Meet the 2021 Sisters of Mercy Medal Winners

08/Dec/2021     Mater GroupResearch

The end of the year provides a valuable time for us to reflect on what we have achieved and how, as individuals and as an organisation. Our mission as Mater Researchers is to discover new knowledge, translate it into practice and integrate the research outcomes into improved health care and education across Mater. This is importantly underpinned by the values of our Mercy founders, the Sisters of Mercy. The recent presentation of the Sisters of Mercy Medals at the Mater Research Showcase was an opportunity to celebrate some of our researchers who uphold those values and who have made outstanding contributions to the organisation throughout the year.

Brisbane Sister of Mercy and member of the Mater Misericordiae Limited Board, Sr Sandra Lupi RSM, presented the medals after sharing a special reminder of the Sisters who pioneered research at Mater from the early 1900’s onwards and particularly the Sisters who provided the inspiration for the medals.

The Sister Madonna Josey Medal for an individual who has made an notable contribution to the operations of Mater Research was presented to Governance Officer, Amanda Sands. Amanda joined Mater Research in February 2015 as an Administration Officer for the Research Governance team and fulfilled her ambition to become a Research Governance Officer in mid-2018. Since then, Amanda has helped Mater and external clinicians undertake research at Mater by assisting them to navigate the governance framework, requirements of state health departments and a Catholic health organisation. Amanda was nominated for her  approach to work and her passion for her role, which embody the Mercy values of compassion, dignity and integrity.

The Sister Michaeleen Ahern Medal was presented to the leader of Mater Research’s Developmental Molecular Genetics Group, Dr Sandy Richardson, for her significant contribution to Mater Research in the area of student supervision and for building a track record of high-quality performance relative to opportunity. The judges recognised Sandy’s excellent track record of supporting and collaborating with Higher Degree Research students. Sandy received multiple nominations for the award, and  while each nomination was unique, all provided a portrait of an outstanding mentor, who showed genuine care for the wellbeing of her students while also guiding them to achieve scholarship of the highest standard.

The Sister Regis Mary Dunne Medal was awarded to Dr Adam Ewing for making an outstanding research contribution throughout the year, relative to opportunity. Adam joined Mater Research in 2014 as a Research Fellow and was awarded an ARC DECRA fellowship in 2015. He was appointed as a Career Track Fellow in 2016 and promoted to Group Leader, establishing the Translational Bioinformatics Group,  in 2017. As a bioinformatics specialist Adam’s research outputs are impressive, with 41 publications, nearly 2500 citations, and a  record encompassing collaboration with a remarkable 400 scientists. Nominations for Adam highlighted his commitment to building the overall productivity and culture of the research environment at Mater through his generous, but humble, collaboration with other researchers.

The Sister Eileen Pollard Medal for an individual who has excelled in incorporating research into clinical care was awarded to Dr Lucy Burr. Lucy has worked at the Mater for 10 years, starting as a specialist trainee in respiratory medicine and then taking the opportunity to complete her PhD with Mater Research. She is currently Director of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at Mater Health and leads the Respiratory Clinical Trials Unit at Mater Research. In 2020, Lucy was awarded an Associate Professorship at The University of Queensland School of Medicine, supported by Mater. She contributes to maintaining respiratory research capability as the custodian of the David Serisier Respiratory Biobank and has actively contributed to Mater’s COVID-19 response effort, including the formation of a bio bank of samples from people who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered from COVID-19.

Congratulations to all the Medal winners. While the four Sisters who the awards were named for were pivotal in the development of Mater and research at Mater, it is gratifying to know that continuing generations of Mater Researchers and people are upholding so many of the values that helped build the institution.

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