Obesity expert elected to AAHMS presidency


13 Nov 2023

Obesity researcher Professor Louise Baur has unveiled her ‘big vision’ for the future of local medical research after being elected to lead the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Professor baur was voted in to become the academy’s fourth president – and just the second woman in the top job – at its AGM last month. She takes over from Victori-based neurologist Professor Ingrid Scheffer.

Professor Baur is currently Professor of Child & Adolescent Health at The University of Sydney, and a consultant paediatrician in weight management services at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney. She co-leads the Diabetes and Obesity Clinical Academic Group at Sydney Health Partners and is President of the World Obesity Federation.

In a message to members, Professor Baur said expanding the influence of AAHMS, established in 2014 with only a handful of members, would be a key priority, with a goal of providing evidence-based policy advice and urging its implementation wherever required.

“In the nine years since we started as an academy, there has been enormous work undertaken in several areas,” she said.

“We have focused on our goals of nurturing future research leaders through the mentorship program and the various life as a clinician-scientist events. Another goal, that of influencing policy, has been enabled through the inspired work of many fellows who have contributed to various aspects of the pandemic response, and policy reports and roundtables including ‘A vision for the future: research and innovation as core functions in transforming the health system’, ‘Innovation in mental health, and ‘Advancing prevention in Australia’.”

“And our goal of strengthening and celebrating research is being realised through the growth of our fellowship and the recognition of outstanding achievements.”

Building on these initiatives, another key objective was to build the interface between clinicians and academia, something that was already underway but would require fresh ideas and new collaborations, she said.

“It’s important we further build on and support such work in the next few years so that we have many more examples of integration and collaboration across academia, health and industry,” she said.

“How can we as an Academy further support this? I am keen to better understand and support this important area.”

Nevertheless, the top priority was to support improvements in Indigenous health by supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and encouraging science with an aim towards closing the gap, she said.

“Our recent annual meeting focused on driving health equity and featured a strong theme of health inequities for Indigenous communities,” she said.

“A panel discussion of First Nations contributors featured a range of views on the Voice, but all agreed that no matter the referendum outcome, there was more work to be done to improve health inequities among First Nations communities, as well as many opportunities to learn from – and celebrate – the strength, knowledge and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”


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