11 October 2023

As an infectious disease physician and researcher in HIV, vaccine development and the impact of the microbiome on human health, Professor Wesselingh brings a wealth of medical experience, clinical leadership as well as national and international success to this role.

Professor Steve Wesselingh
Professor Steve Wesselingh, July 2023

His experience has provided him with a great understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the health and medical research community, and he is equipped to contribute at the national level.

Professor Wesselingh says it is a very important and interesting time for health and medical research in Australia.

'The key priorities for me – and for NHMRC will be to meet the major health challenges of the present and of the future,'

'NHMRC will continue to support excellence, creativity and innovation. We will add value both from the bottom up (Investigator Grants) and top down (priority-driven research),'

'We’ll be transparent with our modern peer review process and look at all our funding opportunities through an equity lens,'

'There was some very important work done by former CEO, Professor Anne Kelso AO, with her vision around gender diversity and inclusion in the health and medical research workforce,' said Professor Wesselingh.

NHMRC’s new initiative, introduced as a special measure under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, set a target to fund an equal number of Leadership grants for women and men in the Investigator Grant scheme.

For the first time, non-binary researchers will also be explicitly included in this and other measures to foster gender equity in NHMRC funding, recognising the systemic disadvantage that they experience.

'This will continue to be a high priority for me and NHMRC to ensure we reduce equity gaps rather than increasing them,'

This intervention will lead to changes in practices within research organisations to enable greater collaboration between researchers, stronger practices to support all genders during career breaks, and better decision-making and research design – all of which will improve research outcomes for all Australians.

'I want to see increasing opportunities for all parts of the health and medical research sector,'

NHMRC will continue to build a strong health and medical research workforce. There will also be more consumer and community involvement and more work on embedding research in our health system.

'My vision is to see research move quickly into further translation and commercialisation, and a funding system that is underpinned with solid evidence', said Professor Wesselingh.

In this integral position as CEO for NHMRC, Professor Wesselingh will oversee strategic investment in health and medical research, evidence-based health advice and the ethical practice and conduct of medical research.

He is well-versed already in the agency’s operations having recently served as member of NHMRC Council and the Chair of NHMRC Research Committee. Professor Wesselingh’s leadership, vision and expertise will guide us toward a brighter future.

Stay tuned for updates as we all work together on building a healthier Australia!