Celebrating International Women’s Day - Life as a researcher in 2022



Professor Fabienne Mackay

Professor Fabienne Mackay is the first female Director and CEO of QIMR Berghofer in its 76 year history. She is committed to addressing the disparity of research funding allocated to female researchers compared to male researchers. Last year, male researchers received $95 million more in funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) than female researchers. The NHMRC shares these concerns and is actively promoting discussions around these issues. Professor Mackay has recently been appointed as a member of the NHMRC Research Committee.

Dr Andrea Henden

Dr Andrea Henden is an early career cancer immunologist at QIMR Berghofer and the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. She combines a demanding clinical and research career with family life and says childcare responsibilities often fall to women, making it harder to compete in the research and funding environment. Dr Henden would like to see leave entitlements and flexible working arrangements encouraged for all parents and carers to help balance their responsibilities and careers. When it comes to leadership, she said women are more likely to underestimate their capacity and ability, and urges women to seize any opportunities.

Sheridan Helman, PhD student

Two men helped shape and inspire the medical research career of QIMR Berghofer’s Sheridan Helman (PhD student). The loss of her father to motor neurone disease, led her to a career in medical science. Her sights were set on neuroscience, until she met her mentor Associate Professor, David Frazer at QIMR Berghofer. His support, dedication and enthusiasm saw her career change direction to Molecular Nutrition. Sheridan’s research looks at the effects of iron supplements on pregnant women and infants.

Associate Professor Michelle Lupton

QIMR Berghofer’s Associate Professor Michelle Lupton has been awarded a $4 million grant to develop a test to predict the onset and progression of dementia. This project assembles the largest dementia research group in Australia where she will look at multiple genetic risk factors to predict a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life. Associate Professor Lupton hopes the research will lead to future clinical trials.

QIMR Berghofer held a morning tea on International Women’s Day to honour female scientists and staff at the Institute.

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