Australian Council of
Learned Academies

Through the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) we collaborate with Australia’s other three Learned Academies – Australian Academy of ScienceAcademy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and Applied (formerly the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering) – on interdisciplinary research projects of national importance.

ACOLA provides a forum that brings together great minds, broad perspectives and knowledge. It is the nexus for true interdisciplinary cooperation to develop integrated problem solving and cutting edge thinking on key issues for the benefit of Australia

Two major reports have been released in 2018 from the Horizon Scanning series for the Office of the Chief Scientist that draw on the disciplinary expertise from within Australia’s four Learned Academies to consider Australia’s future, the opportunities and challenges. Commissioned by the Commonwealth Science Council, the Horizon Scanning series aims to influence government priorities and inform better practice across many sectors and industries. Our Fellows and Academy representatives in these projects provide valuable humanities expertise to ensure that social, cultural and community concerns remain central in the advice provided by ACOLA to decision-makers.

The Future of Precision Medicine in Australia report was launched in January 2018 by the Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP. The report focuses on the possibilities and complexities facing Australia’s engagement with data on genetic and biochemical makeup, technologies for precise management of health and disease and how broader implementation may realise greater medical, health, lifestyle and economic benefits for Australia. We are especially grateful therefore to Professor Warwick Anderson FAHMS FASSA FAHA for his role in this project, championing the role of ethics, access and equity.

The Synthetic Biology in Australia: An outlook to 2030 study recognises the potential this technology has in new designing new biological parts and devices and changing natural biological systems. With synthetic biology being applied across Australian health care, climate change control, agriculture and manufacturing there remains uncertainty. The report significantly contributes to the social, cultural, ethical and regulatory debates relating to the application of synthetic biology. We congratulate Academy Fellow and philosopher of science with a focus on biology and psychology Professor Paul Griffiths FRSN FAHA for his valued direction on this project.