Leading Australian researcher receives high honour from French President

Emeritus Professor John Chalmers AC FAA, esteemed researcher based at The George Institute, at the University of Sydney, has now been appointed as an Officer in the National Order of Merit of France.

Advised via a personal letter from the French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, the title was formally conferred on Friday the 23rd July at a ceremony at the French Embassy in Canberra. It represents another fitting tribute to his extensive, international contributions to medical research, in particular his support of French-Australian research collaborations.

A fluent French speaker, John has been at the forefront of forging strong research ties between France and Australia, signing an ‘Amicale Franco-Australienne’ between the NHMRC here in Australia and it sister organisation in France in 1991- known as INSERM - leading to the establishment of bilateral exchange Research Fellowships. He also initiated the Franco-Australian meetings on Hypertension which have been held every five years since 1991 and have led to multiple exchanges and collaborations between individuals and institutions.

John’s scientific achievements are many. His groundbreaking research on the role of the brain in the development of hypertension helped establish Flinders University as a leading international centre in hypertension research and neuroscience and led to his admission to the Australian Academy of Science (FAA). More recently his studies on high blood pressure and the prevention of heart attack and stroke exemplified through the PROGRESS and ADVANCE trials, for which he and Stephen MacMahon are the two Co-Principal Investigators, have changed the way patients are treated throughout the world, and at the same time reinforced the links with France, since both were sponsored by the French pharmaceutical company, Servier.

John Chalmers’ research has been recognised through many awards including the Wellcome Medal, the RT Hall Prize of the Cardiac Society, the Volhard Medal of the International Society of Hypertension, the Zanchetti Award of the European Society of Hypertension and the Research Medal of the National Heart Foundation of Australia. He has held numerous appointments as Chair or President of major national and international boards and advisory bodies. His contributions to medical science and medical education have also been recognised through the award of many Honorary Doctoral degrees and Fellowships. He was appointed a Companion in the Order of Australia (AC) in 1991 in recognition of services to medical science and awarded the Centenary Medal in 2003 for his contribution to Australian society and science.

John Chalmers remains an active researcher at The George Institute Australia, where he holds the title of Senior Director. He chairs various study steering committees, mentors young clinical researchers from around the world, and continues to publish and lecture prolifically.