Institute researchers join new Academy of Health and Medical Sciences

25 March 2015
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Four Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have tonight been recognised for their contributions to medical research, with their election as fellows of the newly established Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

The academy, launched in Canberra by Australian Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, was established to promote health and medical research and its translation to enable a healthier community both in Australia and globally.

Institute clinician-scientists Professor Andrew Roberts, Professor Len Harrison and Professor Geoff Lindeman and institute director Professor Doug Hilton were among 116 eminent Australians appointed as fellows of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Fellows are elected in recognition of their excellence and leadership in health and medical research.

Professor Hilton’s research into blood cell development and function has provided new insights into how cells communicate in health and disease. As director of the institute and president of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) he has championed improvements in government support of health and medical research.

Professor Hilton said he was honoured to join the academy, which was formed to address key challenges for translating Australian research into better health outcomes, identified in the 2012 McKeon Review of Health and Medical Research.

“The McKeon Review identified the need for Australia to better connect health and medical research with the delivery of healthcare services,” Professor Hilton said. “The academy promises to be a valuable addition to Australia’s health and medical research sector, both for its role in supporting the involvement of clinicians in translational research as well as fostering evidence-based health policy development and discussions.

“Australians have already gained immensely from our health and medical research sector, with economic benefits as well as its positive impact on our health. The formation of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences provides a conduit to further enable Australian researchers to improve healthcare and health policy,” Professor Hilton said.

Professor Andrew Roberts is head of the institute’s Clinical Translation Centre, and leads world-first clinical trials of new anti-cancer agents to treat blood cancers such as leukaemia.

Professor Roberts said the academy had identified mentoring the next generation of clinician-scientists as a priority. “This has the potential to provide an enormous boost to Australia’s translational research capacity, ensuring our brightest clinicians can combine clinical and research careers to improve healthcare,” he said.

Professor Len Harrison’s election to the academy recognises his role in leading translational diabetes research aimed at preventing type 1 diabetes in at-risk people. Professor Geoff Lindeman is a breast cancer specialist whose research team was the first to identify breast stem cells, from which normal and cancerous breast tissue can develop.

Academy patron Sir Gustav Nossal, a former director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, said the academy would provide a national and international forum for debate and discussion amongst thinkers and researchers.

“Australia has a notable record of achievement in health and medical research, and our current expertise is reflected in the initial fellowship of the academy,” he said. “The academy fellows form an expert resource which will provide great value to the Australian community and to the world, now and into the future.”

Professor Roberts, Professor Lindeman and Professor Harrison all hold joint appointments at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Further information:

Liz Williams
Media and Publications Manager
T: +61 428 034 089
E: williams@wehi.edu.au

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