Faculty leadership and senior management
Professor Christina Mitchell
Academic Vice-President and Dean,
Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Professor Christina Mitchell graduated with a degree in Medicine from Melbourne University and undertook general physician and haematology training fellowships. She obtained a PhD from Monash University, concentrating on the anticoagulant activity of protein S, and graduated with a Fellowship from the Royal Australian College of Physicians and also a Fellowship in Pathology. She then undertook a 3 year post-doctoral fellowship at Washington University purifying phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-kinase) signal-terminating enzymes. Professor Mitchell returned to Australia as senior lecturer in Medicine at Monash University and Box Hill Hospital, she became Associate Professor soon after, while also conducting research on the newly emerging family of enzymes, inositol polyphosphate 5-phosphatases, negative regulators of PI3-kinase signalling. In addition, she held a position of Professor and Head of Biochemistry Department at Monash University (2000), until being promoted to Head of School of Biomedical Sciences (2006-2011). The major research direction of her group is to characterise the metabolic pathways that regulate phosphoinositide signalling, in particular PI 3-kinase signalling in human cancer. Professor Mitchell has practiced as a general physician from 1990 to 2000 and as a specialist haematologist from 1990 to 2011 in the Department of Haematology at Box Hill Hospital. She has a long commitment to the development and integration of the medical curriculum at Monash University.
Professor Mitchell has published over 100 papers and received numerous awards, including Monash University 50th Anniversary Research Award (2008) and Dean's Prize for Excellence in Research (2003). In addition, Professor Mitchell serves on editorial boards of Journal of Biological Chemistry and IUBMB Life.
Professor Mitchell was a member of the scientific committee for the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria (2001-2010), served on several NHMRC review panels for both project grants and fellowship applications and has been a member of the board of VESKI (Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation).
Professor Mitchell and her research team are the recipients of several National Health and Medical Research grants, an ARC grant and a Muscular Dystrophy Association of the USA grant. Her research laboratory comprises seven post-doctoral fellows, a research assistant, seven PhD students and three honours students.
Professor Ross Coppel
Senior Deputy Dean / Deputy Dean (Research)
Ross graduated in medicine in 1976 later working as an intern and house officer at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Bethnal Green Hospital, London. In 1980 he returned to Australia and commenced a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Postgraduate Scholarship at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI). On completion of his PhD, Ross worked as a research fellow at the WEHI in the fields of malaria and primary biliary cirrhosis. In 1994, Ross accepted a position with Monash University and took up a position as Professor of Microbiology within the Medicine Faculty and was Department Head until 1998.
Ross is a recipient of the Glaxo Award for Advanced Research in Infectious Diseases and was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Fellow. He has authored or co-authored more than 420 scientific publications, including one book and multiple book chapters. This included a chapter in the definitive 1998 American Society of Microbiology volume on malaria. He serves on the editorial board of Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, the top journal in the field of malaria and has reviewed for numerous journals including Nature, Science, Cell, J Cell Biol, Exp Parasitol and Acta Tropica. He is a named inventor on ten patents for inventions in malaria, primary biliary cirrhosis and novel antibiotics. In 1998, he became the first person to be appointed as an independent assessor to the Federal Court of Australia when he sat with the Justice in a major case involving a biotechnology patent.
He is an internationally recognised scientist for his work in the fields of malaria and primary biliary cirrhosis. He has received funding to support his research activities from both national and international agencies including the NHMRC, the ARC, the Wellcome Trust, the National Institutes of Health, the United States Agency for International Development, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the World Health Organization.
Ross was a member of the advisory committee that oversaw bioinformatics of the malaria genome project and he administered the malaria sequence database for the World Health Organization (WHO). He was a founder of the PlasmoDB consortium, a project to develop an organism-specific database that simplifies the analysis and exploitation of genomic sequence data by biologists.
Ross is currently Deputy Dean and Director of Research of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University and his laboratory the Coppel Lab is involved in research into malaria and tuberculosis infection. In November 2000, Ross and colleagues in the Faculties of Medicine and Information Technology, along with Agriculture Victoria (Plant Biotechnology Centre) and CSIRO Division of Mathematical and Information Sciences established the Victorian Bioinformatics Consortium of which he remains the Director.
Deputy Dean (External Relations)
As Deputy Dean External Relations, Sarah Newton is responsible for the strategic management of industry, government, philanthropic and clinical partner relationships for the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.
