honour from the Australian Academy of Science.

Several Fellows and an Associate Member were recognised at the recent NHMRC Research Excellence and Biennial AwardsProfessor Doug Hilton received the NHMRC Outstanding Contribution Award in recognition of his transformative leadership and advocacy for Australian health and medical research. Professor Susan Davis received the NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Awards – Clinical Medicine and Science (Leadership), Professor Louisa Degenhardt received the NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Awards – Public Health (Leadership), Professor Caroline Homer received the NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Awards – Health Services (Leadership), and Associate Member Professor Gregory Fox received the NHMRC David Cooper Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Award.

Fellows in the News

Professor Nicholas Fisk authored a piece on research integrity reform for Campus Morning MailThe article addresses the current NHMRC/ARC review of the Australian Research Integrity Committee.

Professor Louise Baur discussed the findings of the World Obesity Federation’s 2023 atlas – she is president of the organisation. The report was covered on multiple outlets, including the World Economic Forum and The Economist podcast.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse wrote about the importance of play for autistic children in The Conversation. He also spoke to ABC Afternoons.

Professor Louisa Degenhardt spoke to Dr Norman Swan on ABC’s The Health Report about an increased number of people injecting drugs.

Professor Di Yu was profiled by UQ following his Jacques Miller Medal win.

Professor Brendan Crabb co-authored a piece for The Conversation regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The article was covered by multiple news outlets.

Professor Sherene Loi contributed to an article in New Scientist about the rise of cancer in young people.

Professors Fran Baum and Sharon Friel have contributed to a Lancet series on the commercial determinants of health. The articles are available via open access.

Professor Baum also wrote for Croakey about Robodebt and climate change activism for public health.

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