On February 13th, the WAHTN bid farewell to our inaugural Chairman, the Hon Malcolm McCusker, and outgoing Executive Director, Prof Gary Geelhoed, in the presence of the Minister for Medical Research, the Hon Stephen Dawson MLC and colleagues in the Health and Medical sector. The WAHTN recognises the significant contributions made by both leaders, and as they embark on new adventures, it is important to reflect on their achievements.
The Hon Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC, the WAHTN’s inaugural chair 2014 – 2022
The Hon Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC is an accomplished Western Australian Barrister and Philanthropist with a distinguished career spanning over 50 years. He has held numerous leadership positions, including the Chairman of the WA Legal Aid Commission for 27 years, and the inaugural Chairman of the Advisory Board of the WA Constitutional Centre. Additionally, Malcolm has made significant contributions to the field of medical research, including serving as the inaugural Chairman and now Patron of the McCusker Foundation for Alzheimer’s Research, co-patron of the Ear Science Institute of Australia, and helping establish the WA Institute for Medical Research (now Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research).
Malcolm’s leadership and commitment to improving healthcare in Western Australia is demonstrated by his role as the inaugural Chair of the Western Australian Health Translation Network from 2014 to 2022. Under his guidance, the network gained recognition as a NHMRC-accredited Research Translation centre in 2017 and reaccreditation in 2022. His strong stewardship, expertise, and collaborative approach have united the collaboration of 23 partners and encouraged commitment to health research and innovation, fostered cooperation between clinical service delivery and research, provided funding opportunities, focused on consumer needs, and enhanced health research training and education.
Prof Gary Geelhoed, the outgoing Executive Director of WAHTN 2018 – 2022
Prof Gary Geelhoed, the outgoing Executive Director of the WAHTN, served from April 2018 through to July 2022. Prior to his appointment, Gary held the role of Western Australia’s Chief Medical Officer (2012-2018) and Assistant Director General of Clinical Services and Research, WA Department of Health. Gary has a strong background in paediatric emergency medicine and worked as the Director of the Emergency Department at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children for 22 years from 1990 to 2012.
Gary was instrumental in establishing the WA Health Translation Network in 2015 and played a significant role in achieving the network’s accreditation as a NHMRC Research Translation Centre in 2017. Gary’s interest in health reform, particularly in the area of clinical research and innovation, has driven his long-standing efforts to forge closer ties between hospitals and the research community to promote innovation and best practice in clinical care.
During his tenure as WAHTN’s Executive Director, Gary helped secure $6.2M in MRFF funding for the network. He also oversaw the successful reaccreditation of the WA Health Translation Network for another five years from 2022 to 2027. Additionally, Gary provided advocacy and leadership to collaborative efforts towards large-scale state-wide initiatives that support the WA research sector.
Gary’s efforts also extended to overseeing two significant national initiatives around wound care. He played a critical role in developing robust data to inform the reimbursement of wound care costs and updating the Wound Care Standards. Gary also championed Consumer and Community Involvement in health research, recognizing the importance of including consumers and carers in all aspects of research to ensure its relevance, suitability, implementability, and translation. His efforts in this area will help to ensure that research is conducted with a focus on the needs and experiences of the people it seeks to serve.
In conclusion, the contributions of both Malcolm McCusker and Gary Geelhoed to the WAHTN and the broader WA health and medical research sector have been immeasurable. Their dedication to public service and their accomplishments over the years have earned them numerous accolades and recognition, both nationally and internationally. Their legacy will continue to inspire and guide the medical research community in Western Australia. We wish them all the best in their new adventures and thank them for their significant contributions to the health and medical sector in Western Australia.
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WAHTN Media and Communications – Hannah Vu (08 6151 0919)