University of Melbourne Excellence Awards won by MDHS staff

Congratulations to Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences staff who won prestigious University of Melbourne Excellence Awards this year.

Mr Warwick Padgham

Manager of Indigenous Student Programs, Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health
Strategic Priorities Awards –
Award for Excellence in Social Inclusion

Warwick Padgham won the University Award for Excellence in Social Inclusion for his incredible leadership and work on the Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health’s Indigenous PhD Familiarisation Program.

The award recognises initiatives that make an outstanding contribution towards achieving the University’s equity, diversity and social inclusion goals.

The annual PhD Familiarisation Program allows prospective Indigenous PhD students to explore their research ideas and gain a clearer understanding of what a doctorate involves.

“It’s a way to open the door to the University, to see what it is like, what support is available and talk to experts about their ideas … the ultimate goal is for them to enrol in a PhD here but if they enrol in a PhD somewhere else, we see that as a success as well,” says Mr Padgham.

Now in its fifth year, the program has engaged over 50 prospective Indigenous PhD students from across Australia and is having a transformative impact in the way future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers succeed within the University.

Through the Poche Centre’s support, the program has significantly increased Indigenous graduate student numbers both at the University of Melbourne and at other Australian universities. Because of the investment through initiatives such as the Familiarisation Program, the University of Melbourne is now one of the leading Australian universities in this space.

Dr Selina Parry

Senior Lecturer, Department of Physiotherapy
Teaching Awards ­–
David White Award for Teaching Excellence

Dr Selina Parry is a Senior Lecturer within the Department of Physiotherapy and leads the cardiorespiratory teaching team within the Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT) program.

The David White Award for Teaching Excellence was awarded to Dr Parry for bringing an innovative approach to teaching and learning within the DPT program, improving the quality of the student experience with immersive learning, peer teaching and mentoring opportunities within cardiorespiratory physiotherapy education worldwide.

“As a teacher it is extremely rewarding to see the excitement and interest in learning by providing immersive learning and extracurricular activities to extend students beyond their academic studies. I am very proud to work with amazing colleagues within physiotherapy and across the university to achieve this,” says Dr Parry.

Dr Parry has created opportunities beyond the course that motivate and inspire students to learn. Among many initiatives, she has successfully introduced a cross-year program for Doctor of Physiotherapy students, connecting the students via a one-day simulation workshop, implemented immersive learning with real-life clinical resources as well as founding a student-led cardiorespiratory special interest group that links students to clinicians, researchers and alumnus in the field. This facilitates inter-professional education and understanding of the global context of physiotherapy practice.

Dr Parry's teaching excellence and innovation has been recognised through Department (2015), School of Health Sciences (2017) and Faculty (2018) awards. She has recently been announced as a 2018 Citation Recipient in the Australian Awards for Teaching Excellence for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

“I feel very honoured to be the recipient of the David White Award for Teaching Excellence for 2019. The ability to foster student development by stimulating curiosity and independence in learning, both in the classroom and beyond, is something I am extremely passionate about.”

Dr Alison Morgan, Ms Prarthna Dayal, Dr Matthew Reeve, Professor Peter Annear, Dr Krishna Hort, Professor Barbara McPake, Professor Ajay Mahal and Katherine Gilbert

Nossal Institute for Global Health
Teaching Awards –
Norman Curry Award for Innovation and Excellence in Educational Programs

The Nossal Institute team, led by Alison Morgan, was recognised for their work in developing and delivering a blended learning course with UNICEF in health systems strengthening. Launching globally this month, the course will develop skills and confidence in policy makers, managers and clinicians working in health systems to analyse system problems and take decisive, evidence-based actions to strengthen their system.

The Norman Curry Award recognises excellence in programs, demonstrating distinctiveness, coherence and clarity of purpose; a positive influence on student learning and student engagement; breadth of impact; and concern for equity and diversity.

The award-winning course uses a complex adaptive systems approach in conceptualising health systems and developing actions to strengthen them, bringing together global health expertise and evidence in an engaging and interactive multimedia experience.

Learn more about the course here.

First row L–R: Dr Alison Morgan, Ms Prarthna Dayal, Dr Matthew Reeve, Prof Peter Annear
Second row L–R: Dr Krishna Hort, Prof Ajay Mahal, Ms Katherine Gilbert, Director of the Nossal Institute Prof Barbara McPake

Associate Professor Nicholas Opie, Associate Professor Thomas Oxley, Mr Gil Rind, Mr Stephen Ronayne, Dr Peter Yoo, Mr Amos Meltzer, Professor Anthony Burkitt, Dr Sam John, Professor David Grayden, Professor Clive May, Professor Peter Mitchell, Associate Professor Andrew Morokoff, Professor Bruce Campbell and Ms Christine Bird

Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and the Melbourne School of Engineering
Research Award –
Award for Excellence in Team-Based Research

The Vascular Bionics Laboratory, co-headed by Associate Professor Nicholas Opie and Associate Professor Thomas Oxley, won the award for Award for Excellence in Team-Based Research for their collaborative work on the world's first minimally invasive Brain-Machine Interface, the Stentrode™.

The Stentrode™ is a matchstick-sized medical device that can record and stimulate neural tissue from within a blood vessel next to the brain’s motor cortex, inserted in a minimally invasive procedure involving a small ‘keyhole’ incision in the neck. The Stentrode™ has the potential to restore independence to people suffering paralysis by enabling direct brain control of assistive technologies and other peripheral devices.

The Vascular Bionics Laboratory team have also shown the same device can not only ‘listen’ to brain signals, but also ‘talk back’ – delivering currents directly to targeted areas of the brain, known as ‘focal brain stimulation’. The results are published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Dr Nicholas Opie, the chief engineer behind the device, says the project needed a collaborative approach.

“Tapping into expertise across the University of Melbourne has been key to the Stentrode™ project’s success, with the team consisting of researchers from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Melbourne School of Engineering, Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Florey Institute and more.”

Dr Thomas Oxley, the founder of the technology, agrees.

“None of this would’ve happened if I wasn’t with the University of Melbourne. No other institution in the country would be able to pull a project like this off,” Dr Oxley says.

Read more about the Vascular Bionics Laboratory’s work here.