Reflecting the Board’s sentiments, Chairman Kyle Loades praised Professor Nilsson for overseeing sustained growth during his time at the HMRI helm while astutely positioning the Institute as a world-class entity in translational research.
HMRI is now the second largest independent medical research institute in NSW, providing funding, facilities, equipment and research support to over 1600 researchers, research students and support staff working across several campuses.
Annual income has increased by 159% –$7.1 million in 2011 to $18.4 million today.
“In 2012 the Board conducted a world-wide search for a leader with global vision and entrepreneurial acumen, and they found the right candidate,” Mr Loades said. “HMRI’s revenue, research capacity and reputation have all increased greatly under Michael’s tenure despite a challenging funding landscape.
“We have evolved from a virtual institute to one with a substantial footprint across multiple disciplines, strongly engaged with State and Federal governments, philanthropy groups and industry partners.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and we are looking forward to working more with Michael as we continue to grow the Institute and capitalise on the strategic foundations laid in the areas of innovation, translation and collaboration.”
Professor Nilsson previously served as Director of Research and Development at Sweden’s Sahlgrenska University Hospital. He remains a Conjoint Professor of Neurorehabilitation and Translational Stroke Research at the University of Gothenburg, Honorary Professor of The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and Adjunct Professor at La Trobe University.
Since arriving in the Hunter he has forged stronger community links, enhancing HMRI’s visibility and connectivity within the region. An example is the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with HunterNet in 2015 to promote innovation and commercialisation.
Research infrastructure has also expanded considerably, most notably in 2014 with the construction of the $4.5-million HMRI Imaging Centre housing the southern hemisphere’s most advanced MRI scanner.
Professor Nilsson says it has taken a team effort from HMRI’s corporate staff and research leaders from Hunter New England Health and the University of Newcastle to achieve the success.
“From our executive, fundraising and marketing staff, financial team, facilities staff, IT, health economist and statisticians, right through to our stakeholders, there has been a spirit of cooperation that’s almost unique to Newcastle,” Professor Nilsson said.
“It creates a culture where you support and celebrate new revenue and success. It also encourages an information flow between scientists and clinicians that paves the way for new therapies and devices to be developed efficiently and affordably. In this regard we’re very much on the same page as the Federal Government and its new systematic approach to science and innovation policy.”