February 2023 newsletter

A message from our President

Welcome back – 2023 has only just begun, and while it has been a positive start to the year for many, in recent days we have all been shocked by the devastation unfolding in Türkiye and Syria as the impact from the recent earthquake continues to unfold. Our thoughts are with those affected, as well as the international health and medical community as rescue and recovery efforts continue.

On a more positive note, the Academy has several new initiatives and achievements to celebrate within the Fellowship. I am pleased to highlight some of these announcements in this newsletter, including:

We are beginning to look ahead to major Academy events for the year, including a new look for our expanded Life as a Clinician-Scientist symposia. Now in its eighth year, this popular event series aims to inspire medical and clinical students, junior clinicians and early career researchers who are interested in combining a career in patient care with scientific research. These events are always well received, and I look forward to sharing dates for events across the country soon.

Nominations are closing soon (28 February) for our Medal for Outstanding Female Researcher. This prestigious award recognises a leading woman researcher who has made one or more exceptional contributions to health and medical sciences in Australia. Visit the award website for more information.

Finally, it is with sadness that I reflect on the passing of two of our eminent Fellows late last year – Professor George Patton AO FAHMS and Professor Allan Cripps AO FAHMS. Many of you had the pleasure of working with George and Allan, who made global contributions to the fields of adolescent health and mucosal immunology, respectively. Their loss is felt across the Fellowship, and the wider health and medical research community. Our thoughts are with their family, friends and colleagues.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Steve Wesselingh PresAHMS

Fellows celebrated with Order of Australia honours

Order of Australia honours 2023 - images of 9 Fellows honoured

We warmly congratulate the nine Fellows recognised for their outstanding contributions to health, research and innovation in the 2023 Order of Australia honours.

Professor Melissa Little AC FAHMS was appointed Companion (AC) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for eminent service to medical research through pioneering contributions to regenerative therapies for kidney disease, and to stem cell medicine.

Four Fellows were appointed as Officers (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

  • Professor Warwick Anderson AO FAHMS (Hon) was appointed for distinguished service to health and medical research organisations, and to professional associations
  • Professor Clare Collins AO FAHMS was appointed for distinguished service to nutritional health and dietetics research and communication, and to scientific organisations.
  • Professor Mark Cook AO FAHMS was appointed for distinguished service to neurological medicine and research through contributions to the treatment of epilepsy.
  • The late Professor George Patton AO FAHMS was appointed posthumously for distinguished service to psychiatry and developmental epidemiology, to youth health and wellbeing, and to mental health research. 

Four Fellows were appointed as Members (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

  • Emeritus Professor Stephen Duckett AM FASSA FAHMS was appointed for significant service to public health policy and management, and to tertiary education.
  • Professor Pat Dudgeon AM FAHMS was appointed for significant service to Indigenous mental health and wellbeing, and to education.
  • Professor Gail Risbridger AM FAHMS was appointed for significant service to medical research and administration, and to education.
  • Dr Norman Swan AM FAHMS was appointed for significant service to the broadcast media as a science and health commentator.

Welcome to our newest mentees

The Medal for Outstanding Female RFour rising research leaders with expertise in genomics, psychology, epidemiology and nephrology have joined our competitive Mentorship Program.

These health and medical research stars will be paired with a mentor from the AAHMS Fellowship to support their career and leadership development.

Mentees become Associate Members of the Academy for three years, allowing them access to training, support and networking opportunities, as well as the opportunity to contribute to Academy policy projects and activities. The four new AAHMS Mentees are:

  • Associate Professor Pascal Duijf, Associate Professor and Research Group Leader, Queensland University of Technology
  • Associate Professor Kristin Gainey, Associate Professor, School of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia
  • Professor Gavin Pereira, Professor of Epidemiology, Discipline Lead – Health Economics, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Data Analytics, Curtin University
  • Professor Natasha Rogers, Head of Transplantation/Head, Kidney Injury Group, Westmead Hospital/Westmead Institute for Medical Research;  Professor of Nephrology and Transplantation Medicine at University of Sydney

We look forward to working with these Mentees over the next three years.

Evidence for long COVID and repeated infections inquiry

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport has begun an inquiry examining long COVID and repeated infections. Experts from AAHMS and the Australian Academy of Science will present evidence at an expert roundtable at Parliament House to inform the inquiry on 17 February, with the event livestreamed from 1pm to 5pmFind out more about the livestream on the Parliament House website.

Mental health roundtable – Health Horizons Forum

The first roundtable in the Health Horizons Forum will be held on 9 March, bringing together Fellows and other cross-discipline experts to discuss innovation in mental health.

The roundtable will explore recent innovations in mental health, potential future innovations that promise to make an impact, and barriers to innovation and implementation in the sector.

The event is one of four horizon scanning roundtables being held in partnership with Saltire Capital Partners throughout the year as part of the Health Horizons Forum. Each roundtable will examine a different topic in health, research and innovation – identifying the next big ideas that could transform the health of the Australian community in the coming decades.

Sector news and opportunities

Nominations closing for 2023 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science
Nominations for the 2023 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science close this Thursday 9 February at 5:00pm AEDT. The Prizes recognise accomplishments in scientific research, research-based innovation and science teaching. The prizes include the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science ($250,000), Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation ($250,000), Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year ($50,000), the Malcom McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year ($50,000) and Prize for New Innovators ($50,000). Find out more and nominate on the government website.

The Australian Academy of Science Public Speaker Series
The first event in the Australian Academy of Science Public Speaker Series for 2023 will take place on 14 February. Theis year’s theme is ‘Looking back, moving forward: Indigenous knowledges informing our modern world.’ Professor Tom Calma AO FAA FASSA, an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group, will host the first event in the series – a discussion panel on how Indigenous knowledges informs our understanding of topics including climate change, agriculture and astronomy. Join in-person at The Shine Dome or online 5:30pm AEDT 14 FebruaryTickets available for this event or for the entire speaker series on the AAS website.

Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium
The 9th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium ‘Connecting research, practice & communities’ is will be held in Canberra on 20-21 June and the call for abstracts is now open. The Symposium will focus on rural and remote health research that informs strategic health policy and health service challenges in rural and remote Australia. Presentations are sought from emerging and active researchers. Visit the symposium website for guidelinesThe call for abstracts close 20 February.

Australian Science Policy Fellowship Program
Applications for the 2023-24 Australian Science Policy Fellowship Program will be open from 8 February to 7 March. The program gives early- and mid-career scientists the opportunity to work in an Australian Government department for up to 12 months. Applicants must be an Australian citizen, hold a STEM PhD and be no more than 15 years post PhD completion. Further details about the program can be found on the website of Australia’s Chief Scientist.

Virchow Prize for Global Health
Nominations are now open for the 2023 Virchow Prize for Global Health. The €500,000 international award honours significant contributions towards strengthening global health through lifetime achievements and long-standing engagement. Nominations close 31 March. Apply on the Virchow Prize website.


Three Fellows have been appointed to the new National Women’s Health Advisory Council to examine the unique challenges that women and girls experience in the health system. Congratulations Professor Gita Mishra, Professor Robyn Norton and Professor Susan Davis.

Professor Harriet Hiscock has been named in the NHMRC 10 of the Best publication for 2022, highlighting her research on autism, ADHD, sleep and child health.

Professor Eric Morand received the Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation 2022, in the Life Science category, along with colleague Associate Professor Joshua Ooi.

Professor Ian Alexander received the Peter Willis Medal at the Research Australia Health and Medical Research Awards in December.

Fellows in the News

Tributes for the late Professor George Patton and late Professor Allan Cripps have celebrated the impressive lives and legacies of both men. Professor Patton was remembered in obituaries published in The Lancet and Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne; tributes for Professor Cripps include obituaries published by Griffith University and The Gold Coast Bulletin.

  • AAHMS President Professor Steve Wesselingh spoke to The Advertiser about the importance of embedding research in healthcare and the Academy’s recent Vision report.
  • Professor Stephen Duckett spoke to ABC Radio National about proposed Medicare changes and joined a panel on this topic for National Press Club.
  • Could phage therapy help battle antimicrobial resistance? Professor Anton Peleg discussed this with The Age.
  • Professor Andrew Steer spoke to ABC about Strep A infections in children.
  • Professor Georgina Long spoke to several news outlets about a promising mRNA melanoma vaccine, including ABCSky NewsNetwork 10 and 9News.
  • Professor Anushka Patel has been appointed CEO of The George Institute for Global Health.
  • In COVID news, Professor Brendan Crabb discussed the cost of COVID in the community with the ABC. Professor Jodie McVernon was quoted in the Herald Sun about possible future COVID boosters. Professor Kristine Macartney co-wrote an article for The Conversation to address concerns over side effects from COVID vaccines, and Professor Peter Doherty wrote an opinion article on what we got wrong with COVID-19 for The Saturday Paper.. 
  • Professor Maria Makrides spoke to Dr Norman Swan on ABC Radio National’s The Health Report about fish oil supplements during pregnancy.
  • The ABC spoke to Professor Andrew Whitehouse about new national guidelines on autism.
  • Professor Sharon Friel wrote an article on planetary health equity for the Journal of Climate Change and Health.
  • Professor Ian Hickie wrote an opinion article on changes to subsidised psychological sessions for The Sydney Morning Herald and spoke to Sky News about the need for active rehabilitation for young people engaged in antisocial activities, and recent changes to TGA-approved psychedelics for mental health.
  • What are the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease? Professor Helen Marshall wrote about this topic for The Conversation.
  • Professor Clare Collins wrote about whether chewing can help manage stress and appetite for The Conversation.

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