SA’s Chief Scientist – boosting research and innovation in SA

SA’s Chief Scientist Prof. Caroline McMillen visited Flinders University on Wednesday, as part of the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute (FHMRI) seminar series to discuss how the University can contribute to boosting research and innovation here in SA.

There was clear agreement on the need to support clinician-researcher retention within SA and a recognition of the efforts of Flinders Uni and SA Health to attract exceptional people, by sharing our strong collaborations and achievements.

You need to be able to harness people who can bring industry and business in, not as university business development, but as innovation district intermediaries,” said seminar organiser Prof. Simon Conn.


Prof. Justine Smith, Prof. Raymond ChanProf. Andrew Bersten, Prof. Danny Eckert and Prof. Caroline McMillen

With the new city campus and Flinders’ Health and Medical Precinct underway, Prof. Caroline McMillen reminded us that proximity is a significant advantage in making sure we are further connected.

“Proximity can breed collaboration. It’s being able to get those collaborations to drive outcomes, particularly in innovation districts here in Adelaide, to get there quicker and faster amongst the globally competitive workforce and build that talent. One thing I really like is it reflects a phase of collaboration emerging and health with technologies that we hardly understand.”

The seminar was followed by a panel discussion to probe specific areas to boost Flinders research success. The discussion was led by Prof. Damien Keating, Interim Dean (Research) and Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute (FHMRI) Director with panel members, Prof. Justine Smith, Prof. Danny Eckert, Prof. Raymond Chan incoming Dean (Research), and  Southern Adelaide Local Health Network (SALHN) senior executives Dr. Kerrie Freeman and Prof. Andrew Bersten).

Afterwards, panel members visited the Health and Medical Research Building (HMRB) site, an amazing new space for Flinders’ researchers, due to be completed in Q1 2024.

The HMRB presents a significant opportunity for Flinders. Its strategic location next to Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders Private Hospital enables the cultivation of new networks and relationships. As the focal point of research driven by genuine patient needs, it has the potential to make an immediate impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

Prof. McMillen emphasised the importance for Flinders to focus on the health medical research plan and collaborate with government to create a sustained clinician-rich research environment, highlighting the need for senior researchers to consider state priorities and pitch their ideas accordingly to have a greater impact. She believes it is crucial to align with the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to address existing challenges and respond to the state’s needs rather than solely promoting individual research projects.

“We sit at an exciting precipice for Health and Medical Research within our state and especially at Flinders. Prof. Caroline McMillen was able to provide a global and state wide context for the research being undertaken here, and the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead. We are very grateful to her for providing such invaluable advice and sharing her own experiences”. Prof. Damien Keating


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