Proud transition for SAHMRI’s largest theme

05 Dec 2022
Proud transition for SAHMRI’s largest theme

Gastrointestinal neuroscientist Professor Stuart Brierley will become co-leader of SAHMRI’s Lifelong Health theme when Professor Chris Proud enters a thoroughly well-earned retirement at the end of this year.

Professor Proud’s distinguished career has seen him work across the UK, Europe and North America before joining SAHMRI in 2014 to lead what was at the time called the Nutrition and Metabolism Theme. Since then, he has earned further leadership roles including Director of SAHMRI’s Hopwood Centre for Neurobiology and co-leading SAHMRI’s largest theme – Lifelong Health – alongside Associate Professor Peter Psaltis.

SAHMRI’s Executive Director, Professor Steve Wesselingh, says Professor Proud has consistently grown the scope, output and reputation of all areas that he has been involved with across the institute.

“Everyone who has worked with Chris will testify to his brilliance as a researcher,” he said.

“There is an objective metric in science known as an ‘h-index’ that quantifies a researcher’s output and impact. Only the very top echelon of researchers have an h-index above 100, and Chris is one of those.

“Equally as important for SAHMRI has been the outstanding leadership that comes so naturally to Chris. Succession planning has been relatively straightforward for us because of the number and quality of research leaders that Chris has fostered during his eight years with us.”

Professor Proud says it’s been a pleasure and an honour to serve as a leader at SAHMRI.

“I am particularly pleased to have been able to help to develop two great sets of researchers,” he said.

“The outstanding members of the Hopwood Centre of Neurobiology and, since 2019, the many talented people in Lifelong Health have developed into such highly effective, productive and collaborative research groupings. They all have so much to give to our shared goal of Living Longer, Living Better.

“I shall, of course, be very sad indeed to leave my role in Lifelong Health, however, I am delighted that the Theme will be under the direction of two exceptionally capable researchers - and research leaders - Peter and Stuart. I have come to know their many talents well from working with them over the past several years. I’d also like to acknowledge the excellent support I’ve had from so many people, including currently from our Theme’s Central Operations Group and from my partner in research and in life, Min Wang.”

Professor Proud says he will maintain a close association with SAHMRI, continuing collaborations and collaborations with colleagues across the organisation.

Professor Brierley is already a distinguished leader at SAHMRI, holding positions including Director of the Visceral Pain Research Group and Director of the Hopwood Centre for Neurobiology. He says he is indebted to Professor Proud for his support and guidance throughout the time they have worked together.

“I’d like to sincerely congratulate Chris on a truly outstanding career,” he said.

“Chris is recognised globally for his important research contributions that have helped determine how cells function in health and disease. At SAHMRI he has left an indelible legacy through his leadership roles, fostering and nurturing the next generation of researchers.

“I feel deeply privileged to be appointed to co-lead the Lifelong Health theme with Peter Psaltis, who I deeply respect as a person and a clinician/researcher. I look forward to working together and with all members of the theme, which contains a remarkable depth and breadth of world class researchers.

“Our theme has the scope and capacity to investigate mechanisms from the single cell through to clinical trials, uniquely positioning us to determine how chronic disease occurs and how we can take steps to prevent it or treat it.

“As our theme moto states, our goal is for people to live better for longer. By working together we’re striving to achieve this goal for everyone in the community.”

Professor Wesselingh says the new Lifelong Health Co-Leaders credentials speak for themselves.

“His national standing as a researcher was recognised with an NHMRC Investigator Grant and an NHMRC Development Grant last year and he has numerous publications in some of world’s highest impact factor journals including Nature, Cell, Gastroenterology and Gut,” said Professor Wesselingh.

“Stuart is also an exemplar of SAHMRI’s mission to deliver translational research, having partnered with industry in the development of the drug linaclotide to treat irritable bowel syndrome.”