ACT News

New director for John Curtin School of Medical Research

Professor Simon Foote, one of Australia's leading medical researchers, has been appointed to lead Australian National University's John Curtin School of Medical Research.

Professor Foote, who is  currently dean of Macquarie University's Australian School of Advanced Medicine, will start as the new director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) in October when he takes over from Professor Chris Parish who was in the role since early last year. 

Professor Foote said he was honoured to have been appointed as JCSMR's new director.

''I'm really excited about it. I've had a reasonable amount of experience leading research, encouraging researchers to achieve their utmost, increasing funding ... it's the sort of basic bread-and-butter stuff that you need to be able to do,'' he said.

''But I also really enjoy the science that's happening at these places and the science at John Curtin School is actually brilliant.'' 

In addition to his experience, the John Curtin School of Medical Research will also benefit from the research being undertaken by Professor Foote and his team, who will be joining him. 

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Their current work includes trying to discover new malaria drugs and research into the high incidence of kidney disease in indigenous populations.

Professor Foote's research interests are in the genetic control of susceptibility to disease, with particular focus on infectious disease.  

He said the role of medical research could not be underestimated. 

"All medical treatment is based on research discoveries by places like the John Curtin School so the ability to treat patients with the new diseases that are inflicting us at the moment, so the increase in diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease ... they're all going to be treated with new drugs that are only discovered in places like the John Curtin School," he said. 

"We've got to take the resources of a university like ANU and apply them to diseases that affect the community."

ANU vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Young, said Professor Foote was very experienced and he was selected after an international search for the right candidate. 

"In the past we've produced two Nobel Prize winners and we were very keen to attract a new director who could both lead the school in the way we would like but also in their own right, was an eminent researcher," he said.  

Professor Foote has worked at the Whitehead Institute at MIT in Massachusetts, as division head at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne and as the director of University of Tasmania's Menzies Research Institute.