Showcasing our year of achievements at Mater Research

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Mater Researchers were celebrated last week at the 2023 Mater Research Showcase, an annual event where we come together and reflect on the collective achievements of our researchers from the past year alongside the broader Mater community.  

We were honoured to be joined by keynote speaker Laureate Professor Emeritus Peter Doherty who shared insightful stories from his life – starting with his childhood in Brisbane and throughout his long and illustrious career in medical research – which has included a Nobel Prize and a research institute named in his honour. 

Mater Research Executive Director Professor Maher Gandhi said the Showcase provided a brilliant opportunity to take a moment to step back and reflect on the year.  

“I would like to express my pride in the achievements of all the staff and students from Mater Research,” Prof Gandhi said. 

“The 2023 Showcase was lively, entertaining and inspiring and I look forward to seeing what we achieve in 2024.” 

Lightning Talks were delivered by our 2023 Early Career Researcher Seeding Grant winners, Dr Uyen Pham, Glycation and Diabetes Compilations Research Group and Dr Dr Yuanhao Yang, Cognitive Health Genomics Research Group, who shared insights into the risk of developing diabetic kidney disease in young people and improving the knowledge of the onset and progression of Parkinson’s disease. 

Presentations about research with community impact shared insights into work on autism, COVID-19, Indigenous health and palliative care. Thank you to the speakers for these informative talks: 

Mater Research congratulates all award winners and finalists recognised at the Showcase:

  • Mater Research Special Award: Professor Janet Hardy, Palliative and Supportive Care Research Group and Cancer Program Leader 

Prof Janet Hardy is an internationally acclaimed clinical researcher in palliative care. She received the Mater Research Special Award for her outstanding achievement and contribution to the Mater Research Cancer Program, which she has led since 2015. 

Prof Hardy is focused on improving the symptom burden of patients with advanced disease, and her research interests revolve around the abuse of medications such as dexamethasone and opioids relating to symptom clusters, palliation of pain, dyspnoea and nausea/vomiting.   

  • Mater Research Early Career Researcher Prize: Dr Siobhan Loughnan, Senior Research Officer, Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence 

Dr Loughnan's research focuses on evidence-based care around stillbirth and neonatal death. 

  •  Dr Laurence Catley Clinical Research Student Prize: Dr Taylan Gurgenci, Mater Palliative Care Research Fellow 

Dr Gurgenci is currently completing his advanced training in palliative medicine and is undergoing his PhD. His research is investigating the uses of medicinal cannabis in advanced cancer.

  • Mater Research Higher Degree Research Student Prize (Biomedical): Cheng Xiang Foo, Infection Immunity and Metabolism Research 

Cheng commenced his PhD in 2020 and will submit his thesis in December. His PhD work co-developed a mouse adapted SARS-CoV-2 model. 


Betty McGrath Healthcare Delivery and Innovation and Education Seeding Grants, made possible through the generous support of Mater Foundation, these grants are designed to enhance research capability of Mater People and help clinicians, educators and researchers create new models of health service delivery, and new methods for the education of future clinicians.  

  • 2023 Betty McGrath Education Seeding Grant: Dr Sarah Janssens, Director of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mater Mothers’ Hospital 

Dr Janssens was awarded this grant for her project evaluating the impact of a focused education program for the implementation of the maternity team approach in clinical practice.    

  • 2023 Betty McGrath Education Seeding Grant: Dr Jasmine Antoine, Staff Specialist Neonatology, Mater Mothers' Hospital 

Dr Antoine was awarded this grant for her project titled, “Enhancing Trainee’s Technical and NOn-TEchnical Skills in Neonatal Intubation (ETT Notes)”. 

  • 2023 Betty McGrath Healthcare Delivery and Innovation Seeding Grant: Dr Beth Mah, Medical Director, Catherine’s House 

Dr Mah was awarded this grant for her project titled, “Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy in a Perinatal Mental Health Inpatient Unit setting: A mixed methods and feasibility study.”  

  • 2023 Betty McGrath Healthcare Delivery and Innovation Seeding Grant: Dr Honnie Gorry, Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Neurophysiologist, Mater 

Dr Gorry was awarded this grant for her feasibility study and pilot RCT of EEG Neurofeedback in a hospital setting.  

  • 2023 Betty McGrath Healthcare Delivery and Innovation Seeding Grant: Dr Neisha D’Silva, Senior Staff Specialist, Endocrinology at the Queensland Diabetes and Endocrine Centre (QDEC) 

Dr D’Silva was awarded this grant for her project evaluating novel eating disorder prevention program for young women with Type 1 diabetes.

  • 2023 Betty McGrath Healthcare Delivery and Innovation Seeding Grant: Associate Professor Liisa Laakso, Principal Research Fellow, Allied Health 

A/Prof Liisa Laakso was awarded this grant for her project using physical activity during chemotherapy to enhance recovery.

The Sisters of Mercy Medals recognise individuals who have made an outstanding contribution throughout the year in the areas of research output, student supervision, translating Mater Research research into clinical care and supporting Mater Research operations. The 2023 Mater Research Sister Medals were awarded to: 

  • Sister Regis Mary Dunne Medal: Dr Kylie Alexander, Stem Cell Biology Research Group 

Dr Alexander’s research focuses on understanding the pathogenesis of neurogenic heterotopic ossifications (NHO) following spinal cord injuries (SCI). She has made great advances in the field, with her most recent work in NHO leading to 10 research papers in top tier journals.

  • Sister Michaeleen Mary Ahern Medal:  Professor Brian Gabrielli, Smiling for Smiddy Cell Cycle Research  

Prof Gabrielli has achieved remarkable milestones in his research career, and on top of his academic track record, he has been an outstanding supervisor, contributing to the supervision of more than 30 undergraduate, Honours and Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students.

  • Sister Eileen Pollard Medal: Associate Professor Jake Begun, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Research and Director of Gastroenterology at Mater Hospital Brisbane. 

A/Prof Begun’s research focuses on translating research findings on the pathogenesis and treatment of IBD, mucosal immunology and the microbiome into the clinic. He is heavily involved in clinical research with numerous collaborations on national and international studies.    

  • Sister Madonna Josey Medal: Ruth Lee, Research Project Officer Mater Research Ethics and Governance 

Ruth has been a valuable member of the Mater Research Ethics and Governance team for the past six years. She is instrumental in her role as Compliance Officer, managing the ethics review process. 

We also acknowledge Mater Research’s Finance Manager Alice Yin, who was highly commended for the Sister Madonna Josey Medal. Alice is an integral member of Mater Research who has spent over four years managing and improving financial systems.


Thank you to Song Man Derek Oram Sandy, who performed a very poignant Welcome to Country, sharing with us naming origins of many Brisbane landmarks and links with First Nations People.

We also thank session chairs: 

  • Dr Ran Wang, Stem Cells and Cancer Research and Chronic and Integrated Care Research 

  •  Kaltin Ferguson, Pathology and Clinical Coordinator 

  • Associate Professor Lucy Burr. Chronic and Integrated Care Program Leaders and Respiratory and Infectious Diseases Research. 


Image: Mater Research Executive Director Professor Maher Gandhi and Laureate Professor Emeritus Peter Doherty


Image: Derek Oram Sandy



Image: Winners and speakers on stage



Image:  Professor Karen Mortiz, Professor Maher Gandhi, Emeritus Laureate Professor Peter Doherty, and Dr Carrie Hillyard AM.