This is the latest edition of the Menzies Brief - Vol 18, No. 6, 2015
President’s Report – thank you for a great year
Like most professionals I know, you are probably looking back at the year and considering all that has been achieved and planning for what’s ahead. Take time to acknowledge those achievements!
It has been a good year for the MMSA and the Menzies Foundation and I must acknowledge Dariel De Sousa for her fantastic leadership of the MMSA for the last two years. If not for her drive and commitment, we wouldn’t have made such good progress on a strategic plan for the alumni, the alumni section of the website, the platform for the legal sector alliance and more. Our task is to expand on these achievements and add more.
I have to say I was thrilled to be involved in such a wonderful day and night in Canberra for the Scholarship Awards, recognising the leadership of our scholars past and present. The participation of alumni members was such a highlight. It was also an opportunity for an extremely productive AGM; so thank you to everyone who attended. The minutes will be circulated very soon.
A story and photos about the Scholarship Awards at Government House and the Menzies Foundation Cocktail Reception are on the Foundation website with a selection of photos so please take a look. We wanted to bring you some of the more social, scholar-based pics so please enjoy the images below.
All the best for the festive season and see you back refreshed in 2016.
I’d like to thank the MMSA members for your endorsement as Secretary for 2016 and I look forward to working with you all to achieve some great things. I would like to endorse Josie’s comments about Dariel and about Canberra. We are all looking forward to next year’s event already.
In terms of our work for 2016, it is great news to hear that several of our scholars have agreed to be part of the new MMSA Advisory Group, which will meet for the first time in February.
The aims and purpose of the Advisory Group will be further defined at the first meeting; however, primarily it is expected that the group will provide guidance to Josie and I, particularly on issues such as the structure and purpose of the MMSA, increasing and retaining scholar engagement, and on particular projects such as the mentoring scheme. They will be a sounding board for potential new initiatives and act as a ‘feeder’ group for scholars to progress into the role of Secretary and President of the MMSA, thereby also gaining Board experience with the Menzies Foundation.
Thank you to our fellow alumni who have put their hands up – Dr Nick Huntington, Roger Derrington, Dr Anne-Marie Hill, Dr Sheree Hurn, Oren Bigos, Kathryn Peterson and Dr Tina Souvlis.
Stay safe over the holidays and l look forward to hearing from you next year.
Dr Adrian McCallum MMSA Secretary/Treasurer
2016 Law and International Law Scholarships awarded
A well-timed stint working at the ASX while still a law student, has set new Menzies Scholar Emily Rumble on the path to leadership in regulating our financial system to protect Australian investors. Read more.
Emily was awarded the 2016 Menzies Scholarship in Law from a very strong field.
And Joel Gilbourd is the 2016 Sir Ninian Stephen Menzies Scholar in International Law.
Also a Sydney lawyer, Joel is currently on an overseas volunteer placement and will be the first Menzies Scholar to study at Georgetown University in Washington.
He chose Georgetown for its alignment with his desire to work with the World Bank and eventually in aid policy.
NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow to focus on bipolar research
Dr Alexis Whitton has been awarded the 2016 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellowship to improve the early detection of bipolar disorder.
Dr Whitton, from Sydney, is at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital in Boston, where she will commence her research project before heading back to Sydney’s Brain & Mind Institute to work with depressed young adults who are seeking treatment through the Headspace Youth Mental Health Program.
The last few months have been busy for several of our medical and allied health scholars with some great results as part of NHMRC grant funding and other significant investments in medical research:
Professor Robyn O’Hehir continues to take her peanut allergy research to the next level and has recently secured $4.85 million in additional funding towards identifying a vaccine. The vaccine would be a world first and news of the private investment via bio tech companies received significant media coverage.
Professor Paul Hodges, 1994 Menzies Allied Health Research Scholars, will lead an $8.8 million NHMRC program of research from 1 January, considering a raft of approaches to managing back pain and osteoarthritis to reduce the need for surgery or drug intervention.
Researcher with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Dr Misty Jenkins, has taken out the Tall Poppy Science Award for Victoria from the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, and was also granted the RD Wright Biomedical Career Development Fellowship by the NHMRC ($419,180), to continue her work investigating the mechanism and consequences of cytotoxic lymphocyte detachment, through the University of Melbourne.
Dr Jenkins, Prof O’Hehir and Prof Hodges were three of several Menzies Scholars in Medicine and Allied Health who were recipients of recently announced NHMRC grants. They included Professor Matthew Kiernan, Associate Professor Dr Daniel Siskind, Dr Zhichao Wu, Dr Daniel Worthley, Dr Sarah-Jane Dawson and Associate Professor John Pimanda. Congratulations to all of them and please see a bit more of the detail of their grants and awards in a story on the Menzies Foundation website.
