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 Clare Collins

Through her burgeoning media profile and prolific publication record, Professor Clare Collins needs little introduction to anyone interested in nutritional health.

She completed her PhD and accepted a research academic position in 2000, while working clinically as a paediatric dietitian at John Hunter Children’s Hospital. Promotions to senior lecturer followed in 2004, associate professor in 2007 and professor in 2010.

Professor Collins remains a passionate trailblazer within her profession, serving as co-director of the UON’s Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition and Director of Research for the School of Health Sciences. In addition, Professor Collins is a Fellow and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA).

Her distinguished research record includes 295 journal articles – 190 in the past 5 years alone – and more than 300 conference abstracts. Further, she has mentored more than 20 dietitians to completion and currently supervises 16 Higher Degree Research candidates.

As CI, Professor Collins has received more than $20 million in grant support. Among these are two personal fellowships and five project grants from the NHMRC, plus a recent contribution of $1.7 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Professor Collins has a proven capacity to disseminate research findings, with more than 260,000 people completing her web-based Healthy Eating Quiz and a further 80 research projects purchasing her Australian Eating Survey assessment tool.

It is testament to Professor Collins’ commitment to improving nutritional knowledge and informing the development of evidence-based health policy.

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

With physical inactivity becoming a global pandemic, Professor David Lubans is on a mission to ensure that young people have the confidence and competence to be more active, more of the time.

As a theme-leader in the UON’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, he focuses on developing and disseminating innovative interventions for improved fitness in primary and secondary school settings.

Of note, Professor Lubans has been a Chief Investigator on projects directly benefitting more than 10,000 children and adolescents in Australia (particularly the Hunter Region), the UK, New Zealand, Brazil and Hong Kong.

Professor Lubans has more than 190 peer-reviewed journal publications. That he is first or senior author on over 60% (since 2012) demonstrates his writing skills. Few other researchers in the area of school-based physical activity interventions have both the quality and quantity of Professor Lubans publications at such an early career stage.

He has secured over $18 million in competitive research funding, including four NHMRC grants, while gaining an ARC Future Fellowship in 2014. One of three Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery grants went to the Active Teen Leaders Avoiding Screen-time (ATLAS) project – the first Australian study targeting obesity prevention in adolescent boys from low-income communities

Professor Lubans was Principal Investigator on the HMRI-funded Supporting Children’s Outcomes using Rewards, Exercise and Skills (SCORES) intervention, which is now being disseminated in 200 NSW primary schools. Another notable example is Burn 2 Learn, targeting senior school students (based on a HMRI-funded pilot study).

He provides mentorship for a large team, comprising four early career researchers, one post-doc, 12 PhD students and two research assistants at the University of Newcastle. He has 11 Research Higher Degree completions and four Honours completions. 

HMRI Award for Early Career Research
HMRI Award for Early Career Research
Associate Professor Gillian Gould

Associate Professor Gillian Gould attained her PhD in 2015 as an experienced GP and naturally gravitated to Indigenous health research.

Her passion and dedication was soon demonstrated by her collaborative and culturally inclusive approach to the complex area of smoking cessation during pregnancy, with a practical, applied focus on translation to the groups most affected.

Based at Calvary Mater Newcastle, Associate Professor Gould led a grass-roots, indepth qualitative research project in the Hunter and with Aboriginal Medical Services in Taree and Forster. From this, the renowned SISTAQUIT (formerly ICAN QUIT in Pregnancy) intervention was developed.

Associate Professor Gould reached out to pre-test and pilot the project in three States, demonstrating successful translation of her approach in other Indigenous communities. She is further supported by the Hunter Primary Health Network to extend her explorations in Tamworth and Moree.  

Over the past three years, she has attracted four prestigious fellowships totalling $1.46 million. SISTAQUIT was awarded $2.26 million by the NHMRC, adding to a research career tally of $6 million.

Through this time, Associate Professor Gould has sustained a high level of research output – 58 publications (56 as first or last author) including 30 peer-reviewed journal articles. Her leadership qualities are further evidenced by the establishment of international collaborations with the Mayo Clinic and University College London.

This remarkable career trajectory suggests that Associate Professor Gould has the potential to be one of the highest­achieving researchers, early career or otherwise, in her field.