September 2023 newsletter

A message from our President

There are only a few short weeks until we gather in Brisbane for the centrepiece of the Academy’s calendar, the Academy’s Annual Meeting, held on 12-13 October 2023. It is always a great pleasure to meet in person, one that we no longer take for granted after the COVID-19 restrictions. The Annual Meeting is an opportunity for us to celebrate our award winners, welcome new Fellows, and most importantly, learn from one another as we exchange ideas, novel concepts and information. The meeting is open to all, and I do hope to see you there.

This year, the meeting will focus on Driving health equity, a topic that I know is of keen interest to many, and is an important priority for the Academy. Human rights and social justice advocate Professor Tom Calma AO FAA FASSA (Chancellor, University of Canberra) is one of our keynote speakers, and his presentation will be followed by a panel discussion on accelerating health equity among First Nations communities – a timely topic given the upcoming Voice referendum.

Our other keynote will feature Professor Fran Baum AO FAHMS (Professor of Health Equity, University of Adelaide Stretton Institute) in conversation with Professor Sir Michael Marmot (Professor of Epidemiology, University College London; Director, UCL Institute of Health Equity; Past President of the World Medical Association), and I look forward to hearing their insights.

Another highlight will be our presentations from new Fellows, showing the diversity and breadth of expertise of our newest members. I hope to see you there. Purchase your tickets now via the website, or contact [email protected] for more information.

In other news, later this month the Academy will host a roundtable to inform the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR) consultation to build and support growth of Australia’s RNA sector. This roundtable aligns with our goals to advance research and innovation in Australia to improve everyone’s health. DISR has consulted stakeholders around the country and has asked AAHMS to convene this roundtable with a particular focus on RNA capacity and capability in human health and the health system. Thank you to the Fellows and Associate Members taking part in these discussions, your valuable expertise is greatly appreciated.

Finally, I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to this year’s Jian Zhou Medallists: Professor David Ziegler and Professor Laura Mackay FAHMS. The medal, awarded annually, recognises individuals who are making a significant impact in translational medical science. I encourage you to learn more about these two outstanding scientists by visiting our website, and I look forward to celebrating them with you at our Gala Dinner.


With very best wishes,


Professor Ingrid Scheffer AO FRS FAA


Interim President

ACOLA’S statement on the Voice to Parliament

The Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), of which AAHMS is a member, has released a statement supporting the referendum to give the Government the legislative ability to establish a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. The Academy released its own statement earlier in the year – you can find it on our website. The Lowitja Institute has also released a position statement on the Voice, which you can find on their website.

Life as a clinician-scientist

We were delighted to hold our final Life as a Clinician-Scientist event of the year on 5 September – for allied health professionals. After refreshing this program at the start of 2023, we have hosted six events throughout the year for individuals across the health professionals: doctors, nurses, midwives, and allied health professionals. We have seen more than 1,000 individuals register for these events and a similar number are now subscribed to our new life as a clinician-scientist newsletter, Hypothesis. If you’re not already subscribed, you can do so here.

We look forward to building on this success in 2024 – as always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have thoughts about how we can make sure this program delivers on its purpose to help deliver a thriving clinical research environment in Australia. Contact [email protected] with your thoughts. 

The below illustration was captured by graphic recorder Debbie Wood during the allied health panel discussion.

AAHMS policy news

The Academy’s policy team submitted three consultation responses in the past month. Our thanks to the Fellows and Associate Members who kindly contributed to these.

Sector news

Applications for the 2024 Australia-Harvard Fellowships Awards for Researchers and Educators in Biosciences and Medicine close on 9 October 2023. These Fellowships are aimed at creative scientists normally based at Harvard who have a persuasive plan for collaborative work in Australia with Australia’s best bioscience researchers and educators. The award also supports Australian researchers who wish to follow-up joint initiatives at Harvard. Learn more and apply on the Harvard Club of Australia website.


AAHMS Associate Member Professor Jeroen Hendriks has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. Fellows are selected for their substantial, sustained, and outstanding impact on health and health care. Professor Hendricks will be inducted at the Academy’s annual Health Policy Conference, taking place on October 5 – 7, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Professor Richard Scolyer AO has been awarded the prestigious 2023 SMR Lifetime Achievement Award by The Society for Melanoma Research. This award recognises the many vital contributions he has made to global melanoma research.

Professor Katherine Kedzierska and colleagues Dr Oanh Nguyen and Dr Louise Rowntree were awarded the 2023 Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research.

Fellows in the news

The Doherty Institute has published a news feature on the work of Preeminent immunologist Professor Laura Mackay, following her receipt of the 2023 Jian Zhou Medal. She was also interviewed on ABC Radio and profiled in The Herald Sun.

Professor Patrick McGorry discussed youth mental health on the Medical Journal of Australia podcast.

The Australian Academy of Science spoke with Professor Pankaj Sah about why science matters.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse spoke with Telethon Kids Institute about the role of genetics in autism. 

Professor Dominic Dwyer spoke with Cosmos Magazine and the Australian Science Media Centre on the origins of COVID-19 & what we know so far.

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