Premier's Science Fellowship Program

The Premier’s Science Fellowship Program aims to attract Premier's Science Fellows (distinguished researchers and leaders of international prominence) and Premier's Early to Mid-Career Fellows (supporting early to mid-career researchers) to Western Australia.

The intention is that each round of the Fellowship Program will appoint one or more packages of a Premier's Science Fellow and a supporting Premier's Early to Mid-Career Fellow per package, subject to the availability of funding.

Each package must address a specific area of need/opportunity (specific area of research) of strategic importance to WA that falls within one or more of the following Western Australian Government science and innovation priority areas:

  • energy
  • environment
  • food
  • health
  • mining
  • space
  • technology.

Each round will provide a number of options for the specific area of research to be targeted by each application for a package.

Appointed Fellows will be expected to:

  • deliver a range of benefits for WA
  • build on existing capacities and opportunities within WA
  • strengthen WA's national and international research standing
  • increase research capability and capacity (people and facilities)
  • improve collaboration
  • enhance engagement with industry and other end-users
  • attract research funding
  • be ambassadors for science in WA, including for the general public.

2019-20 Round

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Applications for the 2019-20 Round are now closed. This round sought applications for a package of a Premier's Science Fellow and a Premier's Early to Mid-Career Fellow to address a nominated specific area of research in WA, which was required to be one of the following 3 specific options (1, 2 or 3) or a specific area of research under the ‘other’ option as stipulated:

  1. Remote asset management.
  2. New energy technologies.
  3. Mine rehabilitation and closure.
  4. Other (in which case the specific area of research nominated for the package must fall under one or more of the following priority areas: energy, environment, food, health, mining, space and technology).

Assessment of this round is underway and the outcome will be announced in due course.

Contact us

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Dr Ros Dilworth
Senior Policy Officer
Email: ros.dilworth@jtsi.wa.gov.au

2018-19 Round

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The 2018-19 Round of the Fellowship Program sought applications to address the following Area of Research in WA: 

  • automation;
  • robotics;
  • artificial intelligence; and/or
  • machine learning.

The Premier's Early to Mid-Career (EMC) Fellow appointed under this round is Dr Mengbin (Ben) Ye.

Dr Ye's research is assisting to advance artificial intelligence (AI) research in WA by growing a new interdisciplinary area of AI research which sits at the intersection of engineering, mathematics and social science.

His work focuses on the mathematical modelling of opinion formation and collective decision-making in complex social networks.

These models will be used to explore how interactions in social networks cause opinions to change over time and how new ideas and behaviours spread.

Dr Ye will undertaking his research at Curtin University. He was attracted to WA from the Netherlands where he moved after completing a PhD at The Australian National University in Canberra.

2017 Round

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The 2017 Round of the Fellowship Program selected a package of a Premier's Science Fellow and a Premier's EMC Fellow to address the following Area of Research:

World-leading human phenomics research (using metabolic phenotyping) and data analytics with clinical applications targeted at precision medicine to deliver healthcare benefits and opportunities to Western Australia, including economic and social benefits.

Metabolic phenotyping (profiling) in biological systems involves the measurement and analysis of metabolites in biological materials such as blood and urine. Metabolites can help explain what is happening at a phenotypic level (observable physical and biochemical characteristics) as a result of the interactions between our genes and environmental factors, including lifestyle, diet, drug treatment and microbiomes (the microbial communities that live in and on our bodies).

Large-scale human metabolic phenotyping in human health and disease, and correlation with clinical data, aims to increase understanding to enable faster diagnosis and more effective treatments, including precision medicine.

Precision medicine is an emerging approach to disease prevention, detection and treatment tailored to the individual patient, subpopulation or population.

The potential contribution of metabolic phenotyping to precision medicine holds considerable promise, including for the development of indicators (biomarkers) for diagnosis and prognosis to aid clinical decision-making, analysis of drug suitability (effectiveness and safety), and monitoring patient journeys in hospital environments to improve patient care and reduce time in hospital.

Appointed Fellows

The following Fellows were appointed under the 2017 Round of the Fellowship Program:

  • Premier’s Science Fellow: Professor Elaine Holmes
  • Premier’s EMC Fellow: Dr Ruey Leng Loo.

Professor Holmes and Dr Loo relocated from the United Kingdom in early 2019 to commence their Fellowships. They are based in the Australian National Phenome Centre, which is led by Murdoch University and located in the Perkins South building on the Fiona Stanley Hospital Campus.

  • Professor Holmes and Dr Loo are assisting WA to play a significant role in human phenomics research (using metabolic phenotyping) targeted at precision medicine by building on the State's strengths in metabolic phenotyping.

In addition to advancing precision medicine, metabolic phenotyping also offers WA opportunities to:

  • build on the WA's strengths associated with clinical trials and internationally recognised population health cohorts, such as the Busselton Health Study and the WA Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study
  • not only link metabolic phenotyping data with health, lifestyle and clinical data, but also with genomics and proteomics data, and potentially imaging data.

Professor Holmes

Professor Holmes has over 20 years' experience in metabolic phenotyping technology and its applications, underpinned by analysis and integration of complex data. She is one of the pioneers and leading researchers in this field. Before taking up her Premier’s Science Fellowship, Professor Holmes was Head of the Division of Computational and Systems Medicine at Imperial College London.

Her Science Fellowship project has two complementary parts:

  1. Development of the technology platform and increasing the capability and reputation of WA in metabolic profiling.
  2. Application of the technology platform to address unmet needs in four exemplar clinical fields:
    • the impact of early life environment (in utero and newborn) on childhood and adult health – to identify early indicators of downstream adverse health events and potential interventions
    • phenomic characterisation of the liver and gastrointestinal diseases – for improved diagnosis, patient classification and new potential therapies
    • host-gut microbiome interactions in metabolic disease – to increase understanding and provide opportunities for new interventions
    • early metabolic predictors of dementia.

A key objective of this project is to create a framework for delivering high-quality metabolic phenotyping data to academics, clinicians and industry to serve the emerging area of precision medicine and to bridge the translational medicine gap between research and clinical implementation.

Professor Holmes resigned as a Premier’s Science Fellow on 31 January 2021 to take up a prestigious Australian Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council (ARC). She remains in WA to deepen understanding through her new ARC Fellowship of age-related changes in our gut microbes (which affect health and wellbeing, including in the ageing process).

EMC Fellow Dr Loo is now leading the above project previously led by Professor Holmes through her Premier’s Science Fellowship as part of an expanded EMC Fellowship Project.

Dr Loo

Dr Loo has expertise and experience in epidemiological studies and data analytics for metabolic phenotyping (particularly data modelling and visualisation), and specific phenomics research interests in nutrition and health.

Before commencing her Premier’s EMC Fellowship, she was a Senior Lecturer at the Medway School of Pharmacy, Universities of Greenwich and Kent. She and Professor Holmes have been research collaborators since Professor Holmes was one of her PhD supervisors.

From 1 February 2021, Dr Loo’s EMC Fellowship Project comprises the project previously led by Professor Holmes as well as Dr Loo’s original project related to precision nutrition. The latter project involves research aimed at delivering new knowledge of dietary influence on human metabolism and the microbiome in health/disease and providing a translational bridge to the food science industry.  

Dr Loo’s work is also helping to build critical mass in phenomics data analytics in WA.

Page reviewed 21 June 2021