Leading health system expert to steer direction of University of Sydney health and medical research

21 February 2014

The University of Sydney - one of Australia's leading research universities - has appointed Professor Michael Reid to chart the way forward to achieve world pre-eminence in health and medical research.

Professor Reid has had a long and successful leadership career in the Australian healthcare sector including as Director General of NSW Health and Queensland Health, Chief of Staff to former federal health minister Nicola Roxon, and NSW Ministry of Science and Medical Research Director General. He has chaired the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council, and been a member of many prominent boards including the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare and the National e-Health Transition Authority. He is currently Deputy Chair of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and a member of the National Health Performance Authority.

Professor Reid's University of Sydney appointment will see him chair a high-level steering committee charged with advancing the way the University's health and medical research enterprise operates over the next decade, amid changes to the sector in Australia and globally.

The establishment of the steering committee for implementation is a key recommendation of the University's Health and Medical Research Strategic Review. Released in June last year, the review advises the University on how to optimise its considerable resources to achieve global leadership in collaborative cross-disciplinary research, aimed at solving society's significant health challenges.

The University's Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Michael Spence, said he was thrilled that Professor Reid, who has also served as director of the Policy and Practice Program at the George Institute for Global Health, had accepted the University's invitation to help it maximise the potential of its research enterprise.

"Professor Reid is one of Australia's foremost leaders in healthcare having spent more than 30 years working in the health and human services industry - as a public sector manager, a reviewer of health systems, a reformer of health agencies and a planner of health services," Dr Spence said.

"He also has a strong interest and background in health equity and is passionate about the appropriate distribution of services to disadvantaged groups such as Indigenous Australians and those with a mental illness. His ability to get people on board and work on challenging projects means he is the ideal person to help the University focus and optimise our resources in a way that will increase our impact and leverage our strengths."

The University of Sydney has a proud tradition of health and medical research that has scale, quality, breadth of capability and extensive links to the health system, producing high-quality outputs across diverse fields. However its loosely structured research environment has been challenged by a shift in focus towards governments rewarding large-scale partnerships and collaborations that address major community health challenges and healthcare costs.

The recommendations of the University's Health and Medical Research Strategic Review included the establishment of four strategic priority areas for research focus that build on the University's research strengths, inspire its researchers and address national and international health challenges - obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease; cancer; mental health and neuroscience; and infectious diseases.

It also suggested optimising capacity within these areas to contribute to integrated healthcare, population health and health services, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, as well as increasing industry links and focusing on practical application.

The review further recommended supporting strong partnerships that increase opportunities for translation and commercialisation; placing renewed emphasis on attracting and retaining researchers of the highest quality; enabling greater integration with the health care provider networks; and enhancing business processes and IT systems to facilitate cross-disciplinary, cross-faculty and cross-organisational health and medical research.

Dr Spence said that the University was already realising some of the recommendations of the review with the opening this year of the building for the Charles Perkins Centre- a $385 million research and education hub dedicated to cross-disciplinary research into obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. He said he looked forward to working with Professor Reid and University of Sydney researchers to extend this model of research and cross-disciplinary collaboration further across the University.

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