Home > Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Award

Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Award

The Centenary Institute is dedicated to supporting the medical research sector as a whole. For the past decade the Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards have promoted innovation and creativity in the sector and are committed to encouraging a domestic culture of scientific excellence.

This year 2019 the winner of the ‘In Memory of Neil Lawrence Prize’ at the
Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards was awarded Dr Simone Park from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection & Immunity at The University of Melbourne. For her work focused on better understanding how the immune system can be targeted and/or activated to treat disease including cancer.

Dr Elinor Hortle from the Centenary Institute has been awarded the $15,000 ‘Bayer Innovation Award’ after finishing in second place for her discovery that platelets (cells that help the body form clots to stop bleeding) have an active role in the development of tuberculosis (TB). This provided evidence that cheap, safe, and easily available antiplatelet drugs like aspirin might provide an effective treatment for TB.

The ‘Harvard Club of Australia Foundation Travel Prize’ worth $5,000 for the purpose of travelling to Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA to explore opportunities for collaboration, also went to Dr Elinor Hortle.

Separately, Dr Elise McGlashan from the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health – Monash University has been named winner of the ‘People’s Choice Award’, voted on by the general public and research community, for her work showing that simple changes to light exposure could dramatically increase the number of patients who benefit from firstline antidepressant medications.

The award focus on:


Australia’s spirited young post-doctoral scientists who are taking risks and tackling the big questions of medical research.


Australia’s most promising and inspiring young biomedical scientists.


Innovation and creativity – the essential ingredients in all human endeavour.


A domestic culture of brilliance in medical research.


Media Release

Download the 2019 Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Awards media release here.

“I feel thrilled and so grateful to have my ideas and research endorsed with this distinguished award. For an early-career researcher, seeing your work recognised and supported at this level is incredibly validating. I know that this opportunity will greatly advance not only my current research but also my future scientific career.”

Dr Simone Park, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection & Immunity at The University of Melbourne, winner of the 2019 In Memory of Neil Lawrence Prize.

“These awards are such an amazing opportunity for early career researchers. Life as a scientist comes with a lot of rejection, so it means the world to know that people are excited by our work and willing to support our ideas. This funding will enable me to keep pursuing my research, and honestly I can’t wait to get back in the lab and start spending it!”

Dr Elinor Hortle, Centenary Institute, winner of the 2019 Bayer Innovation Award and the Harvard Club of Australia Foundation Travel Award.

The 2019 finalists received

1st Prize

In Memory of Neil Lawrence Prize sponsored by Commonwealth Private

The winner of the In Memory of Neil Lawrence Prize will receive $30,000 to support their project and a perpetual Nick Mount hand blown glass trophy.

2nd Prize

Bayer Innovation Award  

The runner-up will receive $15,000 to continue to develop their research.

Travel Prize

Harvard Club of Australia Foundation

The recipient of this prize will be awarded $5,000 for the purpose of travelling to Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

People’s Choice Award

A People’s Choice Award will be voted on by the general public and research community and the successful applicant will be awarded a $2,000 prize.


The Prize’s stellar line-up of adjudicators comprises of some of the most distinguished and prestigious scientists around the world including members of the Centenary Institute Scientific Advisory Board.

Professor Ashley Bush

Director of the Oxidation Biology Unit at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

Professor Sir Marc Feldmann AC

Head, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, leads the Cytokine and Cellular Biology section, University of Oxford, UK.

Professor Ian Frazer AC

Translational Research Institute Ambassador and Chair of TRI Foundation Board, The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Queensland, AUS

Professor Michael Good AO

Institute of Glycomics, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Queensland, AUS.

Professor Michael W Parker

Director, Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute (Bio21 Institute), Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Melbourne and Head of Structural Biology ACRF Drug Discovery Centre, St. Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research.

Professor Jenny Stow

Group Leader, Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), The University of Queensland, AUS.

Professor Mathew Vadas AO

Executive Director, Centenary Institute, New South Wales, AUS.

Professor Jane Visvader

Joint Head, ACRF Cancer Biology and Stem Cells, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Victoria, AUS.


2018 – Dr Kate McArthur, Monash University* (Victoria)

Dr McArthur has utilised an imaging technique called lattice light-sheet microscopy (LLSM) and genetically engineered a system which has allowed her to document what exactly takes place during cell “suicide” – a process fundamental to the human body’s development. The discovery could have practical implications for a wide range of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

2017 – Dr James Hudson, University of Queensland*

Dr Hudson’s research has led to the development of human cardiac organoids that provide a representation of human heart tissue in a dish. Dr Hudson and his team will utilise these human cardiac organoids in further research to discover processes that can target the treatment of cardiac disease.

2016 – Dr Anne Rios, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute* (Victoria)

Dr Rios has developed 3D imaging technique to visualise entire breast tissues down to a single-cell level, providing an unprecedented view of this organ to assist in a greater understanding of the origins of cancer.

2015 – Dr Greg Ebert, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute* (Victoria)

Dr Ebert was recognised for his discovery and development of a new therapy to treat, and potentially eliminate, chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. 

2014 – Associate Professor Geoff Faulkner, Mater Research Institute* (Queensland)

Associate Professor Faulkner is investigating how a common, short piece of DNA affects the operation of the brain, paving the way to better understand a range of brain disorders and diseases such as haemophilia, muscular dystrophy and some forms of cancer.

2013 – Dr Connie Wong, Monash University* (Victoria)

Dr Wong investigated a way to prevent early deaths following stroke with fibre-based diet, by using innovative microscope techniques to determine how stroke weakens the immune system.

2012 – Dr Jian Yang, Diamantina Institute* (Queensland)

Dr Yang solved one of the great puzzles of human genetics – why the genes typically implicated in inherited diseases like schizophrenia, obesity and diabetes only account for a small amount of their heritability.

2011 – Dr Marie-Liesse Asselin-Labat, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research* (Victoria)

Dr Asselin-Labat was part of the team that discovered the breast stem cell. She subsequently worked to unravel how and why they contribute to the progression of breast cancer.

*Institute/University at time of Award

Thank you to our generous sponsors and supporters in 2019

Commonwealth Private


Lawrence Family
Our private individual philanthropists

For further information please contact Karen McBrien at email us or 1800 677 977