2007 Menzies Scholar in Allied Health Research, Dr Sally Gainsbury, will continue her work investigating online risk taking after being awarded an Australian Research Council DECRA (Discovery Early Career Research Award valued at $369,000) at the University of Sydney.
In the media
Here’s the latest coverage of some of the Menzies Scholars:
Dr Sally Gainsbury was featured in an interview on gambling addiction on CNN International's Vital Signs program with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, highlighting Australians as the biggest gamblers in the world.
2015 Harvard Menzies Scholar, Matthew Tyler, continues to make a big impression at Harvard, this time publishing an article about tackling poverty and inequality using data visualisation.
The Northern Daily Leader reported on Liz Killen’s 2016 Engineering Scholarship. Liz told them her interest in STEM subjects was inspired by the science teachers at her Tamworth high school.
High profile Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Michigan, Justin Wolfers (a Harvard Menzies Scholar), went in to bat for female economists highlighting the lack of respect afforded them in their profession. If you’re on Twitter, @JustinWolfers is definitely worth following.
1983 Menzies Scholar in Law, Belinda Gibson, was also adding her voice to the call for more women in STEM to benefit the entire economy in The Australian (you may need a subscription to be able to view this article).
And our Directors have been getting in on the media act too… although we’re guessing one Simon Maddocks may have been happier not to make the front page!
Dr John Stocker AO, another of the Menzies Foundation Directors, was awarded the University of Melbourne’s highest honour, a Doctor of Medical Science, honoris causa for his contribution to Australian science and medical research.
Menzies Scholar and Deputy Chair of the Menzies Foundation, Prof Simon Maddocks, was front page on the infamous NT News when his property was under threat in the recent South Australian fires. Unfortunately some of his property was destroyed but the main house was saved when Simon activated the sprinkler system from his mobile phone! The story ran in publications around the world.
Director of Menzies School of Health Research, Dr Alan Cass, recently appeared on Australian Story talking about the relationship with Mr M Yunupingu from the band Yothu Yindi and how he used his illness with kidney disease as an opportunity to do good things like improve communication in Aboriginal health care.
Have we missed anything?
Thank you to the Menzies Scholars who are keeping us up to speed with the latest in their careers. Sometimes we can’t quite keep up with it all! But we always love to hear from you.
Please get in touch with Kate or AJ with any career developments – in particular if you have research results coming out, papers, awards, funding, promotions – so that we can help tell the story. If your organisation is distributing information about you and your work also let us know so we can share their content via social media. The most important thing here is timeliness – if it’s possible to let us know before hand, please do. We can be trusted with an embargo.
Internationally renowned population health expert and long-time researcher with the Menzies Institute of Medical Research, Professor Alison Venn, has been appointed as its new Director.
Prof Venn takes over from Professor Tom Marwick who is moving to the Baker IDI in Melbourne.
A leading epidemiologist, Professor Venn has been awarded more than $30 million in research funding over her career and has had more than 140 peer-reviewed journal articles published. She has been Deputy Director at MIMR for some time and will continue to build its reputation.
30 years of Menzies in Darwin
Since the last Menzies Brief, it has been a busy time for the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, who have celebrated their 30th year with visits from both the Governor General and the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was up in Darwin to officially open the John Mathews Building at the Royal Darwin Hospital. John played a very significant role as the Founding Director of Menzies School of Health Research and then also as the Executive Director of the Menzies Foundation and many of you would know him well.
Director of the Menzies School of Health Research, Professor Alan Cass with the Prime Minister in Darwin.
The Governor General attended the 30th anniversary celebration dinner with an array of senior researchers from Menzies, Menzies Foundation Board members and other selected guests who were treated to a performance by Gurrumul.
In other Menzies School of Health Research news, Dr Gabrielle McCallum was also recently awarded the 2015 Bupa Health Foundation Emerging Health Researcher award in recognition of her work to find ways to provide early treatment, and prevent recurring lung infections and lung damage, in Indigenous children.
Health and Medical Research on the Gold Coast
The Menzies Health Institute Queensland (HIQ) was the major driver of the annual Gold Coast Health and Medical Research Conference 2015 last week.
In partnership with Gold Coast Health, Bond University, Southern Cross University, the Gold Coast Medical Association, Griffith University and Menzies HIQ have been working hard to ensure a high standard academic and research program with a focus on translational research for the prevention of chronic disease.
Look for the conference to continue to grow in coming years.
Also, we would like to acknowledge Professor Allan Cripps AO, who will be stepping down from his role as Pro Vice Chancellor Health at Griffith University to continue his research career. Prof Cripps played an instrumental role in getting Menzies HIQ off the ground and has been a great friend of the Menzies Foundation in developing the partnership. We look forward to continuing the relationship both with Prof Cripps and with the new Pro Vice Chancellor once they are appointed early next year.
