An audience filled with sponsors, supporters, researchers and scientists burst into applause as the Ingham Institute announced the winners of three prestigious awards at medical research’s ‘night of nights’: the 3rd Annual Ingham Institute Awards Dinner event on Friday 27 November at the Liverpool Catholic Club.
Led by high-profile Master of Ceremonies ABC Health & Medical Reporter Sophie Scott, the event acknowledged and celebrated the tremendous efforts of Ingham Institute researchers for their monumental achievements over the calendar year. Three major awards were presented on the night including the Lady Mary Fairfax Distinguished Researcher Award, the Excellence in Teaching Award (sponsored by the South Western Sydney Local Health District – SWSLHD) and the Early Career Researcher (sponsored by Liverpool City Council), all of whom received $5000. The event also headlined with a special presentation by international special guest speaker Professor Dame Valerie Beral AC FRS, Professor of Cancer of Epidemiology from the University of Oxford. Professor Dame Valerie Beral is renowned globally for her work leading the ‘Million Women Study’, a major worldwide study that investigates the causes and effects of a range of diseases associated with ageing in women.
“We have some of Australia’s best talent working at the Ingham Institute on a broad range of different health condition affecting our community and Australia at large including cancer, early childhood disease, injury and mental health,” explained Professor Michael Barton OAM, Ingham Institute Research Director.
“The night served as a wonderful opportunity to reflect and celebrate our researchers’ achievements and give them the recognition they deserve for doing their bit to improve and save lives.”
The big winner on the night was UNSW Australia researcher Professor Afaf Girgis, the Lady Mary Fairfax Distinguished Researcher Award winner. Highly deserving of the top award, Professor Girgis’ illustrious research career spans over 25 years which has firmly embedded her as a leader in Psycho-Oncology, a specialist area of cancer research that investigates the psychological impact of cancer on patients and caregivers. Since 2010 Professor Girgis has published 131 peer reviewed papers covering a broad sub-set of topics in her area of expertise including the prevention and early detection of cancer, development and psychometric testing of measures to assess cancer patients’, caregivers’ and health care professionals’ unmet needs. She also led the development of ‘Coping-Together’, an Australian-first study targeted at couples adjusting to a recent diagnosis of cancer to give them vital coping strategies. Since her appointment at the Ingham Institute in 2011, Professor Girgis has been instrumental in shaping the Psycho-Oncology research group into being one of the key strengths of the cancer research stream at the Ingham Institute.
The worthy recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award, sponsored by the SWSLHD, was UNSW Australia researcher Associate Professor Therese Becker, the Institute’s Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) Program Leader. A/Prof Becker leads the Institute’s CTC program, a niche area of cancer research that the Ingham Institute are leading that uses Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs) found in the blood as a way to expose cancer early to improve patient treatment and survival. Apart from her high-level researcher role, she has also established herself as a strong teacher and mentor to Australia’s next generation cancer researchers coming up through the ranks and in the last five years has successfully supervised seven PhD students, one Masters student and two Honours students.