Each year, NHMRC recognises excellence in the health and medical research sector by celebrating individual achievements, leadership and the exceptional contributions of Australian researchers to their fields of research.
Rising Star Award
The Rising Star Award is given to the top-ranked application by an Indigenous research in the Early Career Fellowship scheme.
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute - Doctor Gee has both Aboriginal and Celtic Australian heritage. His grandfather was born near Belyuen, an Aboriginal community just outside of Darwin, and his great-grandmother was from the Barkly Tablelands. Doctor Gee worked at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service for 11 years before taking up a position at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. His PhD on resilience and recovery from trauma among Aboriginal help-seeking clients included development of the Aboriginal Resilience and Recovery Questionnaire. The measure is being used in research and in service delivery to help evaluate community-designed programs. Doctor Gee was a founding board member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation and currently sits on the Commonwealth Million Minds Advisory Panel.
Gustav Nossal Award
NHMRC’s Gustav Nossal Award is named in honour of Sir Gustav Nossal and his pioneering work in the field of immunology. It is awarded to the highest ranked applicant of NHMRC’s Postgraduate Scholarships in the field of medical and dental research.
University of Queensland - Doctor Chan is currently a full-time PhD student with the Australasian Kidney Trials Network at the Princess Alexandra Hospital/University of Queensland. Doctor Chan is a Nephrology Staff Specialist at the Metro South and Ipswich Nephrology and Transplant Services, as well as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland. Doctor Chan’s clinical research interests focus on clinical epidemiology and population health, and he is currently studying the epidemiology, predictors, outcomes and prevention of infectious complications of kidney transplantation. Doctor Chan’s thesis will explore the predictors and pathogenesis of infectious complications following kidney transplantation, and examine the feasibility, safety and efficacy of innovative approaches to mitigate this burden.
Marshall and Warren Award
The Marshall and Warren Award recognises the best highly innovative and potentially transformative grant from among all the applications nominated for this award in each year’s Project Grants. The award is named after Australian Nobel Laureates Professors Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, who were awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their discovery of the bacterium helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.
University of Sydney - Doctor Wise is a Bioengineer at The Heart Research Institute (HRI) and Conjoint Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Central Clinical School of the University of Sydney. Originally trained as a chemist, Doctor Wise has spent a decade working in multi-disciplinary research developing improved implantable vascular devices and tissue mimicking biomaterials, specialising in their engineering, blood compatibility and interactions with endothelial and smooth muscle cells. He has now established himself as an independent researcher, becoming leader of the Applied Materials Group at HRI in 2015. Doctor Wise’s innovative approach aims to provide a cell-free, off-the-shelf synthetic graft that is durably effective, and dramatically improves outcomes for patients with coronary or peripheral artery disease.
The objective of the Project Grants scheme is to support the creation of new knowledge by funding the best investigator-initiated research project plan of five years, or less, in any area relevant to human health. The award is given to the highest ranked applicant in NHMRC’s Project Grant scheme.
Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - Professor Dunwoodie gained a PhD researching muscle development at the Children’s Medical Research Institute. Professor Dunwoodie undertook her postdoctoral training in embryology at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, where she identified genes required for mouse embryogenesis. Professor Dunwoodie joined the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in 2000 and identified the genetic causes of various congenital defects. Her team is revealing the impact that environmental factors and gene-environment interaction have on mammalian embryogenesis. Recently they discovered a new cause of human birth defects (NAD deficiency) that might be prevented with vitamin B3. Professor Dunwoodie leads the Embryology Laboratory, the Chain Reaction Program in Congenital Heart Disease Research, and directs the Cardiovascular Innovation Centre.
The Development Grants scheme supports the commercial development of a product, process, procedure or service that if applied, would result in improved health care, disease prevention or provide health cost savings. The award is given to the highest ranked applicant in NHMRC’s Development Grant scheme.
Burnet Institute - A/Professor Anderson is Deputy Director of the Burnet Institute and co-head of the Global Health Diagnostics Laboratory. His research has a strong translational focus in biomarker discovery and subsequent development of novel, point-of-care (POC) tests in areas of unmet medical need, especially in infectious diseases that affect resource-poor communities worldwide. A/Professor Anderson’s lab has developed a number of Point of Care tests and devices in areas including viral hepatitis and liver disease, HIV and syphilis. He is also founder and CEO of Nanjing BioPoint Diagnostics, a Burnet spinoff established in China to commercialise POC tests.
