HMRI Director Prof Michael Nilsson

Professor Michael Nilsson

Professor Michael Nilsson - HMRI Director

In early 2013, while Australia basked in summer holiday mode, HMRI embarked upon a new strategic journey towards the implementation of translational research excellence in a global environment.

Following on the heels of major strategic reviews by both the Federal and NSW Governments, our plan outlined a five-year agenda to accelerate the delivery of targeted health outcomes into clinical care.

Leading Research for Life-Changing Results is both the core theme and a goal we have embraced with notable success these past 12 months.

‘Leading’ has two connotations. It reflects the fact HMRI researchers regularly show the way through ground-breaking findings across a raft of illnesses. HMRI as an organisation, meanwhile, is also ‘leading’ research in the sense of providing guidance, logistical structure and seed funding.

We’re helping to initiate conversations and foster collaborations between basic scientists, clinicians and public health professionals, back and forth along the translational cycle of research. We do this, of course, with the clear objective of delivering ‘life-changing results’ for the people of our region and nation, as well as communities throughout the world.

The 2013 Awards for Research Excellence saw a record $1.4 million in grant funding being awarded and acknowledged while two of our rising research stars – Researcher of the Year Professor Phil Hansbro and Early Career Researcher of the Year Associate Professor Vanessa McDonald – came to the fore after flourishing within the HMRI framework.

Advancements were seen across the translational spectrum.

In the clinical sphere a HMRI trial of a new clot-busting therapy, which previously yielded rapid and remarkable treatment benefits for stroke victims, has now been expanded internationally at an estimated cost of $5 million.

A lab-based study looking at the body’s inflammatory response to injury found four independent predictors of Multiple Organ Failure, a leading cause of death among trauma patients. Researchers identified naturally occurring mitochondrial DNA that act as a Trojan horse when cells die, with vital implications for hospital treatment.

A community-based asthma management study that halved asthma attacks in pregnant women was also found to have a significant flow-on effect, yielding a 90 per cent postnatal reduction in bronchiolitis and croup episodes among their children.

At the same time, two HMRI-aligned public health programs were honoured in the inaugural National Preventive Health Awards – the Workplace POWER (Preventing Obesity Without Eating like Rabbits) program and the childhood program Good for Kids Good for Life.

These are just a few of many examples where HMRI researchers have found global solutions for local problems. Today’s good news, hopefully, is tomorrow’s better news.

Professor Michael Nilsson, MD PhD

Director, HMRI
Burges Professor of Medical Science

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