Professor CAROLINE MCMILLEN

Chief Scientist South Australia

Three key factors which have made a difference:

  1. Backing insights about how the future will be different from the present – critical for shaping bold strategy in the face of fierce competition in a rapidly moving world.

  1. Taking the time to enjoy, engage and connect with people from many backgrounds – it is a privilege of leadership and starting up a conversation across a table at the end of a long day can lead to unexpected collaborations.

  1. Understanding that personal integrity is at the absolute heart of leadership and that this is not a negotiable.


Caroline McMillen is the Chief Scientist of South Australia. Professor McMillen was the University of Newcastle as Vice-Chancellor and President. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University, and she completed her medical training at the University of Cambridge.

In 1983, Professor McMillen moved to Australia to lecture at Monash University. In 1992, she was appointed Professor, Chair and Head of the Department of Physiology at the University of Adelaide. In 2005, she accepted the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President: Research and Innovation at the University of South Australia, a position she held until her move to Newcastle.

As a biomedical researcher, Professor McMillen is internationally recognised for her work into the impact of the nutritional environment before birth on the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and obesity in adult life. Her research group has been funded continuously for two decades by both the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). She has published more than 200 publications and been invited to present at more than 70 international and national meetings. She is currently the Chair of the Endocrinology, Reproduction and Development Commission of the International Union of Physiological Societies - the only Australian Chair on this international body.

She has served on state government groups focused on building innovation, climate change, manufacturing and the resources industry. Professor McMillen was also a member of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council Working Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders focusing on maternal and peri-natal health. She has served as Chair of the ARC and NHMRC's grant review panels.

Professor McMillen is committed to building collaborative partnerships between universities, government, industry and communities that contribute to the economic, environmental, social and cultural health of Australia.