In the history of HMRI there have been people who have demonstrated exceptional service to the organisation, giving over and above the normal expectations to HMRI.

Awarding of Exceptional Service recognises exceptional and sustained contributions by an individual towards important aspect of HMRI’s activities. The recipients come from a variety of backgrounds – research, academia, corporate, health service management, fundraising, philanthropy… it is this very combination of many talents and perspectives that makes HMRI such a successful organisation.

The Exceptional Service recipients have all contributed greatly in establishing HMRI as a respected, valued and competitive health and medical research institute.

Mr Richard Anicich
Mr Richard Anicich

A member of the HMRI Foundation from 1998 to April 2013, Mr Anicich was instrumental in attracting new donors to HMRI, including the long-term association with the Sparke Helmore / NBN Triathlon. He tirelessly championed HMRI to the Hunter’s corporate community, and served as Chair of the Foundation’s Strategic Funding Committee for five years.

The Late Mrs Karen Brown
The Late Mrs Karen Brown

HMRI Exceptional Service was presented posthumously in honour of HMRI’s former Development Manager, who passed away in February 2013 from cancer. Mrs Brown greatly increased the funding base, with her own experience with illness affording an appreciation of the inherent value of medical research. She continued to work at HMRI through the later stages of her illness.

Professor Michael Calford
Professor Michael Calford

An outstanding researcher and administrator, Professor Calford joined the HMRI Board in June 2006 following his appointment as Pro Vice-Chancellor to the Faculty of Health. His contribution to the development of the HMRI Building was also notable, helping to secure the final tranche of funding and serving on the HMRI Building Committee.

Emeritus Professor Maree Gleeson OAM
Emeritus Professor Maree Gleeson OAM

Emeritus Professor Gleeson served as HMRI Director from November 2006 to December 2011, bringing a profound understanding of the health and medical research sector to the post. She led the planning and implementation process for the landmark HMRI Building project while actively mentoring researchers on the path from early to mid-career.

Mr Robert (Bob) Kennedy
Mr Robert (Bob) Kennedy

Few could have predicted the influence Mr Kennedy’s leadership would have over HMRI’s future when he was appointed Foundation Chair in 2006. One of his first tasks was to establish a Strategic Funding Committee that set ambitious fundraising targets to put HMRI on a solid growth trajectory. Then, as Chair of the HMRI Board from February 2007 to March 2013, Mr Kennedy strove towards securing HMRI Building funding.

Dr Geoffrey Leonard AM
Dr Geoffrey Leonard AM

Dr Leonard served as a Director of HMRI for 11 years from its incorporation in 1998 until 2009, and as Chairman from 1998 until 2003. He played a significant role in the early years of HMRI, advocating for the recognition of the HMRI model of a virtual institute at all levels of government. He was pivotal in the commissioning of the business plan that recommended the formation of a high profile research body to be established in the region.

Ms Libby Rodgers-McPhee
Ms Libby Rodgers-McPhee

Ms Rodgers-McPhee was HMRI’s first employee, establishing the entire fundraising program from scratch, developing the successful model for the HMRI Ball as well as establishing the Top 200, which became the backbone of HMRI’s corporate fundraising program.  She was the driving force behind the development of HMRI’s original branding and the recruitment of the HMRI Foundation.

Mr Richard Owens OAM
Mr Richard Owens OAM

Richard served HMRI as a Director from 16 August 2000 to 5 June 2009. He served as Chairman of the Board from February 2003 until February 2007. Richard’s leadership built upon the strong platform established by his predecessor. Richard recognised the need for a catalyst to take HMRI to a new level and spearheaded the HMRI external review in May 2006. This review marked a change for HMRI in how it saw itself and allowed HMRI to contemplate its growth and direction with a renewed sense of purpose.

Emeritus Professor John Rostas
Emeritus Professor John Rostas

As inaugural Director of HMRI Professor Rostas was able to bring together previously unconnected research groups from across the area health service and university, Professor Rostas consolidated research activity in the Hunter and strengthened the collaborative program based model of HMRI. His passion and vision was paramount in raising the profile of HMRI in the community, as well as garnering significant government recognition and support. 

Professor Nicholas Saunders AO
Professor Nicholas Saunders AO

Professor Saunders was appointed to the HMRI Board in October 2004 in his capacity as Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Newcastle, serving until his retirement from the university in October 2011. He lent support and guidance to the implementation of a strategic marketing plan, including the facilitation of new branding protocols between HMRI and its stakeholders.

Professor Roger Smith AM
Professor Roger Smith AM

Professor Smith Roger has provided outstanding research leadership in the Hunter. As well as being an internationally recognised researcher in his own right, he is one of the founding fathers of what we know today as HMRI. His passion for the establishment of a central and prominent group to support health and medical research led to the incorporation of the Hunter Medical Research Cooperative Limited in 1990.

Mr Jim Sullivan
Mr Jim Sullivan

Mr Sullivan was an original Board member of the Hunter Medical Research Cooperative, and served on the HMRI Board until 2005. As a news director, his mentoring ensured that HMRI developed a culture of proactive and constructive media relations that continues to serve it well.     Mr Sullivan’s commitment to helping HMRI promote and position itself in the wider community is reflected by the recognition and reputation HMRI celebrates today.

Mrs Jennie Thomas AM
Mrs Jennie Thomas AM

A philanthropist who leads with both her heart and her head, Mrs Thomas has been instrumental in the development of the research careers of many young, outstanding researchers across HMRI. Her emphasis on education, young people and the importance of dreams elevates her philanthropic support to another level

The Late Ms Sonia Walkom
Ms Sonia Walkom

As an inaugural member of the HMRI Foundation, Ms Walkom leveraged her extensive networks to increase the donor base and awareness of the institute. She also took an active involvement in the HMRI Ball, with continuous service on that committee since the first ball in 1999, until her passing from cancer in 2014.