Neurology researchers named in Academy ‘best and brightest’ list


By Geir O'Rourke

17 Oct 2022

Several neurologists and researchers have been officially named among the field’s “best and brightest minds” after being made fellows of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Professor Bruce Taylor, a clinician and neuroscientist in Tasmania was recognised for his decades of work as a renowned Multiple Sclerosis (MS) researcher and neurologist.

Professor of Neurological Research University of Tasmania, he is also chair of the MS Clinical Research Network, directing studies into the disease around the country.

He also sits on the steering committee of the International MS Genetics Consortium.

“His research has transformed our understanding of the personal, environmental and genetic factors that contribute to the onset of MS,” the academy said.

Also among the fellows elected last week was Professor Susan Fletcher, a senior principal research fellow at Murdoch University, an adjunct professor and lecturer at the University of Western Australia.

Among her achievements was as co-creator, with Professor Steve Wilton, of the first three drugs used to alter the natural history of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

She is now leading development of a drug to treat the rare eye disease retinitis pigmentosa 11, according to the academy.

And Professor Leonid Churilov was recognised for work as a clinical biostatistician, designing and analysing acute and recovery stroke trials which had led to global changes in clinical practice.

“His decision-modelling effort underpins acute stroke processes of care including the first Australian stroke ambulance, the academy said.

The Professor of Biostatistics at Melbourne Medical School, he has co-authored over 400 publications in the areas of modelling methodology and clinical applications.

All up, 31 new fellows were elected to the academy last week, with other high-profile names including epidemiologist and Professor of Disability and Health at the University of Melbourne Professor Anne Kavanagh.

Doherty Institute laboratory head Professor Laura Mackay was also recognised for her work on tissue-resident memory T cells and their involvement in viral and tumour immunity.

At 39, she was the academy’s youngest-ever fellow to be elected, said AAHMS President, Professor Ingrid Scheffer.

“The wealth of experience and diversity of expertise amongst our newest fellows will allow the academy to continue to provide an expert and authoritative voice that spans the full breadth and depth of health services, medical science, research and innovation in Australia,” Professor Scheffer said.

“Our fellows include the nation’s top health and research leaders and I look forward to seeing the contributions that our 2022 fellows make to ensure that Australia continues to have a robust and world-leading health and medical research and innovation sector.”

Other new fellows include:

  • ABC journalist and doctor Dr Norman Swan, elected in recognition of his significant contribution to health and medical science journalism over the past four decades.
  • Professor Di Yu, the inaugural director and chair in paediatric immunotherapy at the Ian Frazer Centre for Children’s Immunotherapy Research at the University of Queensland.
  • Professor Ian Freckelton, King’s Counsel, elected in recognition of his extensive contributions to health law and policy, including as founder of the Journal of Law and Medicine and publishing through a series of edited books on health law.
  • Professor Jennifer Couper, Head of Paediatrics at The University of Adelaide, who is a practicing clinician and researcher who leads innovations for children at-risk of or with type 1 diabetes.
  • Professor Anna Nowak, Pro Vice Chancellor (Health and Medical Research) at The University of Western Australia, a medical oncologist, clinical triallist and immunology researcher with a focus on the cancer mesothelioma.

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