In other Menzies HIQ news, Director, Professor Sheena Reilly, recently presented to the Menzies Foundation Board on her perceptions and plans after 3 months in the role.
Menzies Scholar Spotlight – Dr John O’Neil - MD FRACP Consultant Neurologist
1984 Menzies Scholarship to the UK – Medicine
What is your job?
I am a Consultant Neurologist at St. Vincent's General and Private Hospitals and the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Sydney and from 1987 I have also consulted one day each week in Wollongong, my birthplace. I also have a medicolegal interest and am an Approved Assessor for the State Regulatory Insurance Authority (previously the Motor Accidents Authority) and WorkCover.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work?
I have been most fortunate in my choice of career. After studying Medicine, my deductive reasoning and enthusiasm for accuracy in diagnosis led me into the subspecialty of Clinical Neurology which I have pursued to the full. Neurology was and still remains the most clinical (dependant on bedside history and examination for diagnosis) of the subspecialties of Medicine. It most requires an understanding of people (across the wide spectrum of society) and an ability to effectively communicate with them. At 61, it remains a pleasure for me to go to work each day and I still get excited about "the interesting case," an enthusiasm noticeable to and sometimes commented upon by junior doctors.
Who has influenced your career and how?
My career was most influenced by my original mentors in Neurology, especially Dr William Burke who was the first appointed Neurologist to St Vincent's, Sydney. He was also the principal referee for my application for the Menzies Scholarship. Like Dr Burke and my other forebears at St Vincent's, I was determined to pursue postgraduate studies at the National Hospitals for Neurology and Neurosurgery at Queen Square, London. There, over 4 to 5 years, I enjoyed remarkable clinical and research experience which has continued to influence my practice. In my view, such overseas experience is vital to both personal and professional development.
How has the Menzies Scholarship helped you?
Monetarily, the Scholarship was a godsend in terms of a substantial supplement to a frugal research income over the 2 years of my Medical Doctorate, my first 2 years in London. More importantly, it opened doors to meetings (often at wonderful locations) with distinguished British and Australian figures from many walks of life, including ex-Prime-Ministers and famous sportsmen. I met some wonderful Australian contemporaries. Belinda Gibson (Law) and I remain close friends. I have the greatest admiration for and comradery with Professor Matthew Kiernan (the youngest Professor of Neurology in Australian history) with whom I occasionally share patients. Richard Epstein (a highly regarded clinical and research Oncologist) is now also on the consultant staff of St Vincent's.
What is the book that influenced you most?
I love reading and have read widely so there are many books which have had an impact one way or another. Perhaps the book I most recommend to others is "A Fortunate Life" by A. B. Facey, an inspiring Australian story depicting incredible faith and courage in the face of overwhelming and enduring hardship.
What are your passions outside of work?
I love water. I remain a regular surf swimmer (not so often now a board rider) and with various groups of like-minded people, I swim (at Northbridge Baths in summer and the iconic North Sydney Pool in winter) a minimum of the old "mile" on most days of the week before work. Otherwise, I most value and maintain friendships.
How do you describe leadership?
To me leadership implies having a goal or vision of paramount importance and inspiring others to believe in that mission and to work collaboratively to achieve it. A good leader should bring out the best in those working with him or her. A good leader should be aware of his or her own faults and be prepared to appropriately adapt or make sacrifices for the greater good. Being essentially an honest person with a strong sense of right and wrong, I only have time for leaders who personally eschew the qualities of justice and integrity.
Photo competition – high standards
Now we certainly haven’t been overwhelmed by the number of entries for the scholar photo competition but we have been blown away by the quality. See one of several images submitted by 2015 Engineering Scholar Quan Lau. The engineers are certainly leading the charge!
We will extend the competition until the end of January to give everyone the chance to get snapping over the holidays. The winner will be announced in the next Menzies Brief. Remember the prize is $100 book voucher. See the September Menzies Brief for more details.
Email your high resolution pics through to Kate. It’s even better if you’re in them!
From the CEO - Sarah Hardy
Just a quick note from me to say thank you to the MMSA members for another fantastic year. In particular those who attended our events in Canberra would hopefully have been inspired by what they heard and enjoyed spending time with their fellow alumni. We certainly enjoyed spending time with you.
In 2016 I will be talking to you some more about initiatives such as the MMSA Community Grants – there is a lot to look forward to.
I wanted to wish you and your families a very safe, relaxed and happy festive season from the team at the Menzies Foundation; Pam, Kate, AJ and myself.
The office here will be closed from Wednesday 23 December until Monday 4 January.