Great minds at HMRI celebrated at annual awards evening

Some of the best and brightest minds at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) were celebrated at the annual Research of the Year Awards last night.

The HMRI’s night of nights at NEX in Newcastle was also celebrating the 25th year of the HMRI doing some incredible things in the Hunter region since its establishment in 1998.

Three researchers and a research team were honoured last night, each also receiving funding to go towards their research.

The major gong, the HMRI Award for Research Excellence, went to Professor Zsolt Balogh from the Surgical and Perioperative Research Program. He won $20,000 to go towards his research into better post-surgical outcomes for patients.

Professor Balogh is also the Director of Trauma at the John Hunter Hospital, the largest volume and lowest mortality trauma centre in NSW, and Professor of Surgery at the University of Newcastle.

He has also authored over 300 peer-reviewed articles, been cited over 24,000 times and has convened a multi-disciplinary team of clinical researchers at HMRI dedicated to reducing the burden of injury, the 3rd leading cause of death.

Professor Zsolt Balogh

The Director’s Award for Mid-Career Research went to Associate Professor Matt Dun from the Cancer Research Program for his research into the deadliest childhood disease Diffuse Intrinsic Potine Glioma (DIPG), an aggressive form of brain cancer.

His work has led to the commencement of an adaptive combination therapy international phase II clinical trial for patients diagnosed with DMG, which is already seeing promising results.

The HMRI Award for Early Career Research was won by Dr Rachael Sutherland for her work in preventing childhood obesity via the SWAP IT campaign that urged parents to swap high energy, low nutrient lunchbox snacks for healthier options. She is also the Nutrition Program Manager at the Hunter New England Health.

The Newcastle Centre of Excellence in Cardio-Oncology led by Professor Aaron Sverdlov and Professor Doan Ngo won the HMRI Foundation Research Team Excellence Award.

The centre addresses the link between cancer and cardiovascular disease. They’ve worked hard to identify a dual-purpose medication that treats cancer while safeguarding the heart from anti-cancer medication effects. The team received $30,000 in prize money last night to go towards their research into cardio-protective drug therapies for cancer patients.

Associate Professor Dun and Dr Sutherland each received $20,000 to go towards their research.

“These awards recognise the hard work, determination and commitment of these researchers in seeking answers to some of our biggest health challenges. I congratulate all the winners for their lasting impact on improving the wellbeing of our community,” said HMRI Director and Institute CEO Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin.

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