University of Western Australia: Top health experts elected to prestigious national academy

Two health leaders from The University of Western Australia have been elected as new Fellows of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

The Academy welcomed 19 women and 10 men to its Fellowship today, recognising the brightest minds in health and medical sciences across a range of fields.

New Fellows include Professor Pat Dudgeon, from UWA’s School of Indigenous Studies, and Professor Andrew Whitehouse, from the UWA-affiliated Telethon Kids Institute.

Professor Dudgeon is Australia’s first Aboriginal psychologist and has had an exceptional career in mental health. She has shown how the specific historical, socio-economic, political, cultural and racist factors interact and contribute to mental health problems in Aboriginal populations, and is considered a leading Indigenous psychologist, both nationally and internationally.

“It is a great honour and privilege to be elected as a Fellow of the Academy. It is an acknowledgement that my research work is held in high regard by my peers, and that it is seen to be equally important,” she said.

“It is inspiring to see such a positive change towards a more diverse and representational organisation, and I would like to see this continue to grow into the future. I am confident that this will be the case.

“My goal is to continue to encourage the development of Indigenous models of wellbeing that benefit both Indigenous and mainstream groups.”

Professor Whitehouse was elected for his major scientific advances in autism assessment and intervention. The director of CliniKids is also the Academy’s youngest-ever Fellow at 40-years-old.

“There is something very special about being elected by your peers to an Academy of such high esteem,” he said.

“Recent research findings have transformed our understanding about autism, but the clinical implementation of this knowledge is still lagging. Translating these extraordinary research advances into genuine clinical impact is as hard as the research that underpins it, and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves.”

Professor Whitehouse advised younger researchers to “see the world as it is now, but imagine the world you want to see: your research goals are the gap between those two”.

Academy President Professor Ingrid Scheffer said she was delighted to see the largest ever number of women elected at 66 per cent.

“Academy Fellows are elected by their peers for their outstanding and ongoing contributions to health and medical sciences,” Professor Scheffer said. “The Academy is committed to supporting gender equity and championing diversity. It’s wonderful to see so many outstanding individuals join us as new Fellows.”