June 2023 newsletter

A message from our President

Since October last year, I have been honoured to lead this organisation as President; I have been proud to work with Fellows, Associate Members and staff on projects focused on improving the health of all in the Australian community. However, as you may have heard, I have recently been appointed as CEO of NHMRC, a role I am excited to take on later this year. In the interests of maintaining the Academy’s valued independence, and in liaison with the Academy’s Executive and Council, I will be stepping down immediately as President. I’m deeply humbled by the opportunity to provide leadership for Australia’s flourishing health and medical research sector as CEO of NHMRC, following in the footsteps of Professor Anne Kelso, who has done such an outstanding job for the past eight years. However, I am very sorry to have to stand down early as Academy President. This is a truly rewarding role, in which I had planned to further contribute to the Academy’s important work.I’ve been involved in the Academy for almost a decade: as a founding Fellow, as a member of the Executive and Council since 2014, and then as Vice President and most recently as President. I’ve delighted in seeing the Academy grow from strength to strength, cementing its place as an independent voice for health and medical research and innovation, a champion for emerging research leaders, and an advocate for better health outcomes for all. I will continue to be a part of AAHMS as a Fellow and look forward to seeing the Academy pursue its important endeavours.The Academy will undertake a process to fill the role of President, which is an elected position. I’ve been informed that in the interim, Immediate Past President Professor Ingrid Scheffer has kindly agreed to temporarily fulfill this role. Professor Scheffer did an outstanding job leading the Academy as President until last October, and the Academy is fortunate to have her expertise and guidance again.I’d like to thank the Academy’s excellent Executive, Council, Fellowship for their support during my time as President.  I’d also like to highlight the hard work of the Academy’s secretariat, who are essential in bringing all the Academy’s projects to fruition.

Yours sincerely,
Professor Steve Wesselingh PresAHMS


CEO’s update

Further to Steve’s message above, on behalf of the Academy’s Executive, Council, Fellowship and staff, I would like to thank Steve for his substantial contributions to the Academy – as an Executive and Council member since 2014 and especially since taking on the Presidency last year. He will be sorely missed on the Executive and Council, but we are delighted to see him take on this new role as NHMRC CEO. We look forward to working with him in this new capacity.

I would also like to convey the Academy’s thanks to AAHMS Fellow, Professor Anne Kelso, for her work as NHMRC CEO. Anne has provided excellent leadership of the NHMRC since 2015.

I am most grateful to Professor Ingrid Scheffer for stepping back into the role of President while we undertake the process to elect a new President.

Turning to other Academy matters, the Federal Government is undertaking a national consultation to improve alignment and coordination between the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and Medical Research Endowment Account (MREA).  This is an opportunity for us all to contribute our views on the future of health and medical research funding in Australia. We hope to engage with as many of our Fellows and Associate Members as possible to inform our consultation response. Read more below in our newsletter.

I hope you saw our analysis of the 2023 Federal Budget we published last month. As expected, easing cost of living pressures was a major focus. In health, the narrative focused on supporting the growth of the health and aged care workforce with more doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, and higher pay for aged care workers; and delivering cheaper medicines and more affordable care for the community. New health investments targeted areas including aged care, mental health, smoking and vaping, health protection/preventive measures, and improving access and equity in healthcare. You can read the analysis on our website.

Amid the rising cost of living pressures in Australia and overseas, it is fitting that health equity will be the focus of our upcoming Annual Meeting in Brisbane on 12-13 October. We will announce program and registration details very soon, but in the meantime, I encourage you to make sure you save the date for our flagship event of the year.

We are also looking forward to the next Life as a Clinician-Scientist symposium, being held in Western Australia on 24 June at the Fiona Stanley Hospital. This will be our first Perth event in four years, so please do spread the word and help us reach as many aspiring clinician-scientists as possible. Learn more and register on the event website.

Finally, our warmest congratulations to the four AAHMS Fellows who were elected to the Australian Academy of Science last month.

As always, please feel free to get in touch about any aspect of the Academy’s work. And my thanks, once again, to Steve for his tremendous contributions to the Academy for almost a decade.

All the best,

Catherine Luckin

Consultation on National Health and Medical Research Strategy 

Woman scientist examines microscope

The Government is undertaking national consultation to improve alignment and coordination between the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and Medical Research Endowment Account (MREA)The consultation opened on 4 June and will close on 14 July.

