Early and Mid-Career Researchers' committee

The early and mid-career researchers' (EMCR) committee promotes specialised programs, exchange of scientific ideas and new collaborations for the benefit of researchers in the faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. Each theme within Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences has representatives on the committee who meet regularly to discuss needs, current issues and feedback of early and mid-career researchers.

The EMCR committee aims to:

  • Provide support and assistance to researchers by organising specialised training programs and workshops.
  • Organise networking events to provide an opportunity for multi-disciplinary collaborations across themes.
  • Organise events focussed around research at MIPS and science outreach.

Meet the team

Committee Co-Chair and Social Media Manager - Dr Niloufar Ansari | Email | Twitter |

Niloufar is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr Angus Johnston group (D4), working on targeted nanodelivery systems for cancer and bone diseases. She completed her PhD at St Vincent's Institute (2018), working on bone biology and diseases. Before joining MIPS in 2019, she was working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Biomedical engineering department, The University of Melbourne. She is an Editor-in-Chief for Innovative Science Communication of HubLE, an online platform of International Federation of Musculoskeletal Research Societies (IFMRS) that supports EMCRs in the field of musculoskeletal research. Niloufar is passionate about supporting and encouraging interdisciplinary collaborations and knowledge sharing among EMCRs, and between institutions. She joined the EMCR committee in 2020, and has been involved in organising FastTrack program, and Mental Health Survey.

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Committee Co-Chair and Parents Representative - Dr Emma van der Westhuizen | Email | Twitter |

Emma is a research fellow in the Analytical and Structural Neuropharmacology lab (DDB) at Monash Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences. Emma completed her PhD in Molecular Pharmacology (Monash University, 2008) and has completed post-doctoral training in Biochemistry (University of Montreal, 2008-2013) and Analytical Pharmacology (Monash University, 2013-2019). Emma works to discover new small molecule drugs that target G protein-coupled receptors, for the treatment of neurodevelopmental diseases. Emma has been a member of the EMCR committee since 2021, helping to develop, organise and coordinate the committee’s FASTtrack sessions to aid career progression of post doctoral researchers within MIPS. Within her role in the EMCR committee, Emma is working towards increasing intra- and inter-institutional networking opportunities.

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Secretary - Dr Carlo Giannangelo | Email | Twitter |

Carlo is a research fellow in the Malaria Metabolomics and Proteomics group (D4) at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He completed his PhD in systems pharmacology in 2018. Carlo’s research applies advanced multi-omics (metabolomics and proteomics), analytical chemistry and biochemical techniques to investigate drug action in malaria parasites and facilitate the discovery of new antimalarial medicines. Additionally, he is interested in development of novel omics-based techniques for drug target identification. Carlo is keen to support EMCR development and encourage inter-department collaboration at MIPS. He joined the EMCR committee in 2022 in the role of secretary.

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Treasurer - Dr Neil Owens | Email |

Neil is the Research and Project Manager within the Faculty Research Office at Monash Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences. He has a PhD in cardiovascular neuroscience and has held grant funding from NHMRC and the Heart Foundation. He joined MIPS in Jan 2021, with over ten experience in research management. Neil has been Treasurer of the EMCR committee since 2021. He is keenly interested in the committee’s FASTtrack sessions to aid the career progression of post-doctoral researchers and position them for successful funding applications.

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Marketing Manager - Dr Nilushi Karunaratne | Email | Twitter |

Nilushi is an Early Career Academic at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (FPPS) at Monash University. She completed her PhD in 2016 within Drug Discovery Biology investigating novel aspects of cannabinoid receptor signalling for therapeutic uses in schizophrenia. Nilushi is currently a Lecturer within the FPPS-Education space with expertise in curriculum design and implementation and physiology and pharmacology undergraduate teaching. She also teaches, coordinates units and conducts education research. Her research interests include international student engagement, teamwork behaviour and building resilience. Within her academic role, Nilushi is also the Co-creator and Co-Lead of the PIES Engagement Program at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. This engagement program aims to foster a sense of belonging for international students at FPPS. Nilushi is also the Academic-Student Liaison Lead at the FPPS and has been a member of the EMCR committee since 2021 in the role of Social Media/Marketing Manager.

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Parents Group Representative (On Leave) - Dr Amanda Cross | Email | Twitter |

Amanda is a research fellow in dementia at the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety (CMUS), at Monash Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences. Amanda’s research interests primarily relate to medicine safety and quality use of medicines in older people