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The Menzies Brief - Vol 20, No. 1, 2017

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  Hello Visitor,

This is the latest edition of the Menzies Brief - Vol 20, No. 1, 2017

A message from the President

Adrian McCallumWelcome to our first Menzies Brief for 2017. I’m sure that, like me, your professional activities are already full steam ahead as the year continues to gallop away from us.

2017 may prove to be a significant year for the MMSA as we continue to examine how we can best leverage the enormous talents within our Association to ensure the ongoing impact and relevance of the Menzies Foundation into the future, as we head towards the 40th year of the Foundation.

We now have a tremendous group of almost 220 Alumni – many of you have attained significant success in your professional lives – and we are seeking ways to involve such an accomplished group, not just for our own benefit, but to provide ongoing opportunities for younger generations of Australian leaders, who might also benefit from the support of the Menzies Foundation.

Fittingly, I would like to pass on our warmest congratulations to Michelle Kerrin who has just been awarded the Menzies Indigenous Mentoring Fellowship – you can read all about Michelle below.

I must also take this opportunity to thank Alec Menzies, grandson of Sir Robert, who travelled to Dimboola in December to present the Menzies Centenary Prize to Andrew King on behalf of the MMSA. If you are interested in taking the trip to Dimboola in December, please contact the Foundation team and let them know. I understand this can be an extremely rewarding event.

The Foundation team is currently working on getting updated biographical information and photos for all of our alumni – no mean feat – so look out for an email from AJ asking you to verify or provide information and pictures. It will be great to read about everyone’s accomplishments. Speaking of accomplishments, please make sure you are sending Kate a quick email update about any of your achievements throughout the year, so the Foundation can continue to promote the work of the alumni.

Thanks for your engagement. I look forward to working enthusiastically with you all in 2017.

Dr Adrian McCallum
President, Menzies Memorial Scholars’ Association

Michelle Kerrin awarded Menzies Indigenous Mentoring Fellowship

The first Sir Robert Menzies Indigenous Mentoring Fellow, Michelle Kerrin, knows it’s a big deal to have an Aboriginal cultural background because for much of her life it was the missing piece of the puzzle.

Michelle Kerrin and MITS Students

The Darwin-born, University of Melbourne student and proud Arrernte and Luritja woman, has started her role as the Mentoring Fellow to the students at the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS) with a very important message: we can be the teachers about our culture, we can be game changers.

Michelle, who lived all of her life in Darwin before coming to Melbourne for university in 2015, will take on two important mentoring roles in 2017, both of which have been designed to help make the transition to study and higher education smoother for indigenous students. Not only is Michelle the Menzies Fellow at MITS but she is also part of the Indigenous Ambassadors and Mentors Program at Murrup Barak at the University of Melbourne.

Her own experiences should prove invaluable for those who follow her. Read more of Michelle’s story. 

Menzies Scholars achieve amazing things

A career ripe with possibilities – Dr Ken Pang, 2007 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow

Playing dual roles as a Consultant Paediatrician with the Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service (one of the largest in the world) and Clinician Scientist Fellow at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Dr Ken Pang works with transgender children and adolescents.

It would be hard to find a field of medicine more controversial but also ripe with possibilities.

Read more about the 2007 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow’s wide ranging roles.

Harvard propels Matthew into a unique role – 2012 Harvard Menzies Scholar, Matthew Brown

Matt Brown 2017So how exactly did a former pilot in the RAAF find himself managing the multi-billion dollar Oppenheimer Family endowment?

Matthew Brown is a partner on the investment team which helps manage the investment portfolio of the Oppenheimer Family (former owners of De Beers and Anglo American and family of South African business man and philanthropist, Nicholas Oppenheimer).

Read more about Matthew’s life in London and his plans for all of our superannuation!

Learning more about gambling and addiction – Dr Sally Gainsbury, 2007 Menzies Research Scholar in the Allied Health Sciences

Dr Sally Gainsbury, psychologist and Deputy Director of the Gambling Treatment Clinic and Research Group at the University of Sydney, continues to publish a range of papers and is sought out for her expertise on gambling and addiction. Her most recent papers include: Harm Minimisation in Gambling, a paper on Cultural competence in the treatment of addictions and another on the role of neuroscience in gambling policy and treatment.

Nick’s dual career the way of the future – Dr Nick Vines, 2001 Harvard Menzies Scholar 

Nicholas Vines Fanfare Comp Recording Session credit Artology's Fanfare CompetitionNick Vines is the only Harvard Menzies scholar with a PhD in Music Composition and has been teaching for just over five years at Sydney Grammar School, where he is now the Senior Master Academic Extension (Music).

Outside of his teaching role, he also has a creative career. The Opera, ‘Loose, Wet and Perforated’, which he recorded last year in Boston, will come out commercially this year. A friend in Australia is also recording Nick’s piano music of 12 movements for children at HSC level. He is lucky his temperament means he has the energy to wear many hats and pursue different aspects of his careers.

Read more of Nick’s thoughts on our changing world, in which a dual career is becoming more common.

Pictured: Nicholas Vines at the Fanfare Competition Recording Session. Photo thanks to  Artology’ s Fanfare Competition.

In the media

Two of our NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellows continue to attract the spotlight for their research findings.

  • Professor Adrian Liston, based at the VIB-KU Leuven Centre for Brain and Disease Research in Belgium, has been working with a team of scientists to help unravel a genetic immunodeficiency that makes some children more vulnerable to normally mild illnesses. The discovery should help doctors intervene earlier and prevent possible deaths.  Adrian also appeared recently on the ScienceMinds podcast – you can listen here:
  • Working with researchers in France, Dr Nick Huntington’s lab at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have found a way to prolong the life of natural killer cells, which have the capacity to help the body fight its own cancer.

And the University of Michigan’s Professor of Economics, Justin Wolfers (Harvard Menzies Scholar 1997) continues to enlighten people on the economic impacts of the Trump Presidency. Here is some recent coverage on Trumponomics and how the ‘nerds’ are reading the play.

Alumni stories

If you have a story for us about some of your research, a new job, a publication, an interesting case, a community project you are involved in or some other achievement, please let us know. Email or call Kate Nolan or AJ Epstein at any time. We love to hear about what the Menzies Scholars are doing and your alumni colleagues love reading about it too.

Menzies Scholar Spotlight

Prof Richard Epstein1984 Menzies Scholar in Medicine, Professor Richard Epstein MD PhD 
Professor Richard Epstein was the second ever recipient of the Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Scholarship to the UK, where he completed his PhD at Cambridge. Richard is now Professor of Medicine at UNSW (Conjoint) and an affiliated scientist with the Garvan Institute. He also works at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney as a Medical Oncologist and at The Kinghorn Cancer Centre in clinical research.

He took time out of his hectic schedule to answer a few questions:

What is the biggest challenge in your career right now? The health system in which I work has become overly defensive in the face of an ever more sensationalist media, which is itself under threat from online competitors.  Shrewd political leadership is needed to get healthcare off the back foot, and make patients the focus again.

How has the Menzies scholarship helped you? The opportunity to undertake a PhD in a renown UK institute with six Nobelists on staff, while also being invited to dine with larger-than-life public figures (such as Harold Wilson, Lord Home, Lord Grimmond, Sir Anthony Burney, and Mrs Thatcher) made me realise that great people also happen to be very human. This humbling insight has helped give me confidence when facing challenges.

Which book has influenced you most? Aldous Huxley’s 'Brave New World'.  I read it at age 14 and it still seems prescient. 

Who would you most like to meet, and why? Rupert Murdoch, an Australian who became arguably the world's most powerful businessman, to get his prediction as to how the next century of laissez-faire global economics will pan out for us all.

How do you define leadership? The ability to get other people to do what they otherwise would not have done, while believing that they actually came up with the idea(s) in the first place.

If you were Prime Minister of Australia, what would you do first? I would dissolve the state governments, extend all electoral terms to five years and create a publicly elected national Presidency (notwithstanding counterexamples) and unicameral House of Representatives, with the aim of weeding out factionalism and thus restoring visionary decision-making to our public life.

Registered Charity Tick

Registered Charity TickThe Menzies Foundation has taken on the Australian Charities and Not for profit Commission’s Registered Charity Tick, which you will see featuring on our website.

The tick is the ACNC’s way of allowing charitable organisations all over Australia to indicate they are appropriately registered and reporting with the government’s Charity regulator; to give donors a sense of confidence about the governance of philanthropic organisations.

The Menzies Foundation has adopted the new Registered Charity Tick branding. For more about how donations can help the Foundation run its programs, visit our web site.

Sri Lanka takes PM’s XI 2017

The Sri Lankan cricket team has taken out the 2017 Prime Minister’s XI T20 game at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

A lover of cricket, Sir Robert Menzies created the Prime Minister’s XI concept in 1951, selecting his own team to play against visiting international squads. To mark the history of the game, the Menzies Foundation presents the trophy and man of the match medallion and maintains a strong connection with the game.

2017 SriLanka Sport Min Greg Hunt and Prof Simon Maddocks

Menzies Foundation Chair, Professor Simon Maddocks, presented the man of the match award to Vikum Sanjaya for his 3/26 off four overs, while Minister for Health and Minister for Sport, Greg Hunt, presented the trophy to stand-in Sri Lankan captain, Upul Tharanga. Simon and Minister Hunt are pictured with Sri Lankan Sports Minister, the Hon J Pathirannehelage Dayasiri Padmakumara Jayasekara and Upul Tharanga.

Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Runil Wickremesinghe, attended the game and the Cricket Australia dinner, with a reception at Parliament House the night before, all forming part of the celebrations to commemorate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Menzies Institutes’ wrap

  • Menzies Health Institute Queensland researchers have made a breakthrough which will help those suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, with evidence that the disease is associated with a dysfunctional immune system.
  • ‘Oxygen needed, oxygen delivered: the research and technology helping premature babies’ is the theme for the Menzies Institute of Medical Research public talk in Hobart on 22 March. Research based in Tasmania combining the fields of neonatology and biomedical engineering is breaking new ground, with a trial under way that uses smart technology to help control the amount of oxygen delivered to premature babies, setting them on their way to breathing independently. The researchers will speak about their latest work and the potential impact.
  • Menzies School of Health Research malaria experts Professors Nick Anstey and Ric Price have been awarded funding to continue their research to prevent and treat malaria in the Asia-Pacific region. This funding comes on the back of completing the genome sequences of malaria parasites with their collaborators at QIMR Berghofer.

Throwback to Sir Robert

February 12 marked 58 years since Sir Robert Menzies opened the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne and we found this audio of his speech. The music bowl was a gift to the citizens of Melbourne from the Sidney Myer Charitable Trust. His comments on Sidney Myer are quite topical today:

Law scholars may also be interested to note that February 7 marked the anniversary of Sir Robert (back before he was a Sir) being appointed the youngest ever King’s Council in Victoria. It was 1929 and he was 34.

Linked in

Does your CV and LinkedIn profile list your Menzies scholarship or link to the Menzies Foundation LinkedIn page? It would be great for all of us if it did! #getsocial