The Hunter’s researchers and their community supporters gathered with representatives from Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), the University of Newcastle, and HNE Local Health District to virtually celebrate and honour medical research excellence at the annual HMRI Awards Night – HMRI 2020 - on Thursday (November 12) night.
The three major research awards went to Distinguished Laureate Professor Nick Talley AC, Associate Professor Tracy Burrows, and Associate Professor Andrew Gardner.
HMRI director, Professor Tom Walley, said HMRI’s 1600 strong research community were all playing their part in translating world-class research to make health services better and provide life-saving treatments to patients.
He said they are helping to position HMRI as a global leader in health and medical research.
Professor Walley paid tribute to HMRI’s donors, ambassadors and auspice groups – Borne HMRI, Hunter Children’s Research Foundation and Hunter Transplant Foundation. The ceremony concluded with a collection of heartfelt, recorded thank you messages from HMRI researchers recognising the support they receive from the community to continue their life-changing work.
While recognising community pain and suffering, he reflected on the opportunities that issues such as the bushfires and COVID-19 brought to HMRI and the community.
“COVID-19 has brought our health and medical research capability into the spotlight,” Professor Walley said.
“Our research community navigated the bushfires and the pandemic with a calmness and ‘can do’ attitude to contribute to understanding the issues and supporting community recovery,” he said.
“From a hand sanitiser production facility for John Hunter Hospital, to setting up the national multi-centre ASCOT trial for patients hospitalised with COVID-19, to the development of a preventative nasal spray, and a technically advanced swab for picking up the COVID virus which is now in trials at Imperial College London, HMRI is playing an important role in tackling the global problem of COVID-19.”
The awards ceremony was streamed live via Zoom this year.
HMRI 2020 – Research Awards
Research Excellence Award – Distinguished Laureate Professor Nick Talley AC
University of Newcastle Distinguished Laureate Professor Tally, a gastroenterologist with a special interest in inflammation and infection, is considered an international authority in the field.
One of the chief investigators and Director of the NHMRC-funded Centre for Research Excellence in Digestive Health, his research covers inflammation in the gut, the role of the gut micro-organisms and the gut-brain axis. Distinguished Laureate Professor Talley is a senior staff specialist at John Hunter Hospital and the current editor-in-chief of the Medical Journal of Australia.
Mid Career Research Award - Associate Professor Tracy Burrows
The Award recognises an outstanding researcher who is within 15 years of completing their PhD.
Associate Professor Burrows is an advanced accredited practising dietitian and senior lecturer at the University of Newcastle.
She has attracted more than $6 million in research funding for her program of research on obesity in children and adults, including food addiction and obesity management. Her expertise has seen her invited to work internationally, including with organisations in the UK and USA.
A mentor to other researchers, Associate Professor Burrows is co-chair of HMRI’s Ignite Committee which supports the learning, development and mentoring of early and mid career researchers.
Early Career Research Award – Associate Professor Andrew Gardner
The Award recognises an outstanding researcher who is within five years of completing their PhD.
Associate Professor Gardner is an NHMRC early career fellow at the University of Newcastle and a Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD) honorary clinical research fellow. A clinical neuropsychologist, he is co-director of HNELHD’s Sports Concussion Clinic, a member of HMRI’s Priority Research Centre for Stroke and Brain Injury and works with both the Australian Rugby Union and NRL in sports concussion.
He has completed three fellowships at Harvard University and secured more than $5 million in research funding and is the principal investigator leading one of the world’s largest research programs examining the brain health of retired professional collision sport athletes.
* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.