Health-tech innovator named Australia’s top woman in design

Monash University’s Associate Professor Leah Heiss has been awarded the 2022 Australian Women in Design Award at this year’s Good Design Awards for her work across wearable health technologies and healthcare co-design, most recently with the World Health Organisation.

Heiss presenting at WHO

Associate Professor Leah Heiss

Associate Professor Heiss says she was honoured to receive the award that seeks to address the gender imbalance within leadership roles in the design industry.

“I am passionate about bringing my design skills to the biggest challenges we face as citizens, particularly around equity and access to good healthcare,” she said.

“Design can provide power and agency to people, a voice and a choice in how products and systems are created, what they look and feel like and how they function.”

Associate Professor Heiss is currently working on redesigning the experience of healthcare in Australia in the Future Hospital Future Health Initiative. She is working with the World Health Organisation to improve the uptake and implementation of WHO guidelines, particularly in developing nations. Her wearable health technologies include a jewel-like hearing aid, jewellery to administer insulin, cardiac monitoring jewellery, swallowable devices to detect disease and emergency jewellery for times of medical crisis.

Heiss present

The Smart Heart necklace, a cardiac monitor, Leah Heiss, Keely Macarow and Paul Beckett, 2016

Over her career Associate Professor Heiss’s design work has received 6 Australian Good Design Awards, including the 2018 Good Design Award of the Year. Her work is held in the heritage collections of Museums Victoria and the Museum of Arts and Sciences (Powerhouse), Sydney.

In her role as the Monash University Eva and Marc Besen International Research Chair in Design, Associate Professor Heiss strengthens the design capability in interdisciplinary projects across the University, both nationally and internationally.

Professor Shane Murray, Dean of Monash Art, Design and Architecture, said the award is a wonderful recognition of Associate Professor Heiss' leadership in shaping the world's design future.

“Leah's work is a testament to our Faculty's vision to respond to the major challenges facing the world today, leading major projects that unite industry and technology through design research,” he said.

“Her experience and work in developing innovative health design solutions across devices, services and experiences will continue to further our impact through design."