Before commencing her position in the Faculty, Sarah was Executive Director Research for the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research at Monash University where she directed strategic university initiatives as well as overseeing the $100 million operations of the Research portfolio. In this role Sarah also held the position of Director - Strategic Alliances, (Research) for the University with a strategic and leadership focus in leading engagement with industry, government and community organisations to establish large scale research initiatives. Prior to this Sarah was the Director of Industry Engagement where she managed the business development function and also led the conceptual development, negotiation and implementation of a number of significant new research institutes and centres.
Before joining Monash, Sarah held Senior Management positions in the Vocational Education Sector at Chisholm Institute of TAFE, and prior to that at Barton Institute. Sarah has implemented large scale research and educational projects in over 100 companies in Victoria, nationally and internationally and has also worked extensively with the Victorian and Federal Governments.
Nationally and Internationally Sarah has worked with governments from Korea, Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, as well as directing governance training on behalf of AusAID.
Professor Michelle Leech
Deputy Dean (MBBS)
As Deputy Dean (MBBS), Professor Michelle Leech is responsible for overseeing the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (medical) degree. This includes the Central medical program at Clayton, Gippsland graduate entry course, Malaysia Medical School and the Northern Victorian Rural Medical Education Network (NVRMEN), which oversees the Extended Rural Cohort.
Her work includes ensuring that the learning objectives and outcomes of all programs are aligned, as well as coordinating other academic and educational initiatives and endeavours related to MBBS.
Professor Michelle Leech has been a research fellow at Monash Centre for Inflammatory Diseases, Southern Clinical School and continues as a consultant physician and deputy director of Rheumatology at Monash Health. She is the chair of the Clinical examination Committee of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the medical director of Arthritis Australia.
She received her MBBS from Monash University, and after residency training in Internal Medicine at Prince Henry’s Hospital, Melbourne, completed her advanced physician training in Rheumatology and a PhD at the Monash University Centre for Inflammatory Diseases.
Her Research interests include cytokine biology, glucocorticoid action and cell cycle proteins in the context of Rheumatoid Arthritis pathogenesis.
Professor Wayne Hodgson
Deputy Dean (Education)
In his role of Deputy Dean (Education) Professor Hodgson, in conjunction with the Associate Dean (Learning & Teaching), is responsible for overseeing the Education Portfolio of the Faculty, which includes undergraduate and postgraduate coursework award courses delivered at Monash campuses in Australia, Malaysia and South Africa. Professor Hodgson is a past winner of the Faculty's Jubilee Teaching Prize and continues to teach pharmacology to undergraduate students. Professor Hodgson has a keen interest in research that examines the relationship between admissions criteria (e.g. ATAR, interviews, aptitude tests) and subsequent performance at university. He played a key role in the development and implementation of ePharmacology an on-line resource to facilitate the learning of students enrolled in medicine and other allied health courses.
Professor Hodgson is Chair of the UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test) Board and a member of the VCAA (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority) Board.
Professor Hodgson is an internationally renowned toxinologist responsible for pharmacologically characterising a wide range of spider, snake and marine venoms. He has published >140 papers including manuscripts in Nature, PNAS and Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. Professor Hodgson has a long-standing commitment to excellence in the training of Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students.
Professor Gail Risbridger
Deputy Dean (Special Projects)
Professor Gail P Risbridger is a NH&MRC Fellow, a career academic and researcher who has spent over 20 years understanding the endocrinology of male reproductive tract organs, especially the testis and prostate gland. After graduating from Monash University she worked in teaching departments at the University, until becoming a founding member of the Monash Institute of Medical Research (MIMR). She currently heads the Prostate and Breast Cancer Research Group in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology at Monash University and leads an internationally recognised research team of investigators working on prostate cancer and Andrology related projects. She currently holds the position of Deputy Dean – Special Projects and Chair for Research, Centres & Institutes.
She is one of Australia’s leading prostate cancer researchers, with particular interest in the biology of stromal-epithelial cell interactions in normal and tumour tissue using tissue recombination, animal and human specimens. She pioneered the use of stem cells for recombination studies combining stem cell biology with endocrinology.
She established academic and industry collaborations to build infrastructure to underpin the national research effort in Australian Prostate Cancer Research, including a National tissue bank with Victorian State Government informatics support. She has advisory roles in Andrology Australia and the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health. She has >167 publications, including original articles in general biomedical journals and in specialist journals of Endocrinology, Cell Biology, Urology, Pathology, Oncology & Environmental Sciences including publications in Nature Methods Nature Cancer Reviews, FASEB and American Journal of Pathology . Since 2003, she has received > $22.9 million in National and International (eg US Army DOD) grant funding related to prostate cancer. Her awards include an International Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, British Endocrine Society Asia-Oceania Medal and Honorary Life Member of Endocrine Society of Australia.
Professor Marilyn Baird
Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching)
In her role as Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching), Professor Marilyn Baird works alongside the Deputy Dean (Education) to ensure the quality of education in undergraduate and postgraduate courses throughout the health and biosciences areas of the Faculty.
Marilyn completed her radiography training in Liverpool, England. She worked as a radiographer in England, New Zealand and Australia achieving the position of a Chief Radiographer before taking up a lecturing position in radiography at RMIT in 1986 where she led the radiography stream until 1996. In 1998 Marilyn became the first Australian radiography academic to gain a PhD. Her investigation into the relationship between the experience of the clinical practicum and the radiography profession informed her creation of Australia's first integrated four year degree program in radiography and medical imaging which began at Monash University in 1998. At the same time she established what has now become the Department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences. Other successful curricular innovations include the introduction in 2002 of the off campus Graduate Diploma of Medical Ultrasound now part of an articulated Master of Medical Ultrasound and in 2003, Australia's first Graduate Entry Masters program in Radiation Therapy delivered at a national level. In 2004 she introduced an off campus articulated Master of Radiographic Practice. As well, since 2001 Marilyn has provided the educational framework for rural GPs to gain a use radiation licence to undertake limited radiographic services in the bush. Marilyn has conducted numerous reviews of academic programs both nationally and internationally and workshops addressing clinical supervision and assessment issues. In 2005 she was appointed by the Minister of Health to role of Chair of the Medical Radiation Technologists Registration Board of Victoria. From 2007 to its replacement by the new national Board July 1st 2012, Marilyn has been President of the Medical Radiation Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria.
In recognition of her achievements in 2001 she was the sole recipient of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences' Silver Jubilee Teaching Prize and in 2004 Marilyn was the sole recipient of the Vice-Chancellor's award for Teaching Excellence, Monash University. In 2005 she was the sole recipient of the Nicholas Outterside Medallion Medal awarded by the Australian Institute of Radiography for services to the profession.
Marilyn has a range of education-related research interests, in areas including clinical education, role substitution, clinical assessment and professional socialisation. Outcomes from her research directly inform her classroom teaching activity.
Professor Jennifer Wilkinson-Berka
Associate Dean (AMREP)
Professor Jennifer Wilkinson-Berka completed her PhD in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at The University of Melbourne, studying the role of hypertension in kidney disease. Jennifer was subsequently awarded the Sir Colin and Lady MacKenzie Fellowship in Comparative Anatomy to study the complications of diabetes. These studies lead to an interest in diabetic retinopathy, and in 1996, Jennifer established the Diabetic Retinopathy Laboratory in the Department of Physiology at The University of Melbourne.
In 2006, Jennifer moved to the Department of Immunology at the Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct (AMREP) at the Alfred Hospital in the Central Clinical School. Since 2006, Jennifer has been a Senior Research Fellow of the NHMRC, and in 2010 was appointed as Professor at Monash University. Jennifer is currently Deputy Head Research of the Department of Immunology and Mentorship Coordinator for Early Career Researchers at the Central Clinical School as well as a member of the AMREP scientific advisory committee. She has had previous roles as Chair of the AMREP animal users group and summer scholarship co-ordinator in the Central Clinical School. Jennifer has supervised over 25 Honours students and 9 PhD students and contributes to undergraduate teaching. Jennifer’s pre-clinical research has contributed to the impetus for clinical trials in diabetic retinopathy. She has published over 90 papers in the field of diabetic complications and is editor of a number of ophthalmological journals.
Jennifer’s laboratory comprises a group of enthusiastic post-doctoral researchers, PhD students and Honours students who are studying various aspects of retinopathy with the aim of finding better ways to reduce vision loss and blindness in patients with diabetes and in children with eye disorders. NHMRC, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Diabetes Australia support this research as well as various national and international pharmaceutical companies.
