HMRI CEO and Executive Director, Professor David J. Adams; Nadia Levin, CEO and Managing Director of Research Australia, IHMRI's Patron, Dame Bridget Ogilvie AC, DBE, ScD, FRS, FAA; and IHMRI Chief Operating Officer, Kara Lamond. Photo by Mark Newsham.

IHMRI researchers celebrate their achievements 

In the lead up to International Women’s Day, IHMRI once again held, Lunch with Dame Bridget Ogilvie, a special event to celebrate and support female health and medical researchers in the region. The event is named in honour of IHMRI’s Patron, renowned scientist, Dame Bridget Ogilvie AC, DBE, ScD, FRS, FAA.

Like the inaugural Lunch with Dame Bridget Ogilvie in 2017, IHMRI brought together a diverse group of female researchers at different stages of their careers, who work at the University of Wollongong and/or the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.

Held on 27 February 2018 at The Grange, Lunch with Dame Bridget Ogilvie was not only a networking event, but a platform to raise issues that hamper the career progression of female researchers, particularly those living in regional areas.

“Women researchers at IHMRI range from lab scientists to allied health professionals and clinicians. They are working together to solve major health challenges. Due to their efforts, brilliant research is happening right here in the Illawarra. We want to celebrate their achievements and dedication, and assist their career progression,” stated Dame Bridget Ogilvie. 

IHMRI Research Assistant, Clare Watson, was the MC of the event. She highlighted that it’s been a great year for female researchers at IHMRI.

“The NHMRC success of Dr Martina Sanderson-Smith, Dr Lezanne Ooi and Dr Kelly Lambert is to be celebrated…We’ve also had two PhD students accepted into the Homeward Bound leadership program for women in science,” she said.

Keynote address

Attendees at the event enjoyed an inspirational talk by Nadia Levin, CEO and Managing Director of Research Australia.

Ms Levin’s career has spanned across a number of complex and regulated environments, in both the private and public sector. In her current role she seeks to unlock the full potential of the Australian health and medical research sector.

Nadia Levin, CEO and Managing Director of Research Australia. Photo by Mark Newsham.

Nadia Levin, CEO and Managing Director of Research Australia. Photo by Mark Newsham.

Ms Levin’s address spanned diverse topics and she called for a balanced approach to improving gender equality in health and medical research, stressing the importance of being proactive. On how to survive in the competitive world of health and medical research, she said:

“Design it accordingly, demand it accordingly – be angry sometimes, be outcomes focused, demonstrate the change you seek, follow your passion and let no man, or woman dissuade you.”

She also spoke about how the world of research must be re-evaluated to ensure gender equality.

“To truly drive change, we must change the way we think about research, fund research, reward research and most of all we must be courageous in our approach because more of the same just gets us more of the same.”

Dame Bridget Ogilvie Awards

To help female researchers overcome career barriers, IHMRI established the Dame Bridget Ogilvie Awards in 2017 to reward outstanding work by early to mid-career female researchers. Two awards were available in 2018, worth $3,000 each.

“Our Dame Bridget Ogilvie Awards are a way in which we can provide support at that crucial early to mid-career point, to assist female researchers progress in their careers,” stated IHMRI CEO and Executive Director, Professor David J. Adams.

Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng won the Dame Bridget Ogilvie Citation Award, which recognises research excellence in outstanding publications by an early career female researcher.

Associate Professor Feng is an expert on public and population health. Her research is focused on how local health service provision and the built environment – the availability of parks and fast food in neighbourhoods, for example – influence the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.

Dr Yasmine Probst won the Dame Bridget Ogilvie Clinical Excellence Award, which recognises the excellence of a female researcher who has demonstrated high impact in their respective field.

Dr Probst works within the clinical trials research team to manage food-based intervention trials with a specific focus on dietary methodology, dietary modeling and food composition.

Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng, Dame Bridget Ogilvie and Dr Yasmine Probst. Photo by Mark Newsham.

Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng, Dame Bridget Ogilvie and Dr Yasmine Probst. Photo by Mark Newsham.

Panel discussion

To provide an opportunity for the sharing of ideas and experiences,  Lunch with Dame Bridget Ogilvie also featured a panel discussion, facilitated by Dr Devanshi Seth, Principal Scientist at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Centenary Institute, and Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Sydney.

Dr Seth has more than 25 years of training and experience as a molecular biologist in the biotechnology industry and more recently public health. She is internationally renowned for her current research on alcoholic liver disease.

Dr Seth is an active promoter of women in science. She is on the Peer Advisory Committee of Franklin Women, a community of women working in health and medical research careers, whose aim is to bring together like-minded women for networking, personal and professional development and career progression. 

The panelists participated in a spirited discussion on a range of issues, providing practical tips and advice on how they work in health and medical research. They discussed leadership qualities, their views on mandatory quotas, sourcing a support system, managing priorities and how to enhance confidence.

The panellists included:

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator
E: lnegline@uow.edu.au 
T: +61 2 4221 4702 
M: +61 417 044 867

Top photo: IHMRI CEO and Executive Director, Professor David J. Adams; Nadia Levin, CEO and Managing Director of Research Australia, IHMRI’s Patron, Dame Bridget Ogilvie AC, DBE, ScD, FRS, FAA; and IHMRI Chief Operating Officer, Kara Lamond. Photo by Mark  Newsham.

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