Academy welcomes publication of Medical Research Future Fund Priorities

The Academy is delighted to see the publication of the second set of Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Priorities, which will determine how the fund is spent over the next two years. The MRFF is a $20 billion vehicle that aims to transform health and medical research and innovation in Australia.

The Academy’s President Elect, Professor Ingrid Scheffer, welcomed the announcement, saying: ‘The MRFF presents a huge opportunity for Australia to grow its health and medical research and innovation so that we can remain competitive on the world stage. The priorities that have been announced set out a clear path for the next two years, which will see funding channelled through grants, fellowships, clinical trials and other mechanisms across a range of fields. They address some of the most pressing health challenges facing Australia today, meaning this investment will ultimately help to improve the health of individuals across Australia, as well as delivering wider economic benefits.’

The MRFF was established under the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015. It is anticipated that the fund will reach full maturity by 2021, by which point it will provide up to $1 billion for research and innovation each year. The aim of the MRFF is to deliver strategic investments that transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability.

It is governed by the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB), which develops a five-yearly Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy and a two-yearly set of Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities. The government must take the Strategy and the Priorities into consideration when making decisions about how MRFF funding is invested.

The first set of priorities covered the period 2016-2018. The 2018-2020 priorities now published will determine how funding is awarded over the next two years, and they are organised under the six existing strategic platforms, as follows:

Strategic and International Horizons

  • One health – antimicrobial resistance
  • Global health and health security
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • Ageing and aged care

Data and Infrastructure

  • Digital health intelligence

Health Services and Systems

  • Comparative effectiveness research
  • Primary care research

Capacity and Collaboration

  • Clinical researcher capacity
  • Consumer-driven research

Trials and Translation

  • Drug repurposing
  • Public health interventions


  • Translational research infrastructure

The Academy has been supporting the Department to develop a methodology for priority-setting under the MRFF and we welcome the publication of these latest priorities. The full Priorities document is available here.

Announcing our President Elect

The Academy is delighted to announce Professor Ingrid Scheffer AO FRS FAA FAHMS as our President Elect. She will formally take up the role of President at our AGM in October 2019, when Professor Ian Frazer AC FRS FAA FTSE FAHMS steps down as President. Professor Scheffer is Chair of Paediatric Neurology Research at The University of Melbourne and Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

Professor Scheffer will be the Academy’s second President and first female President. She was the Academy’s Vice President immediately prior to her announcement as President Elect. Professor Frazer has served as the Academy’s Inaugural President since 2014 and will become our Immediate Past President.

Professor Scheffer officially began her role as President Elect at the Academy’s AGM on 11 October 2018, at which two Council members were also elected:

  • Professor David Mackey FAHMS becomes our new State Branch Chair for Western Australia. Professor Mackey is Managing Director at the Lions Eye Institute and Director of the Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Science, University of Western Australia. He takes over the role from Professor Steve Webb.
  • Professor Terry Nolan FAHMS joins Council as an Ordinary Member. Professor Nolan is Head of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne.

This election brings the Academy’s Council to 20 members in total – of which 10 are women and 10 are men. Further information on the Academy’s Board and Council is available on the Governance page of our website.

Professor Ingrid Scheffer

Laureate Professor Ingrid Scheffer is a physician-scientist whose work as a paediatric neurologist and epileptologist at the University of Melbourne has led the field of epilepsy genetics over more than 25 years, in collaboration with Professor Samuel Berkovic and molecular geneticists. Together they identified the first epilepsy gene and many genes subsequently. Professor Scheffer has described many novel epilepsy syndromes and refined genotype–phenotype correlation of many disorders.

Her major interests are genetics of the epilepsies, speech and language disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and translational research. She led the first major reclassification of the epilepsies in three decades for the International League Against Epilepsy. She has received many awards: 2007 American Epilepsy Society Clinical Research Recognition Award, ILAE Ambassador for Epilepsy Award, 2013 Australian Neuroscience Medallion, and the 2012 L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Laureate for the Asia-Pacific region.

In 2014, she was a co-recipient of the Prime Minister’s Prize of Science, and awarded the Order of Australia. She has sat on the NHMRC since 2015. In 2014 she became the inaugural Vice-President of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and in 2018 was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

Academy elects 37 of Australia’s leading health and medical researchers as Fellows

The Academy has elected 37 new Fellows in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the health and medical research landscape in Australia. The election brings the Academy’s total Fellowship to 357.

They have had a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of Australians and the world – representing a diverse range of fields from immunology and genomics, to biomechanics and biostatistics, through to physiotherapy, mental health, and Indigenous health.

The Academy’s President, Professor Ian Frazer AC, said: ‘I am delighted to welcome these 37 outstanding researchers to the Academy’s Fellowship. Their diverse talents and expertise reflect the incredible breadth and depth of Australia’s world class health and medical research.

‘We work with our Fellows to strengthen the health and medical research landscape in Australia. It is thanks to their expertise that we can play a valuable role in ensuring that Australia continues to address some of the world’s most pressing health challenges.’

The elected Fellows come from seven of Australia’s States and Territories, and 12 of the 37 are women.

They include:

  • Professor Jo Salmon, who has spent 20 years studying how time spent sitting down affects health, and developing interventions to reduce sitting time in young people. Her research has been adopted by government health and education departments for implementation in schools nationally and internationally.
  • Professor Anne Kelso, an immunologist who has many years of distinguished service to the health and medical research community, most recently as CEO of the National Health and Medical Research Council.
  • Professor Anthony Rodgers, who developed the first m-Health smoking cessation program, now part of the WHO/ITU initiative ‘Be healthy, be mobile’, and led development and testing of affordable cardiovascular combination pills (‘polypills’).
  • Professor David Durrheim, who is a leading public health advocate, who has worked to improve immunisation services, and the methods we use to detect and respond to disease outbreaks in Australia and globally. He is expert adviser to the WHO in the African and Pacific Regions.

The full list of Fellows:

Professor Ian Anderson AO FAHMS, Deputy Secretary, Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet
Professor Amanda Baker FAHMS, NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, University of Newcastle
Professor Gabrielle Belz FAHMS, Laboratory Head, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Professor Kim Bennell FAHMS, Professor and Director, Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine, University of Melbourne
Professor Lynne Bilston FAHMS, Conjoint Professor, Neuroscience Research Australia
Professor John Carlin FAHMS, Group Leader, Data Science and Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Professorial Fellow at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
Professor David Celermajer FAA FAHMS, Scandrett Professor of Cardiology, University of Sydney
Professor Enrico Coiera FAHMS, Professor, Centre for Health Informatics, Australian Institute of Health, Macquarie University
Professor Mariapia Degli-Esposti FAHMS, Head of Division, Immunology and NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, University of Western Australia
Professor David Durrheim FAHMS, Director, Health Protection, Hunter New England
Professor Christopher Fairley FAHMS, Director, Melbourne Sexual Health Care, Alfred Health
Professor Sean Grimmond FAHMS, Director, Centre for Cancer Research, University of Melbourne
Professor Margaret Hellard FAHMS, Head, Centre for Population Health, Burnet Institute
Professor Karin Jandeleit-Dahm FAHMS, Deputy Head, Diabetes Department, Monash University
Professor Cheryl Jones FAHMS, Head, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne
Professor Louisa Jorm FAHMS, Director, Centre for Big Data Research in Health, University of New South Wales
Professor Jonathan Kalman FAHMS, Director, Cardiac Electrophysiology, Royal Melbourne Hospital
Professor Shitij Kapur FAHMS, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne
Professor Anne Kelso AO FAA FAHMS, Chief Executive Officer, National Health and Medical Research Council
Professor Stephen Kent FAHMS, Laboratory Head, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Doherty Institute, University of Melbourne
Professor Martin Francis Lavin FAHMS, Emeritus Professor, University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research
Professor Stephen Leeder AO FAHMS, Director, Research and Education Network, Western Sydney Local Health District
Professor Richard Lock FAHMS, Head, Leukaemia Biology Group, Children’s Cancer Institute
Professor James McCarthy FAHMS, Senior Scientist, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Dr John McHutchison FAHMS, Executive Vice President, Clinical Research, Gilead Sciences Inc, California
Professor John Miners FAA FAHMS, Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor, Flinders University
Professor Donald Nutbeam FAHMS, Professor of Public Health, University of Sydney
Professor Philip John O’Connell FAHMS, Director of Transplantation, Renal Unit, Westmead Hospital
Professor Marc Pellegrini FAHMS, Division Head, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Professor Kelly‐Anne Phillips FAHMS, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
Professor Christopher Proud FAHMS, Theme Leader, Nutrition & Metabolism, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
Professor Bruce Robinson FAHMS, Professor of Medicine, University of Western Australia
Professor Anthony Rodgers FAHMS, Professor of Global Health, The George Institute
Professor Jo Salmon FAHMS, Co-Director, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University
Professor Prashanthan Sanders FAHMS, Director, Centre for Heart Rhythm Disorders, University of Adelaide
Professor David Thorburn FAHMS, Genetics Theme Director, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Professor Peter Wormald FAHMS, Chairman, Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, University of Adelaide


Academy responds to “Women in STEM Decadal Plan” consultation

The Academy has responded to a consultation on the Women in STEM Decadal Plan, a 10-year roadmap jointly led by the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. The plan aims to reduce gender barriers and boost female participation in the STEM.

In our response, the Academy highlights the opportunity for Australia to gain a competitive edge by addressing the issues and barriers faced by women in STEM and stresses the need to promote gender equity for women in the STEM sector, particularly those in health and medical research.

Employment issues, such as greater job security, policy and data-driven measures are important to address challenges that disproportionally affect women. Among other things, the Academy encourages gender equitable workplace policies and welcomes efforts to broaden parental leave although there is still a need to acknowledge the impact childcare responsibilities have beyond the parental leave period. Rather than assessing career recognition through traditional output metrics (e.g. publications), we suggest that more emphasis should be put on the impact and translation of research.

Gender-equitable pathways are crucial to attract and retain women in STEM professions, particularly health and medical research careers. The Academy is committed to supporting and nurturing the future generation of leaders in health and medical research and our response highlighted the dual demands faced by clinician scientists in particular, who must manage both research and clinical career pathways, which can exacerbate the challenges faced by women in STEM.

Mentors are a crucial source of inspiration and guidance to researchers and the Academy is proud to currently have 36 participants in its mentorship program, of which 17 are women. Beyond this, the Academy has a gender-balanced council with a total of 19 members of which 10 are women (at the time of submission).

Our response welcomes efforts to better understand this issue through data collection and analysis, but we stress the need to follow this with action. We will continue to actively monitor how we can raise female representation within our Fellowship and throughout our activities.

Our full consultation response to the Women in STEM Decadal Plan can be downloaded here.


Image: Council member and Fellow of the Academy, Professor Fiona Wood AM FRACS FAHMS

Academy responds to inquiry into Funding Australia’s Research

The Academy has responded to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training’s inquiry into Funding Australia’s Research, highlighting that:

  • Research and innovation drive economic growth, create jobs and bring considerable societal benefits through the translation of research findings.
  • Efficiency and impact of research funding will be maximised through long-term investment that provides the stability needed to ensure that research and innovation can address the most pressing national and global challenges.
  • For health and medical research, funding impact and translation will be substantially improved by ensuring that research is embedded in healthcare delivery. Clinician scientists need to be empowered to pursue both clinical and research endeavours.
  • Research funding now must deliver for the future, which means implementing targeted support for early- and mid-career researchers to ensure that they can become tomorrow’s leaders.

Our full response can be downloaded below.

Funding Australia’s Research submission – June 2018

Nine Academy Fellows recognised in Queen’s Birthday honours

We are delighted to report that nine Academy Fellows have been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours list. The Academy warmly congratulations these Fellows, who are as follows:

David Albert COOPER AC – (posthumously awarded) For eminent service to medicine, particularly in the area of HIV/AIDS research, as a clinician, scientist and administrator, to the development of treatment therapies, and to health programs in South East Asia and the Pacific.

Rinaldo BELLOMO AO – For distinguished service to intensive care medicine as a biomedical scientist and researcher, through infrastructure and systems development to manage the critically ill, and as an author.
Mark Fort HARRIS AO – For distinguished service to education, and to the community, in the area of public health care, evidence-based practice, and equity, as an academic and researcher, and to refugees.
James MCCLUSKEY AO – For distinguished service to medical education, as an academic in immunology, and through research into immune systems response to viruses.
Christobel Mary SAUNDERS AO – For distinguished service to medical education in the field of surgical oncology, to the diagnosis and management of breast cancer and melanoma, as an academic, researcher and clinician.

Jonathan Rhys CARAPETIS AM -For significant service to medicine in the field of paediatrics, particularly the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of rheumatic heart disease.
Robyn Heather GUYMER AM – For significant service to medicine in the field of ophthalmology, particularly age related macular degeneration as a clinician, academic and researcher.
Christine Faye MCDONALD AM – For significant service to respiratory and sleep medicine as a clinician-researcher, administrator, and mentor, and to professional medical organisations.
Claire Elizabeth WAINWRIGHT AM -For significant service to medicine as a respiratory clinician, and for leadership into the study of cystic fibrosis.

We are hiring – Policy and Projects Officer/Senior Officer

The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences is seeking a motivated and professional Policy and Projects Officer or Senior Officer (dependent on experience) to join our small, dynamic team. This is an exciting time to join AAHMS as we enter a period of growth, having recently recruited a new CEO and relocated to our new headquarters in Brisbane.

The Policy Officer/Senior Officer will manage the day-to-day operations of high impact policy projects on key health and medical research issues, working with the Academy’s Fellows. The successful candidate will have excellent interpersonal and organisation skills, with a demonstrated ability to manage competing priorities to meet short and long term deadlines. They will be familiar with the Australian health and medical research landscape and with policy issues currently facing the sector. They will have excellent analytical skills and a track record of delivering successful projects, ideally in a policy setting. The successful candidate must be comfortable working closely with senior academics and health professionals, and will have experience of managing professional relationships with external stakeholders or collaborators.

Please download the Position Description for more information on this role and how to apply. Applications should be sent via email to [email protected] and must be received by 23.59 AEST on Tuesday 3 July 2018.

Position Description – Policy and Projects Officer/Senior Officer

We are hiring – Fellowship and Administration Coordinator

The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS) is seeking a motivated and professional Fellowship and Administration Coordinator to join our small, dynamic team. This is an exciting time to join AAHMS as we enter a period of growth, having recently recruited a new CEO and relocated to our new headquarters in Brisbane.

The Fellowship and Administration Coordinator will manage the day-to-day functioning of the Academy’s election process and provide important administrative support for key AAHMS activities, liaising regularly with Australia’s leading health and medical scientists. They will possess excellent interpersonal skills, exceptional organisation skills and the ability to manage competing priorities to meet deadlines. The successful candidate will have meticulous attention to detail and be a team-player, who relishes the opportunity to make a positive contribution across different aspects of the Academy’s work. They will have gained experience from a previous administrative role, ideally within a research, funding or higher education environment. This role would suit, for example, a grants officer or research administrator looking for a new challenge and the opportunity to work with Australia’s leading health and medical researchers.

Please download the Position Description below for more information on this role and how to apply. Applications should be sent via email to [email protected] and must be received by 23.59 AEST on Tuesday 3 July 2018.

Position Description – Fellowship and Administration Coordinator

Introducing the Academy’s new CEO

Welcoming Catherine Luckin as the Academy’s new CEO.

The Board is pleased to announce that Catherine Luckin will be joining the Academy as the CEO, starting May 28th.

Catherine Luckin has a decade of experience supporting research and innovation, particularly in the health and medical sciences – through roles in policy, public affairs, strategy and international relations. Until December 2016, she was Head of International at the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS), the UK’s National Academy for health and medical research. She led a team of staff to deliver initiatives designed to respond to global health challenges, influence policy and promote international mobility, connections and capacity building.

Since arriving in Australia in January 2017, Catherine has held roles in the University of Sydney’s Office of Global Engagement and managing health strategy at the University of Technology Sydney. She brings cross-sector experience, including time spent working in Public Affairs at Pfizer and as Senior Policy Adviser to the Royal College of Physicians of London.

Catherine’s policy experience has covered national and international issues, including: integrating research into health systems; the use of data in research; research careers; immigration and mobility; global health issues; and emerging technologies. She led the AMS’ work on improving the reproducibility of biomedical research, which resulted in an international statement from the InterAcademy Panel that was supported and promoted by the AAHMS Council.

During her career, Catherine has established and led initiatives in a range of areas, including global programs and funding schemes; often collaborating with partners from Government, industry, higher education, research funders, learned societies and NGOs. Consequently, she brings a global network from the UK, Europe, Australia and Academies across the world. She has a BSc in Natural Sciences and an MSc in Science Communication.

Catherine can be contacted on [email protected].