Rheumatologist recognised in Australia Day Honours

Thursday, 26 Jan 2023


Melbourne rheumatologist and educator Professor Michelle Leech has been recognised in the Australia Day Honours as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Professor Leech was honoured for “significant service to medical education and to professional organisations”, including as medical course head and deputy dean at Monash University’s Faculty of Medicine and Nursing Health Sciences since 2014.

A former head of the RACP’s clinical examination committee, she has also been medical director of Arthritis Australia  as well as head of Monash Health’s rheumatoid arthritis clinic since 2012.

Professor Michelle Leech. Source: Monash University

“I’m lucky to be recognised for doing something that I genuinely love,” she tells the limbic.

“Education is something that gives me energy, so I get as much out of it as I put in.”

Professor Leech believes the passion for education is something shared by many rheumatologists, adding the specialty is home to innumerable mentors and role models committed to training the next generation.

“I’ve also been lucky to have come across so many women leaders in both rheumatology and at my university, who are always incredibly supportive,” she says.

Other roles she has held include deputy director of the Monash Health’s rheumatology unit, as well as former vice-president and treasurer of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand.

Professor Leech has also completed a PhD at the Monash University Centre for Inflammatory Disease and has authored over 80 academic publications.

But she says she is most proud of being part of a “cultural shift” in medical education in recent years.

“When we were young in rheumatology and in medical education, there were a lot of quite scary medical educators out there,” she observed.

“So I’m really happy to be part of a new group of people who want to take a lot of the fear out of education and help empower the next generation to change the culture.”

Professor Leech adds: “It’s so rewarding in education to see all these young people learn and grow. They’re pretty amazing and being able to watch them evolve is what drives me.”


Each year, the limbic scours the lists for specialists joining the Order of Australia honours. If you believe someone has been left off, please get in touch at [email protected]

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