The HMRI Award for Research Excellence is HMRI’s premier award and recognises the achievements of an outstanding researcher who has made a sustained contribution to research in the Hunter.
Recipients have contributed to enhancing the research environment in the Hunter Region through team building, mentorship, establishment of major research initiatives or research capacity.
This awarded is supported by the HMRI Community Donors.
Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin is a nationally renowned mental health trailblazer who leads a global team of researchers, clinicians and industry partners in supporting patients who have concurrent mental health, alcohol and drug problems.
Very few researchers in the mental health sphere, anywhere in the world, have such impressive credentials and a track record of achievements.
Professor Kay Lambkin is currently the Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation, at the University of Newcastle, while also serving as a board director for Orygen – the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health – to represent a voice for young people with poor mental health.
She is the President of the Society for Mental Health Research, an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Director of Translation at the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, and Co-Director of the Mental Health Hub of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre in Brain and Mental Health.
Professor Kay-Lambkin has attracted over $15.6 million in funding, half of that in the past five years. She has led the way in trialling and developing digital-based psychological treatments that benefit large numbers of patients and contribute to a global shift in the treatment of comorbidity. As such, she is an exceptionally worthy winner of this year’s award.
While HMRI has a strong history of recognising the achievements of the region’s senior and early career researchers, outgoing HMRI Director Professor Michael Nilsson recognised a gap in recognition for mid-career researchers – those within 15 years since completing a PhD.
The HMRI Director’s Award for Mid-Career Research recognises and rewards the dedication and achievements of one of the Hunter’s most gifted mid-career researchers.
This award is supported by the Sid Stephens Memorial.
Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden
As a member of the Hunter New England Population Health group, Assoc Professor Wolfenden has attracted more than $22 million in grant income from highly competitive national and international schemes while authoring more than 300 journal manuscripts – 40 in this year alone.
He has forged an international reputation in implementation science, with his work including the Lancet Commission Report on Obesity, Undernutrition and Climate Change and three large and highly cited global reports in tobacco control published by the World Health Organization.
Among his health interventions are a menu planning program adopted by 2000 childcare services across Australia, and a sports club intervention adopted by no less than 7000 sporting clubs.
Luke’s director and mentor, Professor John Wiggers, notes that this level of excellence is a rare if not unique achievement in this region and possibly in this country for a mid-career researcher in Luke’s field.
Providing funds for early career researchers – those within five years since completing their PhD – to help retain the best research talent in the Hunter.
The HMRI Award for Early Career Medical Research supports professional development, raise awareness and acknowledge the work of talented early career researchers at a critical time in their career.
This awarded is supported by The Eva & Tom Breuer Foundation and the Lions Club of Adamstown.
Conjoint Associate Professor Stephen Smith
Associate Professor Stephen Smith is a highly regarded colorectal surgeon who serves as Director of the Hunter Surgical Clinical Research Unit at John Hunter Hospital while maintaining an almost full clinical workload.
He has developed and led innovative and high-quality surgical projects in three broad areas – infection, pain, and delayed return of gastrointestinal function.
As an investigator on various projects under the Hunter Cancer Research Alliance umbrella, Associate Professor Smith has leveraged over $10 million in research funding. This year he was awarded his first NHMRC Project grant as Chief Investigator with a team from HMRI and John Hunter Hospital.
That’s not to mention the 30 papers he’s had published in peer-reviewed, international surgical journals.
His current research includes an investigation of the immune system and anaesthesia effects on long-term cancer outcomes, along with the role of medicinal cannabis in colorectal surgery and pain.
To quote one of his referees, Professor Smith is a “rare combination of surgeon, researcher, teacher and mentor – a fertile source of ideas and inspiration for those with whom he collaborates”.
This fellowship was generously funded by an anonymous donor.
Awarded to Dr Heidi Janssen
Since 2013 the Mark Hughes Foundation have single-handedly changed the face of brain cancer research not only at HMRI but across the country. HMRI acknowledges their previous project funding awarded earlier this year and announce a new round of successful Innovation Grants funded by the NRL Beanie for Brain Cancer Round and Beanie for Brain Cancer campaign.
Awarded to Dr Kimberly Kaufman from Chris O’Brien Lifehouse | A new blood test to monitor glioblastoma patients and detect tumour progression.
Awarded to Dr Dannielle Upton from the University of New South Wales | Developing new treatments for childhood brain cancer.
Awarded to Dr Haibo Jiang from the University of Western Australia | Development of a novel PET tracer for glioblastoma imaging.
Awarded to Dr Mike Fay from the University of Newcastle | The development and clinical translation of blood-based diagnostics for brain cancer.
Awarded to Associate Professor Paul Tooney from the University of Newcastle | Will DNA repair inhibitors improve survival of patients with brain cancer?
Awarded to Dr Kelly McKelvey from the University of NSW | Limos; killing brain cancer from within.
Awarded to Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin from the University of Newcastle | Supporting families with a loved one diagnosed with Brain Cancer.
Awarded to Dr Eric Hau from the University of Sydney | Targeting hypoxia and mitochondrial metabolism as an approach of radiosensitisation for diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG).
Anne Greaves, herself a former scientist with Edgell, has long supported young researchers.
Awarded to Ryan Drew | Impact of an online weight loss program to increase physical activity in men with depression.
Awarded to Sarah Perkes | Developing a mobile health app with Indigenous women for mothers and babies.
HMRI Brain & Mental Health Project Grant
Supported by Albert Dumbrell.
Awarded to Dr Lauren Harms | Improving drug discovery in Schizophrenia.
HMRI Fatigue Project Grant
Supported by The Estate of the late Stephen James Fairfax.
Awarded to Dr Vicki Maltby | Can mindfulness or exercise-based approaches reduce fatigue in multiple sclerosis patients?
HMRI Stroke Project Grant
Supported by the Estate of the late Joy Heather Granger.
Awarded to Dr Carlos Garcia Esperon | Blood pressure and blood viscosity in ischaemic stroke.
Keith Tulloch Wine Project Grant
Keith and Amanda Tulloch, through their Keith Tulloch Vinum Cellarium Wine Dinners, have been invaluable supporters of HMRI since 2006. Their funds have supported research in the areas of asthma, chronic stress, stroke, postnatal depression, prostate cancer and brain tumours.
Awarded to Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin | Preventing Suicide in Australian Men.
HMRI Multiple Myeloma Equipment Grant
Supported by the Estate of the late Dorothy Ruth Frost.
Awarded to Dr Anoop Enjeti | Exploring the toxicity profile of two classes of drug, aiming to assess their suitability for treating patients at relapse and as an ongoing therapy.
HMRI Brain Cancer Project Grant
Supported by an Anonymous HMRI Donor.
Awarded to Dr Moira Graves | Do white blood cells from the bone marrow play a role in regrowth of glioblastoma and can blocking their movement into the brain improve treatment?
HMRI Cancer Project Grant
Supported by the Estate of the late Betty Graham in member of her late husband and HMRI donor Eddie de Marco.
Awarded to Dr Matt Dun | Overcoming treatment resistance in acute myeloid leukaemia - a novel therapeutic strategy for patients with poor prognosis.
HMRI Bowel Cancer Project Grant
Supported by the annual Babes on the Balcony fundraising event run by Jade Tolar and Tanya Murphy.
Awarded to Dr Joel Petit | Multicentre colorectal cancer genetic biomarker discovery project.
HMRI Prostate Cancer Project Grant
Supported by Stroud Rodeo.
Awarded to Dr Brayden March | A new diagnostic test for prostate cancer.
Bob and Terry Kennedy Infertility Project Grant
Bob Kennedy served as HMRI Chair from 2007 to 2013, and he and Terry have continued their close association through a project grant in Pregnancy & Reproduction.
Awarded to Dr Tessa Lord | Novel strategies to reverse chemotherapy-induced infertility in male childhood cancer survivors.
HMRI Heart Disease Project Grant
Supported by the Estate of the late Alan Edward Thompson.
Awarded to Associate Professor Nicholas Collins | Function of blood vessels in patients with congenital heart disease.
HMRI Diabetes Type 1 Project Grant
Supported by HMRI Donors.
Awarded to Dr Prudence Lopez | DIFFICLT study: Dosing Insulin for Food in Closed Loop Therapy.
First National Newcastle City Health & Medical Research Project Grant
Passionate Novocastrians and supporters of HMRI, George and Rose Rafty have a long history of supporting the health and wellbeing of our community.
Awarded to Dr Nicholas Riley | Investigating the impact of cognitively demanding physical activity breaks on adolescents’ cognition, brain structure and function.
Cameron Family Health & Medical Research Project Grant
Supported by The Cameron Family. The Camerons are long-term supporters of HMRI and have supported a wide range of health and medical projects over the years.
Awarded to Conjoint Associate Professor Chris Grainge | A world-first cell-based model to study the causes and effects of bronchiectasis, the permanent widening of human airways.
Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation Early Career Research Project Grants
Supported by the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation.
Awarded to Dr Rebecca Wyse | Disseminating an efficacious healthy eating intervention to primary schools across the Hunter New England region.
Awarded to Dr Narelle Eather | EMU (Education, Movement and Understanding): A community-based Indigenous games program targeting health and well-being, literacy and cultural appreciation in children and their families.
Awarded to Dr Kristen McCarter | StartSMART: Engaging young people in a SMART recovery program for substance use.
Lake Macquarie Garden Club Healthy Ageing Project Grant
Since 2017 the Open Gardens and Arts Trail has raised funds through opening beautiful gardens in Lake Macquarie to the public.
Awarded to Dr Diane Rebourcet | Investigating the regulation of androgen production to support healthy male ageing across the life course.
HMRI is fortunate to receive extraordinary support from several individuals, trusts, foundations and businesses over many years and multiple projects. HMRI gratefully recognises the ongoing generosity of its Major Benefactors.
Gastronomic Lunch of the Year
Neil and Donna Slater, from Scratchleys on the Wharf, organise a major annual fundraising effort - the Gastronomic Lunch of the Year.
Greater Charitable Foundation
Greater Bank is an inaugural donor and, along with the Greater Charitable Foundation, has provided support for Stroke Research.
Tony and Karen Haggarty supported the HMRI Building Capital Campaign in 2011 and have funded stillbirth research and fellowships.
Jennie Thomas AM
HMRI Life Governor Jennie Thomas AM invests in the career development of young people, helping to shape who they are and what they do.
Kiriwina Investment Company
Kiriwina has supported HMRI since 2000, including a grant this year to Matt Dun for brain cancer research.
Vanessa McGuigan Memorial
Jointly funding a 10-year Fellowship dedicated to ovarian cancer research.
The nib foundation first supported HMRI in 2010 and maintains its connection with Professor Clare Collins and her Nutrition Connect program.
Port Waratah Coal Services
PWCS has partnered with HMRI on two multi-year projects, the second of which is the Dads and Daughters Exercising and Empowered (DADEE) study.
Enthusiastic supporters of asthma and nutritional research since 2010.
Thyne Reid Foundation
Since 2001, the Thyne Reid Foundation has continued to support work in Mothers and Babies led by Laureate Professor Roger Smith AM.
Mark Hughes Foundation (MHF)
Mark and Kirralee Hughes founded the Mark Hughes Foundation in 2014 to raise funds for brain cancer research, to create awareness and support brain cancer patients and their families.
Margaret Crawley Bequest
Margaret (Peggy) Crawley’s generous bequest of $3.6 million is HMRI’s largest bequest to date. These funds will allow the HMRI Director, in collaboration with our Health Partners, to award HMRI’s second Women in Medical Research Fellowship in a clinical research priority. Funds from Peggy’s estate will also support the HMRI Endowment Fund to support the long-term success of HMRI.
Anonymous Family Bequest
A local Hunter family who wish to remain anonymous, selected HMRI as the recipient of their family member’s significant bequest. This endowed bequest provides a meaningful way to make a difference that will last forever.
Supporting the education of paramedics to increase competency and confidence in rare and complex cases to provide high-quality care, especially in rural and regional settings.
HMRI receives and allocates support for specific research programs throughout the year. This research has already commenced, and we acknowledge this support.
HMRI | Advanced out-of-hospital care.
Sandi Rose Foundation
Dr Matt Dun | New horizons. Therapeutic applications for medicinal cannabis in the treatment of de novo diffuse high-grade gliomas.
Professor Jennifer Martin | Early phase high throughput studies of cannabinoids using new understandings of glioblastoma biology, radiobiology and pharmacology.
Professor Craig Pennell | New1000 Optimising health in children for a healthy life.
Greater Charitable Foundation
Dr Andrew Bivard | A new treatment to help recover from stroke, including fatigue and quality of life.
The Rainbow Foundation
Professor Clare Collins | Nutrition and dietetics.
Professor Phil Hansbro | Investigating the role of microbiomes in COPD.
Port Waratah Coal Service
Professor Philip Morgan | Embedding the DADEE Program in local communities: Sustainability through innovative partnerships.
Professor Philip Morgan | DADEE Sport Equipment Grant.
Thyne Reid Foundation
Laureate Professor Roger Smith AM | Establishing a nanoparticle development facility at HMRI.
Gastronomic Lunch of the Year
Dr Jordan Smith | Physical activity, fitness and resilience to stress during the final years of schooling.
The Dorothy Jean Cunningham Endometrial Cancer Research Bequest
Associate Professor Pradeep Tanwar | Understanding the molecular signals between fat cells and endometrial cancer.
Kiriwina Investment Company
Dr Malcolm Starkey | Understanding cystinuria & discovery of new treatment options.
Associate Professor Estelle Sontag and Dr Jean-Marie Sontag | Development of new therapeutic interventions for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Dr Matt Dun | Detection and monitoring of disease progression in high grade brain cancer.
Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation
Dr Adam Collison | The immunological profile of the early development of Asthma.
Rix’s Creek Pty Ltd
Professor Zsolt Balogh and Dr Gabrielle Briggs | Research into advancing brain injury treatment.
Dr Myles Young | SHED-IT Recharge: Development and evaluation of a gender-tailored program designed to improve men's physical and mental health.
Estate of the late RT Hall
Professor Andrew Boyle | Understanding scar tissue in the heart.
Professor Andrew Boyle | Fibulin-3 and Cardiac Fibrosis.
The Schwartz Foundation
Professor Christopher Levi | Stroke Finder pilot study.
Associate Professor Brett Graham | Supporting optogenetic research to advance chronic back pain treatments.
Laureate Professor Roger AM & Anne Smith
Professor Deborah Loxton | World-wide wellness of mothers and babies.
Lions Australia Diabetes Foundation
Dr Carmel Smart | Optimising postprandial glycaemia in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes using closed loop insulin delivery.
HMRI Children’s Cancer Grant supported by Hunter District Hunting Club, Rotary Club of Newcastle and David & Delmae Heise
Dr Matt Dun | Moving safe and well-tolerated therapies from the bench to the clinic for the treatment of childhood brain cancer.
Coal Services Health & Safety Trust
Dr Christopher Williams | Reducing the impact of back pain in miners.
Oxfords Ladies Lunch against Ovarian Cancer
Associate Professor Nikola Bowden | Ovarian Cancer research.
Dr Matt Dun | Developing new treatments for resistance in acute myeloid leukaemia.
Rotary Club of Nelson Bay
Associate Professor Kelvin Kong | Helping to close the gap for Indigenous and rural children through early intervention in ear health.
McDonald Jones Charitable Foundation
Professor Vanessa McDonald | Patient Reported Outcome Measure in Severe Asthma (PROMISe): Measuring severe asthma’s impact on health status.
Sarah Halvedene Foundation
Dr Patrick Oakley | Helping to close the gap in Indigenous health by determining the prevalence of iodine deficiency and related thyroid and goitre health problems.
Associate Professor Nikola Bowden | Development of a blood test to detect ovarian cancer.
Garry and Winifred Warner
Dr Lucy Murtha | Characterising the role of fibulin-3 in cardiac fibrosis.
Conjoint Professor Jim Denham | RADAR Prostate Cancer Trial.
The Cameron Family
Associate Professor Simon Keely | The microbiome of surgical site infections.
Dr Matt Dun | Preclinical testing of new drugs for DIPG.
Millennium Pty Ltd and Alistair Bowman
Laureate Professor Roger Smith AM | Pregnancy and Reproduction.
Valerie & John Ryan Legacy
Associate Professor Nikola Bowden | Ovarian Cancer.
Lions Club Zone 8, District 201N3 & Australian Lions Foundation
Associate Professor Sally McFadden | Characterisation of the myopia sensing cells in the eye.
Kath & Mort Elliot
Professor Anthony Quail | The effects of midazolam on respiratory and cardiovascular control mechanisms during severe arterial hypoxia.
Dr Suku Thambar | Double-blind placebo controlled trial on direct endomyocardial injection of autologous bone marrow cells for enhancement of neovascularisation in patients with ischaemic heart failure.
Professor Peter Wark | Pathogenesis of COPD at the cellular and molecular levels.
Vanessa McGuigan Memorial
Associate Professor Nikola Bowden | Vanessa McGuigan HMRI Research Fellowship in Ovarian Cancer supported by the McGuigan Family.
Dr Kaushik Maiti | Haggarty Foundation HMRI Research Fellowship in Stillbirth.
Dr Kirsten Coupland | HMRI Early Career Research Fellowship in Stroke.
MM Sawyer Estate
Ms Georgia Carroll | Mary Sawyer Post-Graduate Scholarship in Cancer Research.
Jenny Thomas AM
Dr Ryan Duchatel | Travel Grant: Building international collaborations for DIPG research.
Dr Jenna Hollis | Travel Grant: Implementation trial to care for multiple health risk behaviours in pregnancy - Health Conversation Skills Training.
Ms Kathryn Reilly | Travel Grant: International Society of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity Conference.