The University of Sydney School of Medicine has appointed its first female Head of School and Dean since the school’s inception in 1856, Professor Cheryl Jones.
A distinguished physician and scientist, Professor Cheryl Jones is internationally recognised as a leader in infectious diseases. She specialises in emerging infectious diseases of the brain in children and mother to child transmitted viral infections.
“The world is a very different place to when Sydney Medical School first started training doctors in 1856. I am very excited to lead the Medical School in this new era, we are ‘makers and shapers’ of the new Faculty of Medicine and Health,” said Professor Jones.
“Together we will shape the health workforce of tomorrow, and harness technology, precision medicine and big data, to prevent or tackle the big health challenges of today.”
Her clinical and research training in infectious diseases began at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in the late 90s- where she completed her doctoral work on herpes simplex vaccines for her PhD and where she subspecialised in Paediatric Infectious Diseases.
Over the last two decades, Professor Jones has combined clinical work and research as a clinician scientist with leadership roles in Sydney and Melbourne. She has been an infectious diseases paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital Westmead and Professor of Paediatrics and Deputy Dean of Sydney Medical School from 2012 to 2017.
She then moved to Melbourne to become the Stevenson Chair of Paediatrics and Department Head, and an infectious diseases physician at Royal Children’s Hospital. She was also appointed the Executive Director of the NHMRC Melbourne Academic Centre for Health.
Professor Jones has obtained over $32 million in peer reviewed funding including 3 NHMRC Centres for Research Excellence and has over 160 peer reviewed publications. As a result of her influence on global health policy and practice through the development of diagnostic and management guidelines for childhood diseases, she’s also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health & Medical Sciences (FAHMS).
With the historic launch of the Faculty of Medicine and Health in 2018, consolidating six faculties and ten clinical schools, Professor Jones returned to Sydney as Deputy Executive Dean (Academic) for the new faculty in February 2019, before taking on her new leadership position as Head of School and Dean of Sydney Medical School.
Professor Robyn Ward, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Medicine and Health, was delighted to have Professor Jones lead Sydney Medical School during this historical time of transformation.
“As an eminent clinician scientist and academic leader, Cheryl is very well placed to lead the Sydney Medical School,” Professor Ward explained.
“Cheryl has a strong commitment to whole of person care and recognises the inherent multidisciplinary nature of patient care, teaching and research.
In this new leadership role Cheryl will bring all her skills to bear to ensure that the school works as part of a new faculty – which is on a mission to make and shape healthcare.”
Professor Jones’ landmark selection demonstrates the school’s continued commitment to women in STEM-M. The University of Sydney was the first tertiary institution in Australia to admit female students to medicine in 1885.
Since then female participation in medicine has increased significantly. Now, women make up well over half of the University’s staff community and the University continues to promote gender equity through the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative. The University also received a SAGE Bronze award for its commitment to gender equity this year. Professor Jones has signed the Panel Pledge as part of her commitment to Diversity and Inclusion and Cultural competency.