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Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque: Bridging science and healthcare policy

Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque’s extensive global experience in medicine, research and public health uniquely qualifies him as Deputy Secretary for the new Clinical Innovation and Research division of the NSW Ministry of Health.

Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque, Deputy Secretary, Clinical Innovation and Research division, NSW Ministry of Health. Photo supplied.
Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque, Deputy Secretary, Clinical Innovation and Research division, NSW Ministry of Health. Photo supplied.

Growing up in a remote community in northern Quebec, Jean-Frédéric Levesque knew he wanted a career in health from an early age. Today, he has more than 150 publications to his name, and experience working in various medicine, research and public health roles across Canada, India, the UK and Australia.

This diverse expertise positions Levesque to foster an integrated healthcare system that seamlessly incorporates fundamental research, its translation into practice, and effective implementation for improved patient outcomes. It also led to his recent appointment as Deputy Secretary of the newly formed division of Clinical Innovation and Research within the NSW Ministry of Health.

This new division brings together the Office for Health and Medical Research and the Agency for Clinical Innovation, providing a central point for coordination and strategy setting, and driving focus on state-wide research and innovation priorities. Both entities will continue to operate separately but will be overseen by a Deputy Secretary, a role that Levesque now assumes in addition to his position as Chief Executive Officer of the Agency for Clinical Innovation.

A focus on healthcare access and equity

Levesque’s career began with a medical degree at the University of Montreal, followed by a doctorate in public health, specialising in healthcare inequalities in urban South India. He continued to research while working as a clinician in Quebec. That hands-on experience as a clinician left him aware of the importance of considering how a patient experiences healthcare. This deep understanding, coupled with his passion for global health, led him to Australia 10 years ago to take on the role of chief executive of the Bureau of Health Information.

Levesque says his proudest achievement in research is a conceptual framework on healthcare access and inequity, which he developed and published in the International Journal of Equity In Health in 2013.

“The research is used by many countries and systems in structuring their work on access and equity programs. It has been really successful for better structuring how we understand vulnerable and marginalised populations and access to healthcare,” says Levesque of the paper, which has been cited more than 2200 times.

International insights

Levesque’s international experience has helped him bring a unique perspective to his work in Australia. He believes learning from different healthcare systems and fostering international collaborations will be crucial to driving innovation and improving patient outcomes.

“Every healthcare system and academic environment has its distinct features, but they share more similarities than differences,” he says.

“We need to concentrate on global comparative research and forge collaborations between countries to prevent duplication and capitalise on each other’s achievements and strengths. Though evidence-based medicine has created common core elements, it’s vital to adjust and incorporate them according to the specific context, fully harnessing the learning potential from these shared aspects.”

Leading the new division of Clinical Innovation and Research

As the newly appointed Deputy Secretary, he aims to increase the prominence of health and medical research and innovation within NSW Health. He envisions creating platforms and opportunities for stakeholders in the research and innovation ecosystem to collaborate and work together strategically.

Levesque is committed to connecting clinicians, consumers and systems leaders to guide innovation and system change. He foresees the new division as being a conduit for bringing the clinician voice closer to health system decision making.

“Combining the Agency for Clinical Innovation, which applies research and innovation to actual clinical practice in NSW, and the Office for Health and Medical Research, which stimulates research and innovation in specific areas, offers valuable opportunities to create a more seamless integration from research to patient care,” he says.

With a wealth of experience and a proven track record in research, clinical practice, and healthcare leadership, Levesque is well-equipped to lead and foster collaboration as he settles into his new role.

Updated 1 year ago