December newsletter

“The challenges presented by climate change require smart, holistic and cross-disciplinary thinking.” – ACOLA

Welcome to the December newsletter. In this edition:

A message from our President

As the year draws to a close, many of us find ourselves reflecting on the past 12 months. The past year posed many challenges, but there have also been some great outcomes – our online annual meeting attracted the largest audience ever, the value of health and medical research and innovation has been central to Australia’s ongoing path through the pandemic, and our Learned Academy status has enabled more collaboration and reach for AAHMS.


This year also saw the Academy award its inaugural Medal for Outstanding Female Researcher, recognising the incredible achievements of women in health and medical sciences. Nominations are now open for this award, which was established by the Academy as part of our commitment to promote and advance diversity and inclusion in health and medical sciences, by recognising researchers who identify as women and have made ground-breaking discoveries. Nominees and nominators do not need to be Fellows of the Academy, so please consider making a nomination or sharing this award among your networks.

Nominations are also open for the Jian Zhou Medal, which recognises rising stars in health and medical science who are making a significant impact in translational medical science. The recipient will be a postdoctoral researcher within 15 years of achieving their PhD (or equivalent first research higher degree) at the time of nomination.

The Academy’s major policy project, Harnessing research for better health, is nearing the end of its evidence collection phase. If you have not yet completed the associated survey, please consider spending just 15 minutes doing so before mid-December. The survey will help the working group learn more about the critical barriers we face and opportunities for research within the health system. Find it on our website, or learn more about the project on our policy page.

Responding to outcomes from COP26 and Australia’s path to net-zero emissions, we were delighted to partner with ACOLA and the other Learned Academies to make a public statement regarding our collective commitment to mitigating climate change. The statement highlights ongoing work from the five academies, including our work exploring the impacts on health. Read the ACOLA statement on our website.

I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season with family and friends in person. I hope you have some downtime to relax and regroup for the year ahead. Please feel free to get in touch via the contacts at the end of this newsletter if you have any feedback.

With warm wishes,


Professor Ingrid Scheffer AO FRS FAA PresAHMS


Professor Matthew Kiernan won the RPA Foundation Research Medal.

Professor Sherene Loi won the Prime Minister’s Awards for Science Life Scientist of the Year.

Professor Jamie Cooper was appointed Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor.

Professor Ian Hickie was awarded the 2021 Australian Mental Health Prize.

Professor Michael Berk was elected to the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

Fellows in the news

Professor Anton Peleg discussed COVID-19 in hospitals on The Project.

Professor Sherene Loi’s Prime Minister’s Awards for Science win was covered by AAPThe AustralianCosmosWomen Love Tech and Sky News.

The effectiveness of Professor Ian Frazer’s cervical cancer vaccine has been highlighted in recent Lancet publication, and covered in The Courier-Mail.

Professor Kathryn North has been appointed as the new AAMRI President.

Professor Stephen Duckett wrote for The Conversation on vaccinations and access to healthcare. His comments were also covered by many mainstream media outlets.

Associate Member Associate Professor Margie Danchin spoke to 7 News about children, COVID-19 vaccines and rapid antigen tests.

Professor Danchin also co-authored a piece for The Age with Fellows Professors Brendan Crabb and Andrew Steer. They discussed the importance of keeping COVID-19 infection in children low.

Professor Danchin also led a study on COVID-19 wellbeing, and was quoted in an article in The Age discussing schoolyard bullying and COVID.

Professor Fran Baum wrote for Croakey on the challenges of the closure of the  Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity.

New Fellow Professor Andrew Whitehouse published new research on gut health and autism. It was covered in The ConversationThe West AustralianABCThe Australian and UQ News.

New Fellow Professor Louise Maple-Brown was profiled by CREHIPP.

New Fellows Professors Jodie Dodd and Helen Marshall were celebrated by The University of Adelaide.

New Fellow professor Christine Jenkins spoke to Medicine Today about COVID-19 and smoking.

Professor Andrew Steer spoke to ABC Radio about a new study that found rheumatic heart disease could be reduced by regular antibiotic treatment.

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