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Menzies Foundation Newsletter June 2017

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Menzies Foundation News
  Hello Visitor,  

From the CEO

Sarah Hardy CEO

Many of you will have received our recent update on the Foundation’s new focus areas for 2018 and beyond.

It’s been an opportunity to look back and consider the key purpose for which the Foundation was created; in essence to honour Sir Robert’s memory by providing establishment funding and support to areas which needed investment and which will grow to have significant benefits for Australians.

It feels like we have an incredible opportunity to look with fresh eyes at what has been done in the past and refine our strategy to ensure the Foundation’s impact is as effective as it can be.

Probably one of the best examples is the role played by the Foundation in helping to establish the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin with its focus on Indigenous Health.

The seed of the idea for Menzies in Darwin came from the first Menzies National Conference held in Melbourne in 1980, where of the 320 delegates only five came from the Northern Territory; an area where there were major health problems, particularly for Aboriginal communities, but also related to social isolation, the climate and other issues unique to the Territory.

It wasn’t that there hadn’t been investment in health and medical research before but there hadn’t been a dedicated Indigenous and tropical health focus. The Menzies Foundation got to work with a range of parties in Darwin and today we see the results.

According to a 2015 Deloitte’s Report, Menzies’ activities deliver a net benefit of $700 million across Australia and the region.

On an individual level, catching up with Menzies Scholars and hearing about their exploits, continues to hearten and drive us to ensure the next phase of work hits the mark too. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Sir Ninian Stephen Menzies International Law Scholar, Patrick Wall, who was back in Australia for a family visit, and hear about his new role with UNHCR working on the global compact for refugees; an incredibly important piece of work for Australia and far more broadly.

You can read about what he’s up to below.

Engaging with experts across the fields of education, science and law – including our own incredible alumni - is a key part of our work over the next couple of months as we more closely frame the new areas of work which we hope will have significant impact over time, to make sure we get it right.

If you would like to talk to me about the Menzies Foundation’s new focus, please feel free to email me or call on +61 3 9419 5699. 

Sarah Hardy
CEO, Menzies Foundation 

2016 Annual report released

Menzies Foundation Annual Report 2016We have just released our 2016 Annual Report at the Menzies Foundation AGM on 19 May.

A visit by Baroness Valerie Amos, who delivered the Menzies Oration, the opening of Menzies Square in Jeparit and highlights from the Menzies Scholars across Australia and around the world feature in the report, along with changes to the details of some of the Foundation’s partnership arrangements.

You can download a copy or view it online.

If you would like a hard copy, please email AJ Epstein at and we will organise for one to be sent.    

Menzies Centenary Prize awarded

Courtney DoveDimboola Memorial Secondary College Dux, Courtney Dove, has overcome a lot of obstacles to start her tertiary education at the University of Melbourne. With a scholarship to stay on campus at Queens College, Courtney has started a Bachelor of Arts and hopes to major in Psychology and Media & Communications. Read about Courtney’s endeavours to deal with her own mental health concerns as well as taking the initiative to help other young people in the Hindmarsh Shire.  It is not hard to see why Courtney is the recipient of the $10,000 Menzies Centenary Prize for 2016.

Menzies Scholars achieve amazing things

Queensland QC and 1987 Menzies Scholar in Law, Mr Roger Derrington has been appointed to the Federal Court as a Judge and has started his role with the Brisbane registry of the court. 

Dr Tracy SlatyerDark Matter expert and Harvard Menzies Scholar, Dr Tracy Slatyer (pictured), combines research in particle and astro physics in her attempts to solve one of the fundamental puzzles of science. We spoke to her recently to get a better understanding of her work and she has a great story of resilience. The MIT Assistant Professor was recently presented with the MIT Future of Science Award.

Recent graduate, 2015 Sir Ninian Stephen Menzies Scholar in International Law, Patrick Wall, started a new role with the UNHCR in Geneva working on the development of the global compact on refugees. He told us all about the importance of this next step in helping refugees and the countries that host them.

David RiglarNHMRC/Menzies Fellow Dr David Riglar, has released his latest research on how engineered bacteria in the gut microbiome could be used for next generation diagnostics and therapeutics. The engineered bugs can give live diagnostics of inflammation. David is pictured courtesy of Wyss at Harvard University.

WEHI lab head, Professor Nick Huntington, NHMRC/Menzies Fellow, is the recipient of one of 34 research awards world wide provided by the Melanoma Research Alliance. Nick was presented with a Young Investigator Award recently which provides  up  to  $75,000  per  year  for  three  years (up  to  $225,000  total)  to  accomplish  innovative,  translational  research  projects to cure melanoma.

Harnessing new technologies, using innovative teaching methods and thinking about business, law and social impact differently, are central to building the next generation of change-makers, according to 2012 Menzies Scholar Jessica Roth, who is the founder and Director of the Social Impact Hub in Sydney.

Professor John Pimanda, haematologist and 2003 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow, has been appointed head of pathology at UNSW, expanding his role which already straddles clinical and academic roles. John is head of the Adult Cancer Program at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre, UNSW and a haematologist at the Prince of Wales Hospital. But when you talk to John about his work, it’s clear his research work is his first passion and it’s the opportunity to make transformational change which drives him. Read more here.

From campaigning for Hilary Clinton to tutoring in a local correctional facility, Harvard Menzies Scholar, Sibella Matthews, is making the most of every minute on her scholarship in Boston and so far it has exceeded all of her expectations. Read some more about the experiences of a scholar who wants to change the juvenile justice system. 

In the media

  • As reported in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Menzies Scholar in Medicine, Professor Robyn O’Hehir AO, and her team at Alfred Health and Monash University, is one step closer to a vaccine for peanut allergy now that human trials have commenced
  • MMSA President and Menzies Scholar in Engineering, Dr Adrian McCallum, has written a piece for his local newspaper about living a life of adventure.
  • Building on his extensive body of research and experience with damaging virus cytomegalovirus (CMV), Professor Bill Rawlinson is one of the authors of new treatment guidelines on CMV, recently published in the Lancet Infectious medical journal. The paper contains consensus recommendations for prevention, diagnosis, and therapy of CMV.
  • Matthew Kiernan1998 NHMRC/Menzies Fellow, Professor Matthew Kiernan, appeared as part of a special on 60 Minutes, talking about the mechanism of MND, the latest research into treatment options and the challenge of communicating a diagnosis to a patient.
  • In a Boston Herald opinion piece perhaps the US President didn’t read, Harvard Menzies Scholar, Matthew Tyler, mounted the case for a clean energy future in the US, saying renewable energy may prove the key to Donald Trump’s White House Legacy.
  • Menzies Scholar in Medicine, Professor Jamie Vandenberg, helped Channel 7 viewers better understand research findings on the risk of cardiac arrest associated with ibuprofen use. 

Menzies Institutes’ wrap

The Queensland Government has announced $5 million will go towards spinal injury research being conducted at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery and Menzies Health Institute Queensland, who are looking to cure spinal cord injuries.

On World No Tobacco Day, Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin spoke to the ABC about the research they are doing into the potential use of social media to help reduce smoking rates in Indigenous communities.

Menzies Institute of Medical Research has received $1 million from former AFL Footballer, Neale Daniher’s FightMND fund, to build on the MND research of Institute Deputy Director, Associate Professor Tracey Dickson. The research is exploring potential drug therapies for the condition.

Thank you for your donation

If you would like to be an early supporter of the Menzies Foundation’s new focus areas, please consider a pre tax-time donation which can be organised on or offline. Donations can be made via our website, or please contact Pam Shearman on +61 3 9419 5699.