In her role as Associate Dean Research (AMREP), Professor Jennifer Wilkinson-Berka provides leadership on improving the success of researchers in obtaining fellowships and grants, with a particular interest in early career researchers.
Professor Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis
Associate Dean, Graduate Research
Professor Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis was appointed Associate Dean, Graduate Research, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, in March 2015. In this role she aims to focus on key aspects of the Monash Strategic Plan (2015-2020), and in particular on student outcomes (including retention and timely completions), talent (recruitment of high-performing graduate students from across the globe who are appropriately matched to supervisors/projects), international outreach (including PhD student exchange programs), and training (including delivery of high quality doctoral programs; opportunities for engagement with industry; and development of a diverse skill set for preparedness of a range of career pathways).
Professor Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis was awarded her PhD in 1997 at Monash University, where she began her career as a teaching and research academic. During her career she has held a significant number of academic leadership positions within the School of Psychological Sciences, including course convenor of the Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience Degree (2002-2009), chair of the Faculty’s Early Career Researcher Committee (2010-2011) and Director, Graduate Research (2012-March 2015).
Professor Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis is a world-leading cognitive neuroscientist with an established reputation in mapping selective impairments at a brain, cognitive, psychiatric and motor level in normal ageing and in neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Huntington’s disease and Friedreich ataxia. As Head of the Georgiou-Karistianis Experimental Neuropsychology Research Unit (ENRU) her lab uses state-of-the-art brain imaging methods (e.g., MRI, fMRI, DTI, TMS, EEG) and cognitive and motor tools to understand brain structure and function, as well as behaviour in heath and disease. Her significant discoveries in cognitive neuroscience have enhanced understanding of behavioural consequences of disease, enabled novel strategies for management of symptoms, identified sensitive biomarkers of disease progression for clinical trials, identified brain regions as potential targets for drug intervention, and have provided ground-breaking new insights on the functional operations of cortico-striatal and cortico-cerebellar circuits in the human brain. Her research has been funded through NHMRC project grants, ARC-Linkage grants, and international philanthropic organisations (based in the USA). The impact of her work is recognised in numerous key-note addresses at international conferences (e.g., World Congress of Huntington’s Disease 2007, 2009, 2011; CHDI Foundation Inc’s Annual HD Therapeutics Conference 2010, 2014; European Huntington’s Disease Network 2012) and invitations to serve on international working groups (i.e., National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (USA)). Her work is published widely, as evidenced by over 140 peer reviewed journal publications in high impact cognitive neuroscience journals. She has supervised 18 doctoral students to completion, with seven of these successful recipients of early career research fellowships supported by the NHMRC. She currently supervises three research fellows working in her lab and continues to supervise graduate research and honours students.
Professor Matthew Gillespie
Associate Dean (Research Strategy)
Trained in microbiology and immunology, Professor Matthew Gillespie is an internationally respected bone cell biologist and cancer researcher. Director of Prince Henry’s Institute 2008-2013, he has held high-level research administration roles in other leading research organisations, including as Associate Director of Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research. An active member of the Australian and global scientific communities, Professor Gillespie has held editorial roles including on the boards of Arthritis and Rheumatism, Endocrinology, Bone, and the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research and on research committees including the NHMRC Research Committee and NHMRC Audit Committee (current), and Cancer Council of Victoria. He was president of the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society (2011-2013), and president of the Australian Society for Medical Research (1999-2000).
Professor Gillespie's research has focused on bone physiology and cancer, with achievements including the identification of a number of osteoclast inhibiting factors to stop bone loss and increased understanding of the actions of cancer-derived factors and their role in cancer metastasis to the bone. His novel insights into the impact of T cell-derived cytokines on the formation and resorption of bone have particular relevance for individuals with osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis.
“The Faculty due to its size, breadth of activities and its geographic distribution permits it to play a dominant role in shaping the future global education, research and clinical agendas,” says Professor Gillespie. “These agendas will be influenced by our various interdisciplinary research environments, and the successful harnessing of clinical, educational and research platforms to underpin our staff.”
Professor Gillespie’s priorities for the Faculty include optimising current resources, investing in new technologies, and most importantly investing in our educators, researchers and clinicians to enable creative minds to flourish. “An aspirational goal I hope that for all in the Faculty - to be a visible participant on the world stage to advance science, education and clinical care,” adds Professor Gillespie.