New Director announced after global search

Jul 2 2018

Professor Tom Walley

A leading research academic with distinguished credentials in clinical governance and health technology assessment has been announced as the incoming Director of the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), following a successful international recruitment drive.

Professor Thomas (Tom) Walley currently heads the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool, having formerly served as Director of the Health Technology Assessment program for the UK-based National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

He will commence his HMRI post in early November, replacing Professor Michael Nilsson who was recently appointed as Global Innovation Chair of the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Rehab Innovations (CRI).

HMRI Board Chair Kyle Loades says Professor Walley’s exceptional leadership qualities, strategic vision and entrepreneurial acumen will help take HMRI to new heights as the Institute celebrates its 20th anniversary and looks beyond.

“The HMRI Board found the right person in Michael Nilsson back in 2011 and we’ve attracted another global leader of the highest calibre to succeed him,” Mr Loades said. “It followed an exhaustive recruitment process that unearthed an outstanding field of candidates.

“Professor Walley is a highly experienced physician, pharmacologist and administrator with a broad understanding of the translational research landscape through his leadership of the Health Technology Assessment Program.

“This program grew almost sevenfold to become the largest funding stream for clinical research in the UK. I’m confident Professor Walley can continue HMRI’s growth trajectory in both research scope and funding, capitalising on the platform that Michael and his team have laid over the past six years.

“At the same time, we congratulate Michael and sincerely thank him for his six years of service as HMRI Director and for remaining as Director during the recruitment process, ensuring a smooth transition.”

Professor Walley also oversees NIHR programs in public health research, health services delivery and organisation, promoting the closer linkage of clinical practice and evaluation. He has been a major research contributor to clinical pharmacology through his peer-reviewed contributions on therapeutics, pharmaco-economics and drug utilisation.

“I have used all of these positions to promote the greater use of research evidence in healthcare policy, which has led to patient and public benefits,” Professor Walley says. “Now I’m very excited to move to Newcastle and to help develop HMRI to deliver its potential for improving the health of the people of the Hunter Region and Australia.

“HMRI can become a national and global leader in translating biomedical research into real and immediate benefits for people, building on the excellent work of Michael Nilsson and colleagues.”

Professor Walley received a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 2008 and is a Fellow of both the Academy of Medical Sciences and the British Pharmacological Society.

His prior connections to Australia include serving on an international review panel for the National Health and Medical Research Council in evaluating Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre applications.

As Professor Nilsson is currently in Europe and will transition to CRI upon his return, HMRI Research Council Chair Laureate Professor Paul Foster will be acting as interim director.

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

HMRI Media contact: Mark Rothfield | 4042 0590 | 0487 617 055 | mark.rothfield@hmri.org.au