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 Frances Kay-Lambkin

Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin is a nationally renowned mental health trailblazer who leads a global team of researchers, clinicians and industry partners in supporting patients who have concurrent mental health, alcohol and drug problems.

Very few researchers in the mental health sphere, anywhere in the world, have such impressive credentials and a track record of achievements.

Professor Kay Lambkin is currently the Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation, at the University of Newcastle, while also serving as a board director for Orygen – the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health – to represent a voice for young people with poor mental health.

She is the President of the Society for Mental Health Research, an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Director of Translation at the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, and Co-Director of the Mental Health Hub of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre in Brain and Mental Health.

Professor Kay-Lambkin has attracted over $15.6 million in funding, half of that in the past five years. She has led the way in trialling and developing digital-based psychological treatments that benefit large numbers of patients and contribute to a global shift in the treatment of comorbidity. As such, she is an exceptionally worthy winner of this year’s award.

This awarded is supported by the HMRI Community Donors.

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

As a member of the Hunter New England Population Health group, Associate Professor Wolfenden has attracted more than $22 million in grant income from highly competitive national and international schemes while authoring more than 300 journal manuscripts – 40 in this year alone.

He has forged an international reputation in implementation science, with his work including the Lancet Commission Report on Obesity, Undernutrition and Climate Change and three large and highly cited global reports in tobacco control published by the World Health Organization.

Among his health interventions are a menu planning program adopted by 2000 childcare services across Australia, and a sports club intervention adopted by no less than 7000 sporting clubs.

Luke’s director and mentor, Professor John Wiggers, notes that this level of excellence is a rare if not unique achievement in this region and possibly in this country for a mid-career researcher in Luke’s field.

This award is supported by the Sid Stephens Memorial.

HMRI Award for Early Career Research
HMRI Award for Early Career Research
Associate Professor Stephen Smith

Associate Professor Stephen Smith is a highly regarded colorectal surgeon who serves as Director of the Hunter Surgical Clinical Research Unit at John Hunter Hospital while maintaining an almost full clinical workload.

He has developed and led innovative and high-quality surgical projects in three broad areas – infection, pain, and delayed return of gastrointestinal function.

As an investigator on various projects under the Hunter Cancer Research Alliance umbrella, Associate Professor Smith has leveraged over $10 million in research funding. This year he was awarded his first NHMRC Project grant as Chief Investigator with a team from HMRI and John Hunter Hospital.

That’s not to mention the 30 papers he’s had published in peer-reviewed, international surgical journals.

His current research includes an investigation of the immune system and anaesthesia effects on long-term cancer outcomes, along with the role of medicinal cannabis in colorectal surgery and pain.

To quote one of his referees, Professor Smith is a “rare combination of surgeon, researcher, teacher and mentor – a fertile source of ideas and inspiration for those with whom he collaborates”.

This awarded is supported by The Eva & Tom Breuer Foundation and the Lions Club of Adamstown.