Australian Academy of Science elects new president

Thursday, 09 November, 2017

Australian biochemist and molecular biologist Professor John Shine AC has been elected president of the Australian Academy of Science.

Professor Shine became world renowned for a series of discoveries he made between 1975 and 1985 that furthered our understanding of genes. He cloned the first human hormone genes, and in the process developed sophisticated gene cloning techniques that helped transform the world of biotechnology.

The outgoing president of the academy, Professor Andrew Holmes AC, said he was delighted Professor Shine has been elected as the next president of the academy. “He combines the highest level of scientific knowledge and achievement with an extensive understanding of the corporate world. We look forward to the next chapter of the academy under his wise leadership,” Holmes said.

Professor Shine said he is both daunted and proud of his election. “The role of president comes with great prestige and big footsteps to follow in. I want to ensure that the academy continues to be the first place government, politicians and industry come to when they are looking for learned scientific advice,” Shine said.

“Communicating the science behind immunisation is a great recent example of where the academy has helped inform the public and addressed renewed concerns around this important health issue.”

In his earlier roles in the US biotechnology industry and as chairman of CSL for the past six years, Professor Shine has a longstanding commitment to the translation of research discoveries into advances in health care for the social and economic benefit of the community.

“I’ve always had a strong interest in communicating the importance of science to the broader community, which I will continue to do in this role,” Shine said.

“The importance of science to Australia’s future cannot be emphasised enough. As Australian science undergraduates and postgraduates attend their respective graduation ceremonies over the coming weeks, I would say to them, you will be in high demand and we need you to put your bright minds to the many challenges facing society.”

Professor Shine was also executive director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research from 1990–2012. He still runs his own lab at the institute, investigating the gene mutations responsible for inherited kidney disorders.

He was elected to the academy in 1994. The academy’s home, previously known as Becker House, was named the Shine Dome in 2000, in recognition of a $1 million donation made by Professor Shine to help restore the building, one of the most iconic and distinctive in Australia.

There have been 18 presidents of the academy since its founding president, Sir Marcus Oliphant AC KBE FAA FRS FTSE, was elected in 1954. The president of the academy is elected by its Fellows. Other Fellows elected to the academy’s council include: Professor Elaine Sadler — Foreign Secretary; Professor Hans Bachor AM — Secretary Education and Public Awareness of Science; Professor Wendy Hoy AO — Member (Biological Sciences); Professor Marilyn Anderson AO — Member (Biological Sciences); Professor Frances Separovic — Member (Physical Sciences); Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop — Member (Physical Sciences).

Positions will commence after the AGM at the academy’s annual signature science event Science at the Shine Dome on 24 May 2018.

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