Our People

Michael Nilsson

Professor Michael Nilsson, MD PhD

Director, Hunter Medical Research Institute
Burges Professor of Medical Science

Professor Michael Nilsson, MD, PhD is an internationally well-established neuroscientist with two decades experience within the fields of astrocyte biology, brain plasticity and recovery after stroke.

In 2012, Professor Nilsson was appointed Director of Hunter Medical Research Institute and Burges Professor of Medical Science at the University of Newcastle. Previously Professor Nilsson was Director of Research, Development and Education at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden – northern Europe’s largest university hospital – where he was responsible for the strategic planning and support of clinical sciences.

His continued research involves studies of astrocyte functions in brain plasticity and repair after stroke. The role of enriched environment in plasticity and regeneration has also been a main focus and constitutes an important platform for ongoing studies. He has initiated, planned and established pioneering translational research programs that combine basic and clinical research in rehabilitation neuroscience involving studies on the effects of cardiovascular exercise, music and rhythm on cognition.

In addition to his research achievements he has a proven track record in team and relationship building, and managing innovation and change.

In November 2012, Professor Nilsson was appointed Conjoint Professor of Neurological Rehabilitation at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. While retaining his research network in Sweden, Australia and internationally he is now building a strong research platform within HMRI.



Sally-CastleMs Sally Castle

Associate Director Marketing and Development

Sally’s specialty is taking a leadership role in organisations undergoing rapid growth, bringing a wealth of experience in fundraising, finance, marketing and operational efficiency to the table. Previously she served as Marketing Director for the profit-for-purpose organisation Climate Friendly. Her health and medical research résumé includes successful stints as Marketing & Fundraising Manager for the Centenary Institute in Sydney, Events Manager for the National Heart Foundation and Publicity & Entertainment Coordinator for the MS Society of NSW.



Shanthi_headMs Shanthi Herd

Strategic Projects

Shanthi has a key focus on HMRI’s operational and commercial sustainability, overseeing functions including finances, IT, facilities, company secretary and corporate administration. She brings to the role strong commercial acumen and a legal background from a career that spans both private and public sectors. Prior to joining HMRI, Shanthi served as Commercial Manager for the Hunter Valley Coal Chain, providing strategic leadership in a fast-paced and complex work environment with multiple stakeholders. She has was previously the Regional Executive Officer for the NSW Department of Family & Community Services and has held various policy roles, including with Newcastle Port Corporation and the NSW Office for Science and Medical Research. Driven by a passion for medical research and the not-for-profit sector, Shanthi is now working to build and maintain enduring relationships with all key HMRI stakeholders.

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    Thu 02

    Medical Research Week Public Seminar

    June 2 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm