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 Jennifer Martin

Professor Jennifer Martin is a dual trained clinical pharmacologist and practising general physician. She has studied politics and health economics at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and has used this experience to serve on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, the Economic Subcommittee of the PBAC and other Government and Statewide committees examining appropriate allocation, regulation, safety and efficacy in pharmaceuticals.

Her PhD (Monash) examined innate immunity in Type 2 diabetes and subsequent postdoctoral work at the Walter and Eliza Hall focussed on the function of macrophages with high fat diet. Her recent research is in the area of clinical development of both novel and old drugs for a variety of diseases and has developed a collaboration with Leiden University using clinical pharmacological methods generally to improve dosing, with EKUT (Germany) in the combined role of therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) and pharmacogenetics to individualise choice and dose of chemotherapy, and with the National Institutes of Health in identifying and managing synthetic drugs of abuse.

Professor Martin’s current PhD students are researching cannabinoid therapies, targeted cancer therapies, dosing in neonates and therapeutic drug monitoring in clinical care including with antimicrobial therapies.

Professor Martin is currently a member of the RACP Policy and Advocacy Committee, the Council of the Australasian Society for Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and a member of the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee of PHARMAC, the sole purchaser for pharmaceuticals in New Zealand.

HMRI Director's Award for Mid-Career Research
HMRI Director's Award for Mid-Career Research
Professor Lisa Wood

Professor Lisa Wood has a research focus on nutritional modulation of inflammatory airways diseases, such asthma. There is great consumer interest in dietary approaches to asthma management, however, there has been a paucity of good quality scientific evidence to formulate definitive advice. Professor Wood’s research addresses this need, and has identified a role for antioxidants, fatty acids, fibre and obesity in modifying inflammation in asthma.

A key example of her significant impact is demonstration that saturated fatty acids worsen airway inflammation and reduce bronchodilator effectiveness in asthma, which led to 2 publications in the highest impact clinical immunology journal. Further evidence of Professor Wood’s contribution to knowledge is the inclusion of five of her publications in the 2014 Australian Asthma Handbook.

While Professor Wood’s research is based on excellent and rigorous science, there is clear translational relevance and a focus on improving health outcomes for patients. The fresh perspectives she places on patient-focused research, together with her skills, energy and creativity has enabled Professor Wood to develop an Internationally respected reputation in the Respiratory community.

With over 130 peer-reviewed manuscripts, with 62 as first or last author, Professor Wood publishes in the highest quality journals related to her field. She has been awarded over $4.6 million in research funding, and is CI-A on over 80 percent of these grants. She holds both nationally-competitive grant income from the NHMRC and industry funding.

Professor Wood contributes to the HMRI activities by presenting to HMRI board, speakers groups, Open Days and community events. She also established the Nutrition Research Programme in the PRC for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases and VIVA programme HMRI, driving the national research effort in nutrition and respiratory disease.

HMRI Award for Early Career Research
HMRI Award for Early Career Research
Dr Serene Yoong

Dr Yoong is a behavioural scientist and experienced dietitian with expertise in practice-based translational research. In her relatively short research career she has developed an outstanding research track record and has established a national and international reputation as an expert implementation scientist in the field of non-communicable disease prevention. The quality and impact of her work has been acknowledged via the receipt of a prestigious NSW Tall Poppy Award in 2018, a highly competitive ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) fellowship in 2017 and numerous grants from NHMRC.

She is committed to conducting research that can be rapidly translated to benefit the community. This requires significant investment in engaging international, national and local policy makers, practitioners and the community to develop programs that meet their needs and can be rapidly deployed to improve health. Internationally, she has served as a visiting fellow to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and produced evidence-syntheses that can be expected to have had an impact on human health globally. This has included leading the publication of an WHO evidence-brief outlining the detrimental impact of tobacco use on peri-surgical outcomes she completed as a WHO visiting Fellow, and the first WHO report internationally to identify an association between e-cigarette and tobacco use that Serene led as a WHO consultant.

Dr Yoong developed an online menu-planning program as part of her Heart Foundation fellowship to improve the provision of healthier foods in childcare centres. This program is the first of its kind internationally, and was designed to empower childcare cooks to provide healthier foods by removing the complexity of interpreting and applying nutrition guidelines. Evaluation of the program in a NHMRC-funded randomised controlled trial found it to be effective in improving child dietary intake. The commonwealth government subsequently funded this program for national roll-out. Since being made available in March 2018, over 1800 childcare services provided healthier food to over 200,000 children across Australia have accessed this program.