July 2023 newsletter

A message from our President

I am once again honoured to be writing to you on behalf of the Academy, as I take the reins as Interim President until a new President is elected later this year. While returning to being the President was completely unexpected, I am delighted to be able to steer the ship in the short-term, with the support of our able secretariat, while we await the outcome of the Presidential election at our Annual Meeting.

As you are no doubt aware, the future of health and medical research in Australia is largely dependent on how it is funded and prioritised at a federal level. As Catherine explains in her update below, Academy Fellows and Associate Members are currently providing expertise for a number of key Federal Government consultations that are framing the agenda for the sector. This policy work is central to the Academy’s mission to advance research and innovation to improve everyone’s health, and we are grateful for the high level expertise and experience in our Fellowship that allows us to make such an impact.

We are also, as ever, committed to nurturing the next generation. I am incredibly proud to see the Academy’s Life as a Clinician-Scientist (LACS) program roll out around the country to clinicians from all fields, following our inception of these symposia eight years ago when a medical student and I thought we needed to attract the brightest and best early in their careers to being clinician-scientists. I have seen the enormous impact this program has on the lives of aspiring clinician-scientists. This year we have expanded the program, and our next meeting is the second Nursing and Midwifery online symposium on 20 July, followed by our Life as a Clinician-Scientist Victorian symposium on 19 August 2023. My warmest thanks to Professor Caroline Homer and Professor Claire Rickard for their help in organising the former. These meetings are an exceptional opportunity for students, health professionals, and early career researchers on the cusp of the next stage of their career to gain real-world insight into the life and work of clinician-scientists, and to ask experts directly for advice and guidance. Please do share the details with your networks – you can find out more on our website.

This year we introduced spot mentoring, an exciting new session at LACS in-person symposia, where attendees can book in face-to-face meetings with some of our speakers. These have been phenomenally popular and we are most grateful to all the Fellows, Associate Members and other speakers who have given their time and wisdom so generously to chat, as these discussions can be truly life-changing.

Please ensure our forthcoming Annual Meeting in warm sunny Brisbane is in your diaries on 12-13 October. Our scientific committee, led by Professor David Whiteman, is developing a fascinating program that should ensure a wonderful few days.

Finally, congratulations to the Fellows named in the Order of Australia honours announced last month. Your outstanding achievements deserve recognition, and we warmly congratulate all the recipients.

With my very best wishes,


Professor Ingrid Scheffer AO FRS FAA

Interim President

CEO’s update

Dear all,

As Ingrid has indicated in her update above, it has been a busy time for the policy team at the Academy. As part of our commitment to advancing research and innovation in Australia, we have been working closely with Fellows and Associate Members to provide expert advice on several Federal Government consultations. These include:

·        A submission to the Office of the Chief Scientist in relation to changes to Australia’s National Science and Research Priorities. Last week we also participated in a roundtable on this topic, represented by two members of our Executive, Professor Kathryn North and Professor Paul Scuffham.

·        Preparing a submission to the consultation to improve alignment and coordination of the MRFF and MREA – thanks to those Fellows and Associate Members who have provided input. We have also been delighted to attend some of the Ministerial roundtables and other meetings, represented by Fellows Ingrid, as Interim President, and Professor Christina Mitchell, who chaired our 2022 report on embedding research in the health system.

·        Preparing a submission to the consultation on the national health and climate change strategy consultation.

·        Participating in the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Resources’ public hearing into advanced manufacturing in Australia later this month. Professor Andrew Cuthbertson will be representing the Academy.

·        Preparing a submission informed by input from Fellows and Associate Members for the Parliamentary Inquiry into Diabetes in Australia.

I would like to thank all those Fellows and Associate Members who have shared their expertise and experience to help us develop these outputs, which has been crucial for the Academy’s participation.

Additionally, on 26 July we will host the second Health Horizons Forum in Sydney, with cross-sector experts meeting for a roundtable discussion focused on preventive measures to improve health and reduce the burden of disease in Australia. Learn more about the Advancing prevention in Australia roundtable.

We also anticipate announcing our latest round of successful applicants in our competitive Mentorship Program in the coming weeks, as well as the recipients of our Jian Zhou Medal next month – stay tuned for further updates.

As always, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to discuss any aspect of our work. 

All the best, 

Catherine Luckin


Preventive health in the spotlight at July Health Horizons Forum

Our second Health Horizons Forum for 2023 will be held on 26 July in Sydney, with a focus on preventive health strategies to improve the health of all in the community. This event will be chaired by renowned public health expert, Professor Don Nutbeam FAHMS, Executive Director of Sydney Health Partners and Professor of Public Health at The University of Sydney. 

The roundtable, Advancing prevention in Australia, will bring together some of the country’s top experts in the sector with policymakers and industry leaders to discuss opportunities and limitations around advancing current strategies for prevention in Australia, as well as key knowledge gaps and challenges. Learn more about the roundtable in our recent news story.

Fellows recognised with Order of Australia honours

Congratulations to the twelve Fellows honoured for their significant service to the community in the recent Order of Australia awards.

Fellows were recognised not only for their outstanding contributions to the health and medical sciences, but also for their work as mentors, advocates and community leaders.

The Academy warmly congratulations them on this well-deserved recognition. Read the full list of Fellows honoured on our website.

Sector news and opportunities

Charles Perkins Centre Annual Lecture

Visiting scholar, Professor Sheila Jasanoff, the Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School, will present the Charles Perkins Centre Annual Lecture on 2 August on the topic ‘Public health sovereignty and public reason: A comparative perspective’. Professor Jasanoff will draw on varied policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic to explore the connection between citizens, experts and the state, providing insight into contemporary debates on populism and loss of trust in science. This free event will be held at 5:30pm on 2 August at The University of Sydney Camperdown campus. Register online 

Metcalf Prize nominations open

Applications are now open for the two $60,000 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research. Nominees should be mid-career researchers, five to 10 years past their PhD or MD (research-based), working in Australia with a focus on stem cell research. Learn more on the Stem Cell Foundation website.


Professor Matthew Kiernan received the 2022 Ramaciotti Medal of Excellence in recognition of his extensive research into neurodegenerative diseases.

Professor Helen Marshall is one of three Scientist of the Year finalists in the SA Science Awards. Winners will be announced in November. 

Professor Doug Hilton will take on a new role as CEO of CSIRO starting in September.

Fellows in the News

Professor Ian Anderson, Professor Alex Brown, Professor Pat Dudgeon and Professor Sandra Eades are among 52 experts profiled in a Cosmos article on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers changing the world.

Parts of Professor Sandra Eades’ Hallford Oration was published on University of Melbourne’s Pursuit.

Professor Chris Semsarian spoke to the ABC about why DNA and genetics will play a role in future court cases.

Professor Ian Hickie spoke to The Sydney Morning Herald about children being restrained during mental health episodes, and to The Australian about addictive phone apps. He also wrote for The Conversation about unemployment and suicide.

Professors Greg Dore and Anthony Kelleher published research on neurocognitive impairment post-COVID.

Professor Stephen Duckett spoke about the ethics of healthcare funding on ABC Radio National.

Professor Helen Marshall spoke to The Advertiser about a positive side effect of meningococcal B immunisation.

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