HMRI honours the Hunter's leading health and medical researchers each year through the HMRI Research Awards.

The HMRI Award for Research Excellence is HMRI’s premier award and recognises the achievements of an outstanding senior researcher who has made a sustained contribution to research in the Hunter.

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.

The HMRI Award for Early Career Research supports and raises awareness of the work of the Hunter's most talented early career researchers, at a critical time in their career.

HMRI Award For Research Excellence
HMRI Award For Research Excellence

Professor Breakspear is the Group Leader of the Systems Neuroscience Group at HMRI. Professor Breakspear is a key driver at HMRI’s Imaging Centre and is currently chief investigator on several significant studies into dementia. Professor Breakspear’s use of advanced neuroimaging techniques has contributed to the better understanding of a range of conditions from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, to Parkinson’s disease and dementia. He has published over 230 journal articles and is Editor-in-Chief of the international neuroimaging journal, NeuroImage.

HMRI Director's Award for Mid-Career Research
HMRI Award for Mid-Career Research
Vanessa McDonald

Professor Vanessa McDonald


Professor McDonald is a research leader in HMRI's VIVA Program, co-leader of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Severe Asthma, and a practicing academic clinician in the Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at John Hunter Hospital.
Her current research is focused on developing a new management program for severe respiratory conditions known as Treatable Traits.
This new treatment paradigm aims to personalise medicine to individuals to achieve improved patient outcomes.

HMRI Award for Early Career Research
HMRI Award for Early Career Research
Dr Nicole Nathan | HMRI Public Health Program

Dr Nathan is 4.5 years post PhD and has more than 15 years’ experience as a health promotion manager with Hunter New England Population Health, where her primary role is to lead a multidisciplinary team to deliver childhood obesity prevention programs to the community.
Dr Nathan’s multi-award winning work on childhood obesity prevention programs has now been rolled out to over 600,000 students across NSW. Her work has led to children in the Hunter region having a lower incidence of obesity than the rest of the Australian population.