Molecular and cellular biologist Professor Doug Hilton will be the next chief executive of the CSIRO, replacing its longest serving leader Dr Larry Marshall when he steps down later this month.
Professor Hilton is director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), where he leads a research program investigating blood cell production and how cells communicate with each other.
The WEHI is the oldest research institute in Australia and Professor Hilton has helped expand its program and translate its research by collaborating with the wider sector, industry partners and venture capitalists.
Professor Hilton was appointed to the role by the CSIRO’s board of directors. He will begin on September 29.
Industry and Science minister Ed Husic announced the appointment on Monday.
“Professor Hilton brings decades of experience to this role, which will no doubt prove invaluable to helping address some of Australia’s greatest scientific challenges,” Mr Husic said.
“Professor Hilton’s research into blood cell production and communication has helped Australians live longer, healthier lives.
“Beyond this, he has shown a real commitment to boost gender equality and diversity in sciences, something I am also incredibly passionate about. ”
Professor Hilton’s research focuses on blood cell production, function, and communication, with a goal to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of blood and immune disorders like blood cancers, arthritis and asthma.
He spent nearly four decades with the WEHI, including the last 14 as its director, overseeing the expansion of the institute and a push for collaboration with the wider medical research sector and industry.
“CSIRO is a unique national treasure, there to deliver science for the benefit of the community. The intent of CSIRO and my personal values are completely aligned, and I am looking forward to leading CSIRO as we work to solve our nation’s greatest challenges,” Professor Hilton said.
“I will join CSIRO, after leading WEHI where our staff and students strive to help people live healthier for longer. At CSIRO I know that same sentiment will be there and that’s incredibly important to me. I’m looking forward to meeting the researchers and those that support and enable them, and to hearing about the science.”
Professor Hilton is also 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.
He was director of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Cellular Growth Factors for four years and was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2004.
CSIRO board chair Kathryn Fagg welcomed the new chief executive as a “much-respected researcher, leader and communicator of the better outcomes science can deliver”.
“His fourteen 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,” she said
“Beyond research, Doug has emphasised the importance of strong institutional cultures, and furthered diversity in science.
Dr Larry Marshall will complete his third and final term as chief executive of CSIRO on June 30.
CSIRO executive director Kirsten Rose will act in the chief executive role from July 1 until Professor Hilton commences on September 29 this year.
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