ASMR MRW®

ASMR Medical Research Week® May 30  – June 7 2019

The week is a flagship activity for The Australian Society for Medical Research, and a major highlight of the Australian health and medical research calendar, bringing the message of the benefits of health and medical research to the Australian public.

This annual event occurs in the first full week in June and features the ASMR medalist tour, public outreach events (including cinema events, meet a scientist dinners and community lectures), career events for high school and tertiary students, schools visits, an on-line schools quiz, scientific meetings and professional development programmes for medical researchers held across the country, with the range of events continuing to grow every year.

Each year the Society awards the ASMR Medal to an eminent stakeholder in the international medical research community for achievements in raising awareness. The ASMR medalists tour Australia, addressing audiences at dinners across the country and the National Press Club in Canberra.  The ASMR Medal is presented at the National Press Club event.

The tour promotes debate and discussion amongst scientists, politicians and the public, and attracts strong media interest.

Since 1998, an list of eminent scientists have generously shared their science, their vision and  their insights, inspiring, sometimes challenging and always informing, not only the health and medical research community but the community at large.

ASMR Medalist 2019 – Dr Elizabeth Finkel

Dr Elizabeth Finkel is an award winning Australian science journalist with a background in laboratory research. Dr Finkel is not a stranger to the ASMR. In 1982 she was the Campion Ma Playoust Award winner, an award for the best presentation of original research at the National Conference by an early career scientist. Now, in 2019, ASMR recognises Dr Finkel’s impressive contributions to science communication as the ASMR Medallist.

After being awarded her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Melbourne, Dr Finkel subsequently pursued a research career at the University of California, San Francisco. During this time, her investigation of the genes that sculpt a fruit fly egg into an embryo were published in Nature.

Upon returning to Melbourne she turned to freelance journalism, and since then has written for Science, Lancet, Nature Medicine, New Scientist, The Age and The Monthly among others, and has also broadcast for ABC Radio National. In 2005 Dr Finkel co-founded the popular science magazine, Cosmos, and from 2013 to 2018, served as Editor in Chief.

Dr Finkel also edited the 2012 edition of the Best Australian Science Writing. And she has written two books: ‘Stem Cells: Controversy at the Frontiers of Science’ which not only provides a clear lay explanation of just what stem cells are, but why they are important for medical research and how Australia found itself in the forefront of stem cell research. Her last book ‘The Genome Generation’ which covers genetic developments in diverse areas such as medicine, agriculture, and evolution, clearly contextualises their relevant applications to our society.

Elizabeth has received numerous awards for her journalism, including a Michael Daley Award for Best Radio Feature Broadcast, the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award, four Publishers Australia Excellence Awards and the National Press Club’s Higher Education Journalist of the Year Award. Her story “Fields of Plenty” for Cosmos Magazine won the Crawford Prize for agricultural journalism and more recently, she won the Department of Industry and Science Eureka Prize for Science Journalism for her Cosmos article “A Statin a day” – the first print article to win the award in 11 years. Notably she also received a Member of the Order (AM) for her work in science communication and support of a range of not-for-profit organisations.

Dr Finkel is not afraid to tackle complex and controversial issues. She has interrogated the promise of the stem cell revolution, the human genome project and gene therapy, delved into the conflict around GM crops and organic agriculture, and not shied from fierce debates around the use of statins to prevent heart disease or cannabis as a modern-day panacea.

Speaking of the team at Cosmos, Dr Finkel has said “We are a troupe of like-minded souls, passionate about journalism and sharing the wonders of science with the world.” And in her final Editor’s note for Cosmos, “Rational, evidence-based discourse is under threat everywhere. Our mission as science journalists has never been more poignant.”

The ASMR considers science communication to be the most important bridge between scientists, the community and policy makers.

In awarding her its medal, the ASMR recognizes  Dr Finkel’s work and highlights her position as a pioneer and leader of this field.

Read Dr Finkel’s latest work here