Gig Guide: CSIRO Covid-19 lead jumps to WA govt

Brandon How

CSIRO Covid-19 science leader Professor Seshadri Vasan has joined the Western Australian government’s newly reformed Office of Medical Research and Innovation within the state’s Department of Health. Professor Vasan will be the Director of Research. The office is led by the Health departments Deputy Director General Angela Kelly and is a reorganisation of the existing Research and Innovation Office at the department.

Professor Vasan worked at CSIRO since 2019 as a member of the Dangerous Pathogens Team based at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness. Notably the team worked on the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and helped bring it to clinical trials. He has also been an Honorary Professor at the University of York since 2017.

Professor Vasan. Image: CSIRO

Prior to joining CSIRO, he worked at the United Kingdom Department of Health and Social Care between 2011 and 2019. He has also held Adjunct Professor roles at the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research in India and the University of Malaya in Malaysia.

Western Australia’s Minister for Medical Research Stephen Dawson said that the office would push the state’s health and medical life sciences sector to global significance.

“Western Australia has some of the most dedicated researchers in the world, at a time of extraordinary growth for the health and medical research sector,” Mr Dawson said.

“WA is home to one of the most advanced clinical trial centres in the entire Asia-Pacific region, which will help position WA as a leading destination for biopharmaceutical companies.”

The Australian Space Agency has appointed a new deputy president, Dara Williams, who will begin on August 1. She fills the vacancy left by former deputy president Anthony Murfett who in January became the Head of the Technology and National Security Division at the Department of Industry, Science, and Resources.

Ms Williams moves from the Office of National Intelligence where she led major strategic projects related to the National Intelligence Community. Before that she led a division at the Australian Signals Directorate and has also previously led the Open Source Centre where she helped implement the Independent Intelligence Review 2017. Earlier in her career she spent almost two decades at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including three years as Minister-Counsellor (Political) at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.

Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said that Ms Williams’ extensive public service career made her the ideal deputy president.

“Dara’s extensive background in national security, intelligence and diplomacy means she has a deep understanding of the global strategic context for Australia’s space engagement in this current climate. This will be critical to the Agency as we continue to enhance our sovereign capability and collaborate with our international partners to deliver outcomes that benefit all Australians,” Mr Palermo said.

Australian Space Agency incoming deputy president Dara Williams

CSIRO has formed a new program facilitation team to support its industry PhD program. The program has expanded this year through funding under the federal government’s Research Commercialisation Action Plan. The team will feature eight staff, both existing roles and newly recruited. This includes program facilitator Michelle Luca who starts the role on July 11.

Ms Luca will be based out of Western Australia even as the recruitment ad for the position stated that applicants in the Eastern states were preferred. She leaves her role as the biomedical innovation program manager at biomed innovation accelerator Perth Biodesign to run out of the University of Western Australia. Ms Luca said she hopes to use her WA contacts to support the program.

“People are starting to realise that we’ve got industry and academic champions here in WA, particularly in the MedTech sector, and I think it’s been gaining traction over the past few years. Ideally, my contribution to the team would be to bring a lot of my WA networks in industry and university to the program,” Ms Luca said.

The new chief information security officer at Boeing is Mark Cross, who has been promoted from the role of business information security officer. He has worked in the cybersecurity for around 25 years.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has appointed its first female national president, Dr Tin Fei Sim from Curtin University. Dr Sim is a senior lecturer and the coordinator of international engagement in the Curtin Medical School. She was also previously the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s WA branch between 2017 and 2021.

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia President Dr Tin Fei Sim. Image: Curtin University

Brett Gale, the new Chief of Staff for the Minister of Industry and Science Ed Husic, started in the role last week. Mr Gale was previously the Chief of Staff for the then-Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen between 2008-2009. Mr Bowen is now the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. He was also previously an executive director for government and stakeholder relations at Lifeline Australia and an executive director at the Chifley Research Centre.

While the Department of Industry, Science, and Resources awaits the appointment of a Secretary, Acting Secretary role will be filled by Deputy Secretary David Williamson.

Kathleen Rowley has been promoted to head of division at the Department of Industry, Science, and Resources. Also promoted is Donna Looney who is head of division for industry growth. Andrew Matz has taken up a general manager role for national security engagement at the Department of Industry, Science, and Resource, moving from a program executive role at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Cathy Toze has been promoted to general manager at Services Australia. Daniel Curtis has been promoted to branch head at Austrade and Joffrid Mackett has been promoted to assistant secretary at the Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment.

Banking software-as-a-service firm Pismo has appointed Simon Keys as the head of business development for Oceania, which includes Australia and New Zealand.  He brings almost three decades of experience across financial, payment processing, and travel organisations. This includes leading Visa’s processing strategy for international markets and working American Express in the Asia Pacific region.

New South Wales-based soil carbon developer AgriProve has appointed its first National Innovation Manager, Andrew Bremner. Mr Bremner spent 14 years at manufacturing company John Deere working with agricultural equipment and tech before spending time at precision agriculture business PCT Agcloud.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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