Fellowship creates leaders of the future

Monday 17 June 2024

Promoting ongoing research excellence at Mater Research is only possible by investing in, developing and retaining the next generation of research leaders. In 2024, Mater Research introduced a new funding scheme—the Future Leaders Fellowship—to support mid-career researchers in leading aspirational and impactful research. Mater Research is delighted to announce the inaugural fellowship was awarded to Dr Kavita Bisht, a Senior Research Officer in the Stem Cell Biology Research Group. 

Dr Bisht, an emerging leader in her field, will receive $300,000 over two years, which she will put towards her own salary, as well as direct research expenses and costs associated with conference attendance. 

After being awarded her PhD in 2014, Dr Bisht joined Mater Research in 2016. During this time, she has led projects exploring the biology of blood stem cells, identifying methods to improve stem cell transplantation, and understanding the mechanisms responsible for anaemia of inflammation.  

Under the mentorship of Professor Jean-Pierre Levesque, Dr Bisht has successfully published 13 papers in the last four years and has been instrumental in establishing a clinical collaboration between her research group and gastroenterologists at Mater Hospital Brisbane. 

“This collaboration has enabled me to conceive and design my proposed research project on understanding pathophysiology of anaemia in inflammatory bowel diseases. It will help me reach my ultimate goal, which is to translate my findings into future clinical trials,” Dr Bisht said.  

Dr Bisht has also made valuable contributions through service to Mater Research, including being current co-chair of the Mater Research Early-Mid Career Research Committee, that has delivered important opportunities for peer networking, support and professional development, and extracurricular learnings.  

As a mother of two small children, Dr Bisht has experienced substantial career interruption due to periods of maternity leave, her reduced full time equivalent (FTE) and her ongoing carer responsibilities.  

She said that while on paper, this career interruption has only been three years, in reality, it’s a lot more.  

Dr Bisht said she is honoured and delighted to be the inaugural recipient of the Mater Research Future Leaders Fellowship.  

“I’m so grateful to Mater Research for this fellowship. It will help substantially in alleviating the invisible workload of being both a mum and a researcher—a 24/7 job—and help with my career progression.” 

“It will also massively improve my CV and will give me the push to be more competitive with my funding applications to continue my important research.” 

In August, Dr Bisht will be travelling to attend the International Society of Hematology meeting, the leading conference in the field, that she hasn’t had opportunity to attend since having children.  

“It will be the first time I’ve been to such a long conference since becoming a mother.”  

Dr Bisht said that she looks forward to the opportunities this fellowship will bring her.  

Mater Research Executive Director, Professor Maher Gandhi said that Dr Bisht is a high performing member of the Stem Cell Biology Research Group, and he looks forward to the impactful research that she will be able to achieve with the help of this fellowship. 

“At Mater Research, we have some of the best researchers in the world, and it brings me great joy to award fellowships like this to help our researchers make life changing scientific discoveries,” Prof Gandhi said.