Professor Peter Klinken AC

Chief Scientist of Western Australia
Peter Klinken

The Chief Scientist of Western Australia provides advice on topics that are important to the future of science in Western Australia.

The Chief Scientist reports directly to the Minister for Science and provides independent, external advice to the WA Government on:

  • science and innovation in Western Australia.
  • broadening the economy through science.
  • developing science industries in the state.
  • promoting Western Australia as a science leader in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Chief Scientist works closely with the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation and plays a key role in:

  • enhancing collaboration locally, nationally and internationally.
  • attracting Commonwealth and industry investment into Western Australian science.
  • building leading-edge scientific capacity in the state.
  • promoting science policies and initiatives at meetings across academia, industry, Government and the community.
  • acting as an ambassador for science, helping the WA Government raise public awareness of the importance of science.

Professor Klinken is a leading Western Australian medical research scientist, highly regarded for his work in advancing the understanding of genes involved in leukaemia, cancer and anaemia. After obtaining his PhD from the University of Western Australia, he undertook research at the US National Institutes of Health in Washington and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne.

His previous roles have included Professor in Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Western Australia; Director of Research at the Royal Perth Hospital; and the Director of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (previously the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research).

Under his stewardship, the Harry Perkins Institute attracted world-class researchers to WA and made numerous acclaimed medical discoveries. He also spear-headed the development of two new state-of-the-art medical research facilities at the QEII Medical Centre and Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Professor Klinken has brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the role of Chief Scientist of Western Australia, providing independent expert advice to the WA Government. He has supported the Government in growing the WA science industries to achieve future prosperity for Western Australians, as well as assisted with changes to legislation.

Professor Klinken’s skills and knowledge have been especially relevant in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic where he assisted the WA Government, academia and industry by:

  • working with WA-based companies and local experts to produce face shields and obtaining Therapeutic Goods Administration approval in a short space of time.
  • working with WA-based companies to produce sanitisers for WA’s Department of Health.
  • collaborating with academia/industry to have four different prototype ventilators developed from scratch by Curtin University and three WA-based companies for the WA Department of Health - this demonstrated the amazing ability of WA’s manufacturing capability to pivot and deliver during an unparalleled health emergency.
  • key involvement with the State’s DETECT/CRISP programs for coronavirus detection, as well as chairing the panel that evaluated $3 million worth of COVID-19 related research grants for the WA Department of Health.
  • working to identify projects in each of the five WA Universities to provide additional research capability into COVID-19 worth $5 million.
  • participation on the Forum of Australian Chief Scientists and the Rapid Research Information Forum to provide the best scientific information available as quickly as possible to questions posed by the Australian Government. 

He is also passionate about issues for Indigenous people, and ensuring that the education system provides opportunities for everyone in a rapidly changing world.

Professor Klinken was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2017. He was Western Australian Citizen of the Year (Professions) in 2008, and made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (2015) and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (2016).

Appointment

Professor Klinken began his tenure on 10 June 2014, and is Western Australia’s third Chief Scientist. He has since been reappointed three times, with his tenure continuing to June 2022. Professor Bruce Hobbs AO was the inaugural Chief Scientist of Western Australia (2003-2006), followed by Professor Lyn Beazley AO (2006-2013).

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Page reviewed 16 November 2020