Research Australia Appoints Two New Board Members University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson and CSL’s Dr Michael Wilson

The nation’s peak body for health and medical research and innovation, Research Australia, has welcomed University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Patricia M. Davidson and CSL, Vice President of Research, Dr Michael Wilson, to its Board.

Chair of Research Australia Martin Bowles AO PSM said, “It is wonderful to be able to enhance our Board with two well renowned leaders in health and medical research. Professor Davidson and Dr Wilson bring extensive local and international clinical, academic, and drug development expertise.

“Professor Davidson is best known for her contributions to improving cardiovascular nursing and transitional care, with a focus on underserved populations in a global context. Patricia’s contribution to nursing and advocacy for nursing, as well as her leadership in higher education, will be invaluable as we focus on workforce innovation and change in the health and medical research sector.”

“Dr Wilson is an experienced research professional who has spent many years in the biotech industry. Michael has a track record of developing and leading drug development project teams for a range of clinical indications including rare diseases in hematology, immunology, and respiratory therapeutic areas,” Martin Bowles said.

Research Australia’s CEO and Managing Director, Nadia Levin is delighted to welcome two experienced and dedicated individuals to the Board of Research Australia.

Nadia said, “We look forward to working closely with Patricia to learn from her international experience and amplify the work that she is doing championing improved academic and health outcomes for women. As a representative of the health and medical research community on the Government’s Women’s Health Advisory Council, which was an initiative announced by Minister Kearney at the 2022 Research Australia Awards, this is an important cause for Research Australia.”

“Michael brings extensive knowledge and experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector, particularly in early-stage drug discovery and innovation. He is also a member of Brandon BioCatalyst Investment Review Committee and the Centre for Biologic Therapies Governance Committee. This synergy between research and commercialisation is vital for all facets of the health and medical research pipeline,” Nadia said.

Research Australia has also expressed its heartfelt thanks to outgoing Director Dr Andrew Nash, Senior Vice President Research and Chief Scientific Officer, CSL. “While we will miss the expertise and insight of Dr Andrew Nash on our Board, we are delighted that he can continue to share his deep knowledge of the health system with Research Australia as part of our prestigious alumni group,” Martin Bowles said.


Professor Patricia M. Davidson PhD, MEd, RN, FAAN

Patricia joined the University of Wollongong as Vice-Chancellor in May 2021. Prior to her current role, Professor Davidson was dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore in the United States. In 2021 she was the recipient of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) Distinguished Leader Award. This honour celebrates her exceptional contributions to the advancement of global health worldwide.

As a global leader in nursing, health care, and advocacy, Professor Davidson’s work focuses on person-centred care delivery and the improvement of cardiovascular health outcomes for women and vulnerable populations. She has extensively studied chronic conditions, transitional care, palliative care, and the translation of innovative, acceptable, and sustainable health initiatives across the world.

Professor Davidson serves as counsel general of the International Council on Women’s Health Issues and was a past board member of CUGH and secretary general of the Secretariat of the World Health Organizations Collaborating Centres for Nursing and Midwifery.

Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson, BSc (Hons), PhD, MBA is Vice President, Head of CSL Research at the Bio21 Institute, CSL’s hub of early-stage research and translational science. Michael and is an Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Michael completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in 1995 focusing on recombinant vaccines before moving to the UK in 1996, where he researched the genetics and function of immune cell receptors at Cancer Research UK and subsequently at the University of Cambridge. Michael completed his MBA whist in the UK at the University of Warwick.

In 2001, Michael joined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) leading a team with a primary focus on autoimmune diseases including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

In 2008, he joined CSL Limited as the Head of Molecular Biology within CSL Research before taking the position of Vice President, Head of CSL Research at the Bio21 Institute. Michael leads a team which focuses on the discovery and development of new protein, cell and gene-based medicines to treat serious human disease.

Research Australia Appoints New Chair of Board Martin Bowles AO PSM

The nation’s peak body for health and medical research and innovation, Research Australia, is delighted to announce Martin Bowles AO PSM, as the new Chair of the Board. Martin will take over from outgoing Chair Associate Professor Annette Schmiede, who will remain on the Board.

Martin has been a distinguished member of the Research Australia Board since 2020 and has been an active contributor to the success of Research Australia.

Martin is a visionary leader who has had an extensive career spanning both public and private arenas. Currently he is the National Chief Executive Officer of Calvary Health Care, responsible for more than 18,000 staff and volunteers, in Calvary’s hospitals, home and virtual care services, retirement living and residential aged care homes across five states and two territories.

Martin joined Calvary in November 2017 following an exemplary 40-year public service career spanning a diverse portfolio of industry sectors in the Commonwealth, Queensland, and New South Wales Governments.

Outgoing Research Australia Chair, Associate Professor Annette Schmiede welcomed Martin to the role saying, “Martin will lead an organisation that is going from strength to strength as we continue championing our impressive health and medical research sector, delivering on Research Australia’s strategic goals and, ultimately, working to improve Australians’ health outcomes.”

Research Australia has expressed its heartfelt thanks to outgoing Chair and Digital Health CRC CEO, Associate Professor Annette Schmiede. Annette has been on the board since 2015 and Chair since 2020.

Research Australia CEO and Managing Director, Nadia Levin, said, “The entire health and medical research sector owes Annette Schmiede a debt of gratitude. She steered us through the challenges and uncertainty of the COVID 19 pandemic, and we came through that unprecedented situation in a stronger and more secure situation due to her leadership and tenacity.

Annette was also instrumental in establishing Research Australia’s Health Economics Roundtable which continues as a key community of practice for both health economists and health services researchers. We are delighted that Annette will remain on our Board, her health policy expertise and insight continues to be invaluable.”

Advocacy Award Sponsored by AbbVie – Mrs Catherine Hughes from the Immunisation Foundation of Australia

Introducing our 2023 finalists: Mrs Catherine Hughes

Australia’s health advocates help transform medical research into tangible outcomes for patients and their communities. The Advocacy Award was created to celebrate the dedication and contributions of our most passionate health and medical research advocates.

Among this year’s finalists in this important category is Catherine Hughes, Director of the Immunisation Foundation of Australia (IFA), who has demonstrated tireless commitment to improving immunisation rates and community support for infectious diseases research.


Catherine’s health advocacy journey started when she lost her four-week-old son Riley to whooping cough in 2015. Determined to prevent other families from suffering because of vaccine-preventable diseases, Catherine and her husband Greg launched the ‘Light for Riley’ campaign.

The award-winning campaign took Catherine across Australia, spreading awareness about whooping cough and the importance of pertussis vaccination during pregnancy. Since the campaign, every Australian state and territory have implemented free pertussis vaccinations for pregnant women and Australia has some of the world’s highest pertussis vaccination rates among pregnant people.


In 2017, Catherine established the Immunisation Foundation of Australia (IFA) and expanded her advocacy to other vaccine-preventable diseases including influenza, RSV, meningococcal and pneumococcal.

As IFA Director, Catherine works closely with research institutes such as the Telethon Kids Institute to create evidence-based awareness campaigns and educational resources. Catherine has also been a consumer investigator on multiple research projects, using her strengths in community engagement to help bridge the gap between scientists and the wider community.

In recognition of her efforts, Catherine was named Western Australia’s Young Australian of the Year in 2016 and appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for services to immunisation in 2022.

Professor Jonathan Rhys Carapetis AM, FAA, FAHMS from the Telethon Kids Institute, who nominated Catherine, stressed the importance of vaccine advocacy in continuing to improve Australia’s public health outcomes.

“With vaccine hesitancy on the rise, being a loud advocate for vaccines can be challenging, and sometimes even dangerous. Yet, Catherine remains steadfast in her commitment to the cause and ensuring that communities are included in immunisation research and delivery,” explains Professor Carapetis.

“Catherine’s ability to connect with communities and deliver the pro-vaccination message with compassion and clarity is exactly the sort of advocacy we need to ensure the future success of immunisation in Australia.”

Catherine said: “I’m honoured to be a finalist in these prestigious Awards, along with other outstanding advocates for health and medical research. Our hope is that Australians from all walks of life will take action to remain up to date with whooping cough vaccination. We all have a role to play to spread this vital message and prevent the loss of loved ones like Riley.”

The winners of Research Australia’s Health and Medical Research Awards will be announced at a gala award ceremony in Sydney on November 2.

Griffith University Discovery Award Finalist – Dr Caitlin Jones from The Institute for Musculoskeletal Health

Introducing our 2023 finalists: Dr Caitlin Jones

It is an honour to be celebrating Australia’s research talent at this year’s Health and Medical Research Awards. Generously sponsored by Griffith University, the Discovery Award recognises an early-career researcher who is already making an important impact with their work.

Among the Discovery Award finalists for 2023 is Dr Caitlin Jones, who was awarded her PhD earlier this year and has already demonstrated research excellency through her leading role in the OPAL trial: a 12-month long study on the use of opioids for treating back pain.


 Lower back and neck pain are two of the most burdensome conditions among adults. Over 619 million people worldwide experience back pain at any one time[1] and between 40-70% of those who present for care are prescribed an opioid.[2]

Despite opioid prescription being common, there is little evidence to support its effectiveness for back pain. The harms from opioid use range from minor side effects like constipation, dizziness and nausea, to long-term harms such as dependence, addiction, and overdose. In Australia alone, opioid use causes 50 hospitalisations, 14 emergency department admissions, and 3 deaths every day – at a cost of over $5 billion each year.[3]


Dr Jones was the first author on the OPAL trial, published in The Lancet earlier this year. OPAL was a study of 347 people with acute non-specific back and/or neck pain in which half of the participants received an opioid (oxycodone/naloxone) and the other received a visually identical placebo. The groups were treated for up to six weeks, monitored for 12 months, and evaluated at the 2, 4, 6, 12, 26, and 52 week marks. Participants also reported daily pain scores for the first 12 weeks.

Dr Jones and the team discovered that those in the opioid group had worse outcomes compared to the placebo groups in several measures including pain, quality of life/mental health and physical function.

Current clinical guidelines recommend the prescription of opioids when other treatments have failed or are not appropriate. However, the OPAL trial clearly shows that they should not be used at all for this condition.

“OPAL is the world’s first and largest placebo-controlled trial of opioids for acute back and neck pain. The previous guidelines for opioid use were based on indirect evidence,” explains Dr Jones.

“The OPAL trial will help shift international guidelines and, as a result, reduce the many unnecessary harms caused by opioid prescriptions.”

The winners of Research Australia’s Health and Medical Research Awards will be announced at a gala award ceremony in Sydney on November 2.

[1] World Health Organisation. (2023, June 19). Low back pain. World Health Organisation.

[2] Ferreira GE, Machado GC, Abdel Shaheed C, et al. (2019). Management of low back pain in Australian emergency departments. BMJ Quality & Safety, 28(10), 826-834.

 [3] National Drug Research Institute. (2020). The cost of opioid use to Australia: $15.7 billion and 2203 deaths. NDRI News.


9 May 2023

The national peak body for health and medical research, Research Australia, has welcomed long overdue investment in key research funding streams, the NHMRC and ARC.

“Like all parts of the economy, inflation has well and truly increased the cost of undertaking health and medical research and innovation. In past Budgets, Government funding for research has failed to keep pace with inflation. Tonight’s commitment to a 3.6% increase over 2022 / 2023 brings the NHMRC in line with inflation. While there is still a long way to go, this is welcome news for the research community that all Australians rely on to improve their health,” said Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin.

Research Australia is pleased to see the attention being focused on the commercialisation of health and medical research, through programs such as the National Reconstruction Fund and Australia’s Economic Accelerator.

“For health and medical research and innovation to flourish, we must sustain the whole pipeline. Strategic and coordinated financial settings for all stages of the health and medical research pipeline will ensure Australian health and medical research can contribute to a healthy population and economy.

“The Medical Research Future Fund Board of Guardians approved up to $870 million for release from the MRFF to fund research in 2023-24. Of that available $870 million only $650 million is flowing through to the MRFF in 2023-24 and the subsequent three financial years. We will be working with Government to understand why,” said Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin.

Research Australia has also welcomed the Budget’s $6.1 billion investment in strengthening Medicare and improvements in digital health but says that reform must be supported by evidence grounded in research.

“The health and medical research sector welcomes the necessary primary care improvements in tonight’s Budget which will benefit Australian health consumers for the next decade and beyond.

“All health system change must be informed by latest and best evidence. However, there has been no commitment to fund research to guide the design and implementation of these measures, or to support their evaluation. Measures to boost the primary care workforce similarly, do not include support for researchers to generate the evidence for improved primary care.

“It is heartening to see overdue digital health investment, particularly improvements to the My Health Record which could one day provide a wealth of secure, anonymous health data and accompanying research opportunities on a scale never before seen in Australia.

“All improvements to the My Health Record must be accompanied by a framework to guide safe, sensible secondary use of my health record for public-good health research. Research Australia stands ready to work with a reinvigorated Australian Digital Health Agency to progress this Framework,” said Nadia Levin.



Research Australia is the national peak body for health and medical research, representing the entire health and medical research pipeline.


Research Australia member calls for action on A National Data Governance Framework

Friday 17 February 2023

Research Australia is delighted to share a terrific article from Research Australia Chair and Member, Digital Health CRC.

Associate Professor Annette Schmiede is CEO of Digital Health CRC and Chair of Research Australia. Associate Professor Schmiede said that Australia lacks a national health data and information governance framework, which was blocking digital health initiatives. To read Associate Professor Schmeide’s full article in the Australian Financial Review please click here.

The full Report from Digital Health CRC, Digital Transformation Of Healthcare In Australia Constrained – A Call To Action For A National Data Governance Framework, is available here.

Research Australia Announces New Patron Emeritus Professor Christine Bennett AO and Life Membership to Professor Alexandra McManus

November 2022

Research Australia Announces New Patron Emeritus Professor Christine Bennett AO and Life Membership to Professor Alexandra McManus

Research Australia’s Board were delighted to appoint Emeritus Professor Christine Bennett AO, as their new patron, and to present a life membership to Professor Alexandra McManus.
These exciting announcements were made at the Research Australia’s Annual General Meeting, which was held in Sydney this week.

Professor Christine Bennett has a longstanding association with Research Australia, serving as both a past Chair and CEO of the organisation. Research Australia Chair, Associate Professor Annette Schmiede, said “Christine’s appointment as Patron is an important acknowledgement of her ongoing contribution to our organisation and the health and medical research sector more broadly.”

Professor Bennett has maintained an active leadership position as a commentator and strategist on health reform in Australia and internationally. In 2008, the Prime Minister appointed her to be Chair of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission that provided advice to governments on a long-term blueprint for the future of the Australian health system and aged care.

Annette Schmiede said “Christine’s continuing affiliation with Research Australia over these last 20 years has enabled us to achieve NHMRC funding reform, progress towards a National Health and Medical Research Strategy and so much more. “Together, with Sir Gustav Nossal AC, Christine’s patronage of Research Australia will formalise her ongoing role in supporting and guiding the advocacy positions Research Australia takes on behalf of the sector.”

Research Australia is pleased and proud to have her take up this patronage.

Professor McManus has a longstanding association with Research Australia, serving as past Board Director of the organization from 2012 to 2018. Research Australia Chair, Associate Professor Annette Schmiede, said that “presenting life membership to Professor McManus is an important acknowledgement of her ongoing contribution to Research Australia.”

Professor McManus is a public health practitioner with substantial experience in multi-disciplinary research in urban, regional, and rural settings. She has a particular skill in translating complex research outcomes into a variety of easy-to-understand formats.

Professor McManus is highly deserving of this award as she continues demonstrating outstanding commitment to Research Australia.

Research Australia is proud that Professor McManus joins an illustrious group of Life Members. They are Professor Christine Bennett, AO, Professor Emeritus John Niland, AC, Mt Peter Wills, AC, Ms Mary Woolley, Professor John Funder, AC, Dr Chris Roberts, and The Hon. Dr Michael Wooldridge.


Research Australia is the national peak body for health and medical research, representing
the entire health and medical research pipeline.


25 October 2022

The national peak body for health and medical research, Research Australia, says that while tonight’s budget does not contain a lot of news – good or bad – for the health and medical research sector, it gives the sector breathing space to put current health and medical research spending under the microscope.

Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin, said, “Australia has to look more closely at where health and medical research funding is spent now, where it should be spent to be most effective and efficient, and what sort of health and medical research workforce Australia will need for the future.

“Research Australia continues to champion the National HMR Strategy, as announced last year, to ensure investment has maximum impact on national priorities and exploits areas of international competitive advantage.

“There is almost no new funding for the grants programs of NHMRC, MRFF or ARC, despite rising inflation making the cost of undertaking research more expensive. It is however heartening to see the commitment to health and medical research as a driver of a better healthcare evident in the Government’s commitments to new Cancer Centres and the National Centre for Disease Control.

“The continued commitment to the National Reconstruction Fund is welcome. It is through the $1.5bn investment in medical science that we can translate Australia’s world-class health innovation into the industries of the future.

“We look forward to working with the Albanese Government to understand how Australia can invest smarter to provide a better quality of life for Australians and maximise the innovation potential of Australian health and medical research,” Nadia Levin said.

Research Australia has welcomed the handful of measures relevant to health and medical research, including:

  • A $2.9 billion package to drive an innovative revamp of Australia’s primary health care system including $100 million to co-develop and pilot innovative models with states and territories to improve care pathways and inform program roll out.
  • $452 million to support the establishment of 2 world class comprehensive cancer centres in Brisbane and Adelaide.
  • $47.2 million over six years to encourage young people, especially women, to forge brighter careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions.
  • $13.5 million for developing Australia’s critical technology capability as part of the National Reconstruction Fund, as well as continued funding for the National Science and Technology Council.
  • $3.4 million to establish a National Health Sustainability and Climate Unit.
  • $3.2 million for preparatory work for the National Centre for Disease Control.


Research Australia is the national peak body for health and medical research, representing the entire health and medical research pipeline.


The nation’s peak body for health and medical research and innovation, Research Australia, has welcomed Managing Director of Telstra Health, Ms Elizabeth Koff AM, to its Board.

Chair of Research Australia Associate Professor Annette Schmiede said, “As the national peak body across all health and medical research in Australia, our Board is drawn from the leaders in our membership across our sector.”

“During her time as Secretary of NSW Health Ms Koff oversaw the NSW response to the Covid pandemic and advised the Government on the management of covid and the successful vaccine rollout. Elizabeth’s experience in both the public and private sector will provide an invaluable contribution to our strategic focus on health and medical research advocacy.”

Ms Koff said, “The pandemic demonstrated unequivocally the value of health and medical research. I am pleased to be joining the Research Australia board and contributing my support for this vital sector.”

Research Australia’s CEO, Nadia Levin said, “Ms Koff’s appointment reflects our recognition of the importance of cooperation between public, private enterprise and government when it comes to the broader scientific research endeavour in this country.

“Ensuring that Australia’s people continue to enjoy good health and a quality of life means we must make greater use of our research outcomes to drive greater health and economic impact.”

Research Australia has also expressed its heartfelt thanks to outgoing Director and past Telstra Health Managing Director, Professor Mary Foley. “Professor Foley’s contribution to the health and medical research community is immense and she will continue to share her deep health system expertise with Research Australia as part of our prestigious alumni group,” Annette Schmiede said.

In April 2022 Elizabeth was appointed Managing Director of Telstra Health, Australia’s largest digital health company and a subsidiary of Telstra Corporation.
Prior to this Elizabeth was Secretary, NSW Health for a six year term. As Secretary, Elizabeth was responsible for the management of the NSW health system, the largest health system in Australia with a $30 billion budget and 124,000 FTE. Key strategy achievements include the implementation of value based care across NSW, the progression of e-Health initiatives and a $2B/year capital infrastructure program. In 2020/2021 Elizabeth lead the NSW Health system through the COVID-19 pandemic and advised NSW crisis cabinet on the management of covid in NSW, and the subsequent vaccination roll out.
Elizabeth was chair of the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) and its subsequent iteration of Health Chief Executives Forum. She is also a member of Chief Executive Women.
Elizabeth was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday 2022 Honours.


Research Australia will hold the 19th Annual Health and Medical Research Awards on Thursday 8th December 2022, at the Metropolis, Melbourne.

As the national peak body for health and medical research, Research Australia’s Awards are highly regarded and coveted by the health and medical research sector. These prestigious awards are our recognition of the outstanding efforts and achievements of individuals and teams who drive and support the opportunities that health and medical innovation bring to each and every one of our lives.

Acknowledging talent and excellence in our sector is not only a key part of Research Australia’s role in advocacy for health and medical research, it is also paramount to encouraging future generations of great researchers. This event allows student, early to mid-career researchers and the sector’s more prominent influencers to share an experience which not only celebrates current innovation but encourages future growth in research, funding and corporate leadership.

Past Award winners include: Professor Brendan Murphy AC, The Hon Bob Carr, Lady Mary Fairfax AC OBE, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE, Laureate Professor and 2018 Scientist of the Year, Nicholas Talley AC, Sir Frank Lowy AC, Connie Johnson OAM & Samuel Johnson OAM and Andrew Forrest AO and Dr Nicola Forrest AO.  Prominent politicians, both Federal and State, are invited to attend each year to speak and present the Awards.

For more information on Research Australia’s Annual Health & Medical Research awards and how you can nominate someone to win one of these prestigious awards visit the website.


Research Australia is the national peak body for health and medical research, representing the entire health and medical research pipeline.