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The Menzies Brief - Vol 18, No. 3, 2015

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  Vol 18 No. 3 | 14 July 2015  

Hello Visitor,

This is the latest edition of the Menzies Brief - Vol 18, No. 3, 2015


July 2015

President's Report

Dariel de SousaFirstly, let me say thank you to all the generous alumni who have made their annual donation to the MMSA, including those who were able to donate more than the recommended amount. This generous support allows us to continue to fund a student in regional Victoria from Sir Robert’s high school, to attend university. It also allows us to more effectively engage with and bring the alumni together.  The hope is that, in the future, the MMSA will be well-positioned to make important, tangible contributions to Australian society.  This is a big aspiration but Josie and I have confidence that this is attainable given the talent among our alumni.

I’d like to encourage you all to start thinking about your capacity to take on a role with the MMSA when we have our AGM at the end of the year. It might seem early to start talking about it, but November will come around quickly. Since 2012, I have enjoyed an extremely rewarding time as Secretary and then as President – it has been an honour to be at the helm but it has also benefitted me in some profound ways. 

The Secretary and President of the MMSA are appointed as Directors of the Menzies Foundation. Through this role, I have been able to see first-hand the amazing work of the Foundation (see, for example, the piece below about the Foundation's support for improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians). It has been heart-warming to witness the commitment of the Foundation Board and team to the Foundation's work, including funding scholarships.  This role has also provided me with the opportunity to meet a range of leaders, including High Court judges, Governors and a former Prime Minister! Being on the MMSA Committee has also enabled me to meet many of you, which I have really enjoyed and appreciated.

Josie will take on the President’s role from November and we will be looking for her replacement as Secretary/Treasurer. The Secretary/Treasurer's term runs for one year to be followed by a term of one year as President. If anyone would like to talk to me about the possibility of taking on this role, please get in touch. Josie and I are more than happy to answer any questions.

An email with more details will follow later in the year along with your official invitation to apply!

Dariel De Sousa

Secretary’s report

Josie BarbaroI hope you’ve had the opportunity to take a look at the new Alumni section of the Menzies Foundation website. You will have received your user names and passwords in June and this gives you the opportunity to log in and update your profile, which will only be visible to other scholars.

I wanted to let you know about some work the Foundation is doing to review the Allied Health Scholarship. It is a great opportunity to benchmark the scholarship and compare it with other opportunities available to allied health researchers. I am part of the review committee and would welcome any feedback you might have on the current scholarship. Please email me via the email address before 18 July.

Can I also support Dariel’s comments re the opportunity to take up an executive position with the MMSA and with the Menzies Foundation Board. It’s a smart career move and a great way to give back to the Foundation and support your fellow scholars. I think we have a great opportunity to work together and harness the talents of our alumni to achieve some great things.

Josie Barbaro

30 years supporting Indigenous Health and Medical Research

Menzies School of Health ResearchThis year the Menzies School of Health Research is celebrating 30 years of improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

Today Menzies also extends its pioneering work into global and tropical health in more than 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

The team at Menzies in Darwin has been receiving some excellent media coverage of their work and achievements over that 30 year period and you can read all about it here.

The 30-year celebration also marks a significant milestone for the Menzies Foundation which has a very proud history supporting the work of the Menzies team. Over the years, the Menzies Foundation has provided over $3 million in support for the Menzies School of Health Research.

It’s a fantastic milestone and something both organisations are very proud of. It is an important part of the Menzies Foundation’s commitment to supporting and fostering health and medical research outcomes.

Engineering scholarship open; Law coming soon 

2016 Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Scholarship in EngineeringThe 2016 Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Scholarship in Engineering, valued at up to $75,000 per year, is now open for applications. If you know of anyone who may be eligible, please refer them to the Menzies Foundation website for more information on how to apply. Applications close on 31 July.

It is ‘scholarship season’ at the Menzies Foundation right now and our scholarships for Law and International Law open very soon.

As you know, we are looking for the next generation of leaders in all fields, so please do what you can to get the word out there with your peers and colleagues.

Professional support one of the keys to success

Think of where you are professionally today; think of the women and men who have guided and supported you in attaining the position of leadership or expertise that you now hold.

How might your life have been different if you had not been guided or nurtured by these people in your life; those people who chose to give their time for you?

In October last year as Secretary of the MMSA, I spoke to you about an initiative that has recently gone ‘live’ – the MMSA Mentoring Program.

The Mentoring Program is part of our drive to ensure the experience of a Menzies Scholar is fulfilling and satisfying during and beyond the scholarship years. 

This initiative is designed to provide the opportunity for senior or more experienced Menzies alumni to connect with younger or less experienced alumni.

Mentors have the opportunity to gain personal satisfaction from sharing their experience and connections with Mentees, who conversely have the opportunity to obtain advice, feedback and an expanded base of skills, knowledge, and networking opportunities. 

The first small step I ask you to take is to please, have a look at the Mentoring site and consider adding your detail as a Mentor or as a Mentee; see: 

Perhaps this may provide you with an opportunity to serve others as others have served you…

Thank you for reading. I look forward to completing my own profile and reviewing yours on the MMSA Mentoring site (part of the ‘Alumni’ section of the Menzies Foundation website).

If you have any difficulties getting online, make sure you contact Kate or AJ at the Menzies Foundation and they will help you. If you have a story about how mentoring has helped your career in an unusual way, please contact Kate:

Best wishes

Adrian McCallum
(2007 Menzies Scholar in Engineering) 

Menzies Scholars achieve amazing things…. 

Menzies Scholars Angela Winkle and Dr Si Ming Man

Our fellow alumni have continued to demonstrate their high quality skills and leadership. Here is a selection of the latest stories:

  • 2015 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow Dr Si Ming Man is part of a research team which has discovered that boosting the activity of a protective gene and giving patients ‘good’ gut bacteria could help prevent or slow the progression of colorectal cancer
  • 2008 Menzies Scholar in Allied Health, Dr Phillip Tully, has played a lead role in a new study which shows panic attacks can lead to heart disease.
  • 2014 Menzies Scholar to Harvard, Angela Winkle, is the Co-President of the Women's Student Association at Harvard Business School and also won through to the semi-finals of the HBS New Ventures Competition.
  • 2005 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow, Adrian Liston, has been involved in a Belgian study providing insights into the cause of irritable bowel syndrome and the links between psychological factors and the immune system.

If you have a recent achievement or story to tell, make sure you email Kate Nolan with the details:

It’s so good to hear about what the MMSA members have been up to. 

Allied Health grant to help with glaucoma research

Dr Zhichao WuOptometrist and Research Fellow at the Centre for Eye Research Australia, Dr Zhichao Wu, has been awarded the 2015 Menzies Allied Health Sciences start up grant of $25,000 to support his research into glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible blindness.

Zhichao is the 2014 Menzies Memorial Scholar in the Allied Health Sciences and was also recently awarded the University of Melbourne Dean’s Award for Excellence for his PhD thesis on the Novel Clinical Biomarkers of Disease in Early Stages of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Congratulations Zhichao.

Read more.

Spotlight on…. Stephanie Ward

Stephanie WardStephanie Ward was the 2009 Robert Gordon Menzies Scholar to Harvard University where she undertook a Masters of Public Health specialising in Healthcare Management and Policy in the Harvard School of Public Health.

What is your job?

I am a geriatrician (doctor specialising in older adults), and I also work at the Monash Ageing Research Centre (MONARC) and the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine focusing on research into prevention in the elderly and healthy ageing.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work?

In my clinical work undoubtedly it is meeting my older patients and hearing their varied life stories. I am so often amazed and impressed by their life accomplishments – professional achievements, raising families, migrating to a new country, balancing work and family life – although when I tell my patients this I know they just think I am being polite. It’s a true privilege of being a doctor. In recent years I have been involved with some very exciting prevention studies through Monash University School of Public health and the ASPREE study – including preparation of grants – and although it’s a fairly stressful time, it is also exciting to have input into the design of a study and think critically on the important questions to ask.

What is your favourite book? (film / music / activity?)

Favourite books: The Passion by Jeanette Winterson and How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman. The latter is an excellent collection of essays on common cognitive errors doctors may make – a good read for anyone, but one I highly recommend for training doctors.

Music: Joni Mitchell

Film: ‘Flying High’ probably…

Activity: Well, I have a 2 year old son, so right now sleep.

Where in the world would you like to visit?

I would love to go to Japan.

Who has inspired you?

I am inspired by many people including of course my patients and their carers, colleagues, and many of my classmates and teachers from the Harvard School of Public Health where I did my Masters with the Menzies Scholarship.

However, closest to home I am inspired by my husband (Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh), in particular because of his relentless drive, passion and vision for his research (into electronics and nanotechnology), and not the least his ability to get our son into a bath on a nightly basis.

Who would you most like to meet?

Joni Mitchell

How has the Menzies Scholarship helped you?  

Immeasurably. The Menzies Scholarship allowed me to complete a Masters of Public Health at Harvard – in itself it was a fantastic course and grounding in public health, but it has also been a wonderful vehicle to allow me to begin a research career into preventive measures and public health in the elderly. A highlight of life made possible by the Menzies Scholarship is involvement in several ancillary studies of the Monash University led ASPREE study ( – a very important study evaluating the role of low dose aspirin in prolonging dementia and disability-free survival in 19,000 elderly, involving over 16,500 older Australians. Ancillary studies that I am involved with as an investigator include the effect of aspirin on sleep apnoea, brain microvasculature and falls and fractures, as well as a longitudinal study of ageing of this cohort. The Menzies scholarship gave me both the skills, and importantly confidence, to become part of this study.

Another benefit is connecting with other MMSA scholars – the annual meeting and dinner in November is such a lovely event, and I am looking forward to being part of the growing network in years to come.

Former Chief Scientist joins Menzies Foundation Board

Dr John Stocker AOThe research credentials of the Menzies Foundation Board have been strengthened with the addition of Dr John Stocker AO as a new Director.

John has served in a number of pre-eminent science roles including the Australian Government's Chief Scientist, former Chief Executive of the CSIRO, Chairman of the Australian Science and Technology Council and as a member of the Australian Research Council. He has a distinguished career in pharmaceutical research and extensive experience in the commercialisation of research and development.

John is also into viticulture and is a former Director of Wine Victoria so he might have some good tips for us when we choose the wines for the annual dinner!

First Australian Innate Lymphocyte Symposium

Dr Nick Huntington, Laboratory Head for the Molecular Immunology Division at Walter + Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) and 2006 RG Menzies/NHMRC Fellow, recently organised the First Australian Innate Lymphocyte Symposium.

Nick brought together Australian and international specialists and students to look at how specialised immune cells – known as natural killer (NK) cells – develop in our bodies and protect us from infection and cancer.

The Menzies Foundation sponsored the symposium, which was held at WEHI, where Nick conducts his research.

The symposium featured several international experts in the field of innate immunology, including Professors Eric Vivier (France), Dale Godfrey, Mark Smyth (Australia), Sophie Ugolini (France) and Gabrielle Belz (Australia).

As part of the symposium there was also a Menzies Foundation Student Seminar and Poster Prize awarded to Jai Rautela. 

AJ joins the team 

Mr AJ EpsteinThere is another new face at the Menzies Foundation. AJ Epstein has joined the team as a Project Officer. AJ comes with great publishing, marketing and public relations experience having worked with Science in Public. He is also studying a Masters in Communication. AJ may be in touch with you over coming months, particularly in relation to the AGM and making sure we have your latest profile details on our website. If you need to get in touch with AJ, email or call 03 9419 5699.

Are you following us yet?

You may have noticed the Menzies Foundation is now active on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Follow us to keep up with the latest happenings of the Foundation and our scholars.

Twitter: @MenziesFdation


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