The Academy welcomes this consultation, as we have been calling for greater harmonisation between the NHMRC and MRFF.  The Academy, as an authoritative and independent voice for the sector, has been engaging with government and relevant decision-makers on this topic, and is ideally placed to ensure our Fellows and Associate Members’ perspectives are heard.

Strategic harmonisation between NHMRC and MRFF was one of the priority recommendations from our October 2022 report, Research and innovation as core functions in transforming the health system, and something we have therefore been discussing with government.

We will have Academy representation at a stakeholder roundtable later this month, as well as making a written submission. Learn more about the consultation on the government’s website.

Consultation on National Health and Medical Research Strategy 

Four AAHMS Fellows elected to Australian Academy of Science

Four AAHMS Fellows have been elected to the Australian Academy of Science (AAS), in recognition of their significant scientific contributions. The new joint Fellows are:

We warmly congratulate these Fellows, who are among 20 new AAS Fellows, on this outstanding achievement. Learn more about the remarkable achievements of these four Fellows on our website  and read the full list of 2023 Fellows on the AAS website.

Sector news and opportunities

ACOLA survey: The future of research assessment
The Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia are seeking the views of researchers in Australia on how assessment practices in universities, governments and the private sector shape research careers. The consultation is being undertaken for Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM FAA FTSE and will inform her advice to the Australian Government on the future of assessment practices in Australia’s research system. The survey will close on 12 June and can be completed online hereLearn more on the ACOLA website.

STEM Career Pathways survey
Science & Technology Australia is seeking opinions for a survey on STEM career patterns, talent retention and mobility across the sector. The STEM Career Pathways survey gather crucial information on workloads, conditions, career development and opportunities for people to move between industry and research across Australia’s STEM sector. The survey will inform research commissioned by the Office of the Chief Scientist for the Prime Minister’s National Science and Technology Council. The survey is open now and closes on 14 June.

ISC Centre for Science Futures consultation
The International Science Council (ISC) Centre for Science Futures is inviting comments on the discussion paper “Looking at the Future of Transdisciplinary Research”. Submissions about personal experiences with transdisciplinary research and how it has impacted funding and evaluation of research or scientific institutions are encouraged. Comments close on 30 June. Visit the ISC website for details.
Awards for Excellence in Innovation
Nominations for the Cooperative Research Australia (CRA) Awards for Excellence in Innovation are now open. The awards showcase and recognise the work and impact of industry-research collaboration in the Australian innovation system. Nominate by 21 June on the CRA website.


Professor Maria Makrides will lead the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) as its next executive director from later this year.

Professor Warwick Anderson has been awarded the Society for Social Studies of Science Bernal Prize for his contributions to the field of science and technology studies.

ACOLA was highly commended in the recent Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education & Training (ADCET) Accessibility in Action Awards for the recent project, Ensuring Occupations are Responsive to People with Disability. Congratulations to all those involved, including AAHMS Fellow Professor Cathie Sherrington.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse was named has been this year’s Western Australian of the Year in the HBF Professions category.

Fellows in the News

Professor Brendan Crabb spoke to the Medical Journal of Australia’s Insight on COVID-19 and the WHO’s latest statement.

Professor Mark Dawson wrote about his journey from student to top cancer researcher for Nature.

Professor Stephen Duckett wrote about Medicare funding in the Federal Budget for The ConversationHe was also quoted in an article on aged care funding in The Australian.

Professor Nicholas Fisk co-wrote an article on the gap between the funded and true cost of research for Campus Morning Mail.

Professor Katherine Kedzierska spoke to the ABC about a new study analysing the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines for First Nations peoples.

The Advertiser covered Professor Maria Makrides’ appointment as Executive Director of SAHMRI.

Professor John Rasko spoke to Dr Norman Swan on ABC Radio National’s The Health Report about gene therapy treatments.

Professor Tania Sorrell co-authored an editorial on long COVID for MJA.

Professor Tim Stinear spoke to SBS about a surveillance system to detect elevated risks of Buruli ulcer outbreaks in Victoria.

Professor Helena Teede spoke to Triple J’s Hack about polycystic ovary syndrome guidelines, treatment and support.

News of Professor Steve Wesselingh’s appointment as NHMRC CEO was reported in Campus Morning Mail.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse spoke about ADHD and autism funding on ABC Radio National.

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