University of Queensland - Professor Walker is the Director of the Australian Infectious Disease Research Centre. His research focuses on the mechanism by which group A streptococcus (GAS) causes invasive disease, with the aim of developing GAS vaccines. Diseases range from mild skin infections to more severe diseases such as scarlet fever, septicemia, and toxic shock syndrome. GAS is one of the five most frequent causes of infectious disease deaths worldwide. Professor Walker and his team have developed an animal model of group A streptococcus (GAS) pharyngitis. They will test the efficacy of GAS vaccines, in combination with experimental adjuvants to prevent disease.
The objectives of the Research Fellowship scheme is to foster an intellectual environment, which supports and builds the capacity of Australian research for the future and to create knowledge through investment in research, which improves health and contributes to Australia’s prosperity. The award is given to the highest ranked applicant in NHMRC’s Research Fellowship scheme.
University of Melbourne - Professor McGorry is a world leader in the development of safe, effective treatments and transformational reform of mental health services for young people. He is the key architect of the headspace model and its national and international expansion. From 1992, Professor McGorry led the design and global scaling up of early intervention for psychosis programs. Professor McGorry is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and was also the 2010 Australian of the Year. His research has created new models of care and populated them with more evidence based treatments which are producing better outcomes for those with mental illness.
The Practitioner Fellowships scheme aims to support research which results in the translation of new evidence into improved clinical practice and health policy and which delivers improvements in health and healthcare to Australians. The award is given to the highest ranked applicant in NHMRC’s Practitioner Fellowship scheme.
University of Melbourne - Professor Choong is the Sir Hugh Devine Chair of Surgery, and Head of Department of Surgery at the University of Melbourne. He is also the Director of Orthopaedics, Chair of the Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcoma Service at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and the recent past President of the Australian Orthopaedic Association. Professor Choong’s research focuses on optimising care of end staged osteoarthritis, a condition that is the largest contributor to musculoskeletal disorders and leading cause of disability in Australia. The main targets of his research are to optimise patient selection, understand and improve patient and surgeon decision making, establish evidence-based alternative to surgery and improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of surgery.
Frank Fenner Early Career Fellowship
This award is named to honour the achievements of Professor Frank Fenner. This Fellowship is awarded to the highest ranked applicant from the Biomedical or Public Health Early Career Fellowship category whose research focus is in an area of international public health application, and best reflects the qualities exemplified in Professor Fenner’s career.
University of New South Wales - Doctor Causer is a medical epidemiologist with a long-standing interest in infectious diseases. Doctor Causer has international clinical and field experience, gained through work with the World Health Organization and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a range of infectious diseases including polio and malaria. Her academic career began in earnest when she joined the Kirby Institute, with her research focusing on HIV and sexually transmissible infections, in particular evaluations of new point-of-care diagnostics. Doctor Causer hopes that her future research will continue to explore the role of novel diagnostics to improve the control of infectious diseases, with the goal of informing their sustainable scale-up to maximize their impact in Australia and the Asia Pacific region.
Career Development Fellowships: Clinical – Level 1
Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology - A/Professor Ingles is the Head of the Clinical Cardiac Genetics Group in the Agnes Ginges Centre for Molecular Cardiology at Centenary Institute, The University of Sydney and Cardiac Genetic Counsellor, Department of Cardiology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. A/Professor Ingles has more than 15 years’ experience working with families with inherited heart diseases. She co-established and oversees the Australian Genetic Heart Disease Registry and she has won a number of awards. The focus of her research is to make a positive impact on the management of patients and their families with inherited heart diseases, by better understanding the clinical, genetic and psychosocial aspects of disease.
Career Development Fellowships
The purpose of the Career Development Fellowships (CDF) scheme is to develop Australian health and medical early to mid-career researchers. It aims to enable investigators to establish themselves as independent, self-directed researchers; expand capacity for biomedical, clinical, public health and health service delivery research, and for evidence-based policy development in Australian health systems. It encourages the translation of research outcomes into practice while closing the gap between research and industry. The award is given to the highest ranked applicant in each of the biomedical, clinical, industry and population health pillars of the Career Development Fellowship scheme.
Career Development Fellowships: Clinical – Level 2
Menzies School of Health Research - Professor Davis is an infectious diseases physician at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle and a Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin. His key area of research interest is severe bacterial infections, with a focus on investigator initiated clinical trials. His key areas of research interest are clinical trials in severe infectious diseases, aiming to address the many evidence gaps in clinical management of Staph aureus blood stream infection, bone and joint infections, and severe sepsis. Professor Davis is the current president of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases.
Career Development Fellowships: Population Health – Level 1
University of Western Australia - Doctor Brinkman is a paediatric epidemiologist and Director of the Fraser Mustard Centre, an innovative initiative of the Telethon Kids Institute in partnership with the Department for Education in South Australia to enhance research translation into policy and practice. Internationally, Doctor Brinkman works with various governments and donor organisations to monitor and evaluate policy and programs to enhance child health and development. She has a commitment to practical, pragmatic and translatable research. Her primary research is on societies’ impact on child development, with particular focus on those living in highly disadvantaged communities.
Career Development Fellowships: Population Health - Level 2
Monash University - A/Professor Guo has considerable research expertise and experience in assessment of environmental health issues. He is particularly renowned in the niche areas of extreme weathers, air pollution and human health using novel applications of advanced statistical models. A/Professor Guo is on the Editorial Board for Environmental Health Perspectives, Environment International, and Peer. A/Professor Guo’s research focuses on advancing our understanding of environmental impacts on health, and will provide strategies and supportive evidence for policy decisions on mitigating the health impacts of extreme weathers and air pollution.
Career Development Fellowships: Industry – Level 2
Monash University - As a Research Group Head at Hudson Institute, Associate Professor Lim's research focuses on translating regenerative medicine and cell therapy discoveries to clinical outcomes. Much of her research has been on understanding the potential for amniotic stem cells as cellular therapy for urgent unmet medical needs. Her vision is to increase patient access to regenerative medicine by working with industry and clinical collaborators to introduce innovative technologies that will expedite regulatory approval of regenerative medicines in a safe and efficacious manner.
Career Development Fellowships: R.D. Wright Biomedical – Level 1
Australian National University - Doctor Man received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK, for his work on the immune system in the host defence against salmonella infection. He obtained his postdoctoral training from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, USA. Currently, he is a group leader at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University. Doctor Man’s research will explore ways of harnessing the activity of killer proteins to enhance immunity to deadly bacterial infections. Understanding how these anti-microbial proteins work could reveal new ways to fight infectious diseases.
Career Development Fellowships: R.D. Wright Biomedical – Level 2
South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute - Professor White is the Director of the Cancer Program at SAHMRI and Professor in Medicine, Paediatrics and Sciences at the University of Adelaide. Her current research focus is precision medicine in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). Her research integrates genomics, metagenomics, bioinformatics and functional analyses, to provide readily accessible diagnostic screening and therapeutic triage paradigms that will transform treatment and outcomes for our most vulnerable ALL patients. She has held numerous international, national and local peer reviewed grants, authored more than 95 scientific publications, and is an inventor on several patents. Professor White is the ALL Flagship Lead for Australian Genomics and the SA Scientific lead for Zero Children’s Cancer. In 2014, Professor White received the ASMR Leading Light award and in 2016, she was awarded the University of Adelaide James McWha medal.
Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowships: Clinical
University of New South Wales - Professor Butler is a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Senior Principal Research Scientist at Neuroscience Research Institute. She is internationally known for her work on the neural control of human respiratory muscles in health and disease. Her research aims to improve respiratory health in the critically ill and those with tetraplegia through the completion of novel clinical trials to improve respiratory muscle function. After her PhD, Professor Butler was awarded a NHMRC Early Career Fellowship and worked at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, University of Miami. Professor Butler returned to Australia where she established her own respiratory and spinal cord injury laboratory.
Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowships: Biomedical
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research - Doctor Tham studied molecular biology at UC Berkeley and received her PhD from Princeton University. She is currently a Howard Hughes-Wellcome Trust International Research Scholar and Joint Division Head of Infection and Immunity at WEHI. Her team’s research focuses on better understanding host-pathogen interactions that lead to malaria infection with the overarching aim to design new inhibitors that stop the malaria infection. For her work on malaria parasite invasion, Doctor Tham has been awarded the 2011 Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research (team prize), the 2017 David Syme Research Prize and the 2018 Burnet Prize.
Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowships: Public Health
University of New South Wales - Scientia Professor Christensen graduated in Psychology from Sydney University in 1977, and worked in clinical practice, hospitals and educational settings while completing Clinical Psychology in 1982, and a PhD at UNSW in 1989. Her post-doctoral research was conducted at St Thomas’s Hospital in London, followed by 22 years at the Australian National University. In 2012, Scientia Professor Christensen took up the role of Chief Scientist at the Black Dog Institute. She is a member of the Academy of Social Sciences Australia, and a founding member of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and the recipient of numerous awards. Scientia Professor Christensen’s research will evaluate the effectiveness of an integrated approach to suicide prevention using app and online interventions.
Outstanding Contribution Award
2018 Biennial Award
NHMRC’s Outstanding Contribution Award recognises outstanding long-term contribution, individual commitment and support to NHMRC. The award is given every two years.
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute - Professor North AC is Director of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the David Danks Professor of Child Health Research at the University of Melbourne. Professor North trained as a paediatric physician, neurologist and clinical geneticist and was awarded a doctorate for research in neurogenetics. Professor North completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Harvard Genetics Program. She is a translational scientist and internationally recognised for her research in neuromuscular disorders, cognitive deficits in neurofibromatosis, and the study of genes that influence athletic performance. In 2014, Professor North was appointed as a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science and in 2019; she was awarded a Companion (AC) of the Order of Australia in recognition of her eminent service to genomic medicine and medical research. Professor North was also a member of NHMRC's Council and Chair of its Research Committee.
2018 Biennial Award
NHMRC’s Ethics Award recognises outstanding Australians for their contributions to high ethical standards in health and medical research. Nominees are judged on the significance of their contribution supporting high ethical standards in Australia in health and/or health and medical research, including innovation in ethical policy formulation, leadership in the formulation of ethical standards and/or services above and beyond the normal requirement of Human Research Ethics Committee or Committee membership. The award is given every two years.
Macquarie University - After initially training in medicine and general practice, Professor Rogers undertook her PhD in medical ethics at Flinders University. An NHMRC Sidney Sax Fellowship supported her early research into the ethics of evidence-based medicine. In 2009, she moved from Flinders University to take up the position of Professor of Clinical Ethics at Macquarie University, where she was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship for research into the philosophical and ethical issues raised by over diagnosis. Professor Rogers has made major contributions in the analysis of and responses to ethical issues in evidence-based medicine, public health, organ donation, biomedical research, surgical innovation, and over diagnosis.
Consumer Engagement Award
2018 Biennial Award
The inaugural NHMRC Consumer Engagement recognises long-term contribution, individual commitments and support of consumers and community views in health and medical research. This award will be given every two years
Australian National University - Doctor Banfield is a mental health consumer researcher and Head of Lived Experience Research at the Australian National University Centre for Mental Health Research. She leads a high-quality program of health systems research for effective mental health services, focusing on the expertise that mental health consumers contribute to research and reform. Doctor Banfield and her team openly identify as mental health consumers in their research and dissemination activities, tackling stigma and challenging the researcher vs consumer dichotomy. Doctor Banfield has a strong national reputation in consumer engagement and has authored influential works that are shaping inclusive research and practice.
Science to Art Award
NHMRC’s Science to Art Award recognises outstanding examples of the art that has arisen from research funded by NHMRC.
The University of Sydney - Mr Gao is a neurologist from Shanghai and started his PhD at the Central Clinical School, the University of Sydney. Mr. Gao’s research is in the mechanisms of alpha-synuclein pathogenesis in Parkinson’s disease. He is particularly interested in visualizing pathologies in human neurons under the confocal microscopy, and has been awarded the ‘Top 100 winning images’ in 2018 Nikon Small World Competition. Mr. Gao hopes that the results of his project might provide potential therapeutic options for preventing alpha-synuclein accumulation in Parkinson’s disease.