Researcher trio vying for Alumni honour

Sep 7 2016

Jamie Flynn, Andrew Gardner, Malcolm Starkey

Three early-career HMRI researchers are among the select field of 2016 Alumni Award nominees announced by the University of Newcastle (UON).

Dr Jamie Flynn and Dr Andrew Gardner are nominated for the Beryl Nashar Young Researcher Award.

Dr Flynn is the project leader for a team who converged two ground-breaking technologies from biological sciences and optical physics into one world-class microscope project called the CLARITY.

Where commercial versions cost up to $1 million, the team spent just $70,000 on parts and learnt how to assemble them from internet blueprints and tutorials. Now based at the HMRI Building as a communal facility for researchers, the CLARITY scope has allowed a fundamental shift in the way scientists view biological systems in three-dimension and high resolution.

Dr Andrew Gardner, a clinical neuropsychologist with Hunter New England Health, ranks in the top 2 per cent of concussion researchers worldwide according to Expertscape. His research explores post-injury neurological changes and the reasons why some at-risk athletes in the football codes develop dementia later in life.

In the Young Alumni Award category, which recognises outstanding achievements and contributions by a young graduate, respiratory researcher Dr Malcolm Starkey is recognised for his ongoing studies into how challenges in a person’s early life can impair the development of a healthy immune system and lead to chronic diseases such as asthma, emphysema and diabetes.

A member of HMRI’s VIVA (Viruses, Infections/Immunity, Vaccines and Asthma) Program, Dr Starkey has previously won a prestigious Klosterfrau Research Grant plus an international travel grant from the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.

The first UON Alumni Award was presented 41 years ago, with the inaugural Newton-John award in 1975 presented to Allan Morris, and a strong field of innovative and change-making UON alumni has followed him over the decades. The gala dinner is on 21 October 2016.