Inspiring Health
Transforming Care

Meet our Researchers

Listen to the motivations behind some of our celebrated researchers

Researchers work within and with the community

With PhD students Maysaa Daher and Antonio Mendoza Diaz

Educating the community

With PhD students Gracie Micali and Ariana Kong

Collaboration of research inside the Institute

With PhD student Joseph William Po

The awards, including the prestigious Lady Mary Fairfax Distinguished Researcher Award, recognise the achievements of the Institute’s clinicians and researchers while celebrating the significant milestones achieved in inspiring better health and transforming the treatment and care of common medical diseases.

Lady (Mary) Fairfax AC, OBE Distinguished Researcher Award

This award recognises an individual with a long-standing career in significant research achievements contributing to the South Western Sydney Local Health District research output as evidenced by publications, grants and/or awards, as well as coordinating, supervising and mentoring higher degree students within this local health district.


Winner – Prof Evelyne De Leeuw, CHETRE

Evelyne joined the Institute in 2015 when she was appointed as Professor of Public Health and Director of the Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation (CHETRE). Most recently, CHETRE, under Evelyne’s leadership, was charged with the development of a vision of the new Western Sydney International Airport being a healthy airport and will be actively involved in the planning and evaluation of the Airport as it is developed. Evelyne is also the Research Director for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO), Healthy Cities Evaluation.

Early Career Researcher Award

This award acknowledges an individual who attained a PhD no more than six years ago, representing a significant contribution to a research field as evidenced by publications, grants and/or awards.


Winner – Dr Ben Smith, Cancer Pyscho-Oncology Research Group

Since his Ingham Institute appointment, Ben (left) has developed innovative research programs focused on improving the accessibility, equity and sustainability of high quality evidence-based cancer care. This year, Ben won the highly prestigious Clinical Oncology Society of Australia New Investigator in Psycho-Oncology Award and was appointed to the Editorial Board of the official global journal of the International Psycho-Oncology Society. Ben is also currently leading the ongoing implementation of Australia’s first truly multidisciplinary prostate cancer combined clinic, here in South West Sydney.

Excellence in Teaching Award

This award recognises an individual with a strong level of influence who has motivated and inspired students to learn. The recipient is committed to the development of learning in the South Western Sydney Local Health District and development of curriculum, resources and scholarly activities that have influenced and enhanced learning and teaching.


Winner – Kelsey-Dobell Brown, Clinical Trials

Kelsey established the Clinical Trials Support Unit which facilitates a framework for clinical trial governance, onsite Good Clinical Practice training, Standard Operating Procedures and staff orientation programs. In the last four years, Kelsey has trained over 260 high skilled local health district staff, provided initial orientation for over 30 Clinical trials coordinators and currently provides ongoing support for over 55 coordinators across the local health district.

Higher Degree Student Award

This award recognises a higher degree student that has demonstrated significant progress towards their degree, clinical significance of their topic of research, publications, innovations, development of research protocols and collaboration.


Winner – Marra Aghajani, Western Sydney University

Marra’s PhD project focusses on personalised patient treatment with advanced thyroid cancers. Her PhD research has combined clinical research and discovery science to address the role of new, immune-system activating treatment for thyroid cancer. Marra was a finalist in the American Thyroid Association Trainee Poster Contest in Washington DC in 2018 and presented at the World Congress on Thyroid Cancer in Rome 2019 and Boston 2017, highlighting the international interest in her research. In addition to her Bachelor Degree in Medical Research and her PhD, Marra will also complete her Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree in 2022.

Best Administration and Research Support Award

This award recognises a program administrative support staff member who has made extraordinary contributions to a research group or project.


Winner – Mary Knopp, CHETRE

Mary is described as the conscience and a sixth sense to the Institute’s Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation (CHETRE, pronounced CHET-TRA) research group. She brings a stability and sustainability, loyalty, cheerfulness, creativity and tenacity allowing the team to survive and thrive. Mary has been with CHETRE from its very beginning, more than twenty years and should be awarded the Support Person of the Decade… and beyond!

South West Sydney Research Collaborative Achievement Award

South West Sydney Research (SWSR) brings together health, research and health education entities in South West Sydney as a co-ordinated hub. Our members work together to improve the health of our local community and those beyond. Collaboration is fundamental to research quality and success. It occurs across disciplines, institutions and national and international boundaries. This award is to recognise and nurture collaborative research amongst our member organisations.


Winner – "Help my toddler’s not talking" Team

Toddler Communication Assessment Protocol (T-CAP) has been created and the team are now working to test the feasibility of the protocol with speech pathologists in their clinical practice.

Congratulations to this year’s SWSR Collaborative Achievement Award: “Help my toddler’s not talking” team. Accepted on behalf of the team by Katrina Tosi (right), Speech Pathology Head of Department, Primary and Community Health.

Tony Perich AM, The Perich Group

Tony Perich AM is the Joint Managing Director of Leppington Pastoral Company, Organic Fertilisers [Leppington], the Greenfields Development Company, Arrowvest, Narellan Town Centre and Dart West Development Ltd.

Tony has an outstanding record of service within the local community having previously served as President of Narellan Rotary, Chairman of the Fundraising Committee for the Spastic Centre’s Growthpoint Project in Liverpool, Vice-President of the Narellan Chamber of Commerce and President of the Dairy Research Foundation of the University of Sydney.

In addition Tony is an ongoing member of the Urban Taskforce, the Property Council of Australia and the Urban Development Institute of Australia.

He has enormous interest in all areas of medical research and development with a particular interest in cancer research.

Arnold Vitocco, Vitocco Enterprises

Arnold Vitocco is a local Macarthur resident and licensed builder. His family’s development company, Vitocco Entreprises, has been building and developing in the Liverpool and Macarthur region since the late 1950s. Notable developments by his family company include the Narellan Town Centre and Gregory Hills, a 2,500-lot subdivision and 43 hectares of employment zone.

Arnold is a member of Narellan Chamber of Commerce and is a committee member of the St Gregory’s College, Campbelltown. He was a Board Director of the South Western Sydney Area Health Service 1997-2003 and a committee member of the Health Research Foundation Sydney South West, which successfully helped raise $8 million.

Jodi Kennedy, General Manager,
Charitable Trusts and Philanthropy, Equity Trustees

Since 1888, Equity Trustees has helped Australians – and Australian charitable organisations realise their philanthropic vision. We’ve been working with the Ingham Institute since 2010.

Since this time, we have been deeply committed to growing and safeguarding the investments of the Institute, to ensure we maximise their ability to fund their critical work in the South West Sydney region.

Partnership is essential to effective philanthropy.

As one of Australia’s leading providers of philanthropic funds, we have developed significant expertise not just in investing charitable dollars, but in allocating them via granting programs. About half of our total granting annually is in health and medical research, so we bring a sensitivity to the issues in the medical research sector and importantly, the capacity to connect the Institute with our philanthropic clients, networks and funding sources.

Equity Trustees’ journey ahead is to step further into our role of responsible stewardship, and in fact to go beyond this. We see this as not only our responsibility, but also our duty to our clients, and to the wider community.

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