A molecular and cellular biologist has been appointed chief executive of CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.
Announced last week, Professor Doug Hilton, who commences on September 29, is a molecular and cellular biologist, is the director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), the Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Chair in Medical Biology and head of the Department of Medical Biology in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne.
For the past 14 years, under his direction, WEHI has grown to become a multi-disciplinary organisation that makes fundamental discoveries and works with partners to translate these into improved outcomes in cancer, infectious and immune diseases, developmental disorders and diseases of ageing.
A biologist investigating blood cell production and how cells communicate with each other, Professor Hilton has continued an active research program.
He and his team hold over 20 patents and have translated their research through collaboration with venture capitalists and the biopharmaceutical industry.
CSIRO is also leading the way in new approaches to monitoring the environmental sustainability of forest management to help demonstrate the impacts and benefits of forest management on Australia’s natural capital – the soil, water, biodiversity and air essential to produce timber and other ecosystems services from forests.
CSIRO is developing strategies for keeping Australia’s forests productive and healthy into the future so that they continue to provide a range of products and services like timber, habitat and clean water.
This research by CSIRO contributes to carbon sequestration and forest sustainability.
“Doug is a much-respected researcher, leader and communicator of the better outcomes science can deliver,” CSIRO chair Kathryn Fagg, AO, said.
“His 14 years leading WEHI have been exemplified by his passion for research, mentoring and supporting young researchers, building the infrastructure to support the creativity of researchers and a dedication to translating research to improve the lives of Australians.”
Ms Fagg said that beyond research, Professor Hilton had emphasised the importance of strong institutional cultures and furthered diversity in science.
A Champion of Change Coalition member and a board member of Australians Investing in Women, he has led initiatives to boost gender equality and diversity and address the better representation of women in senior roles in the Australian medical research sector.
Commenting on his appointment, Professor Hilton said: “CSIRO is a unique national treasure, there to deliver science for the benefit of the community.
The intent of CSIRO and my values are completely aligned, and I look forward to leading the organisation as we work to solve our nation’s greatest challenges.”
The appointment follows eight years served by Dr Larry Marshall, who completes his third and final term as CEO this month.
Kirsten Rose, CSIRO’s Executive Director of Future Industries, has been appointed Acting Chief Executive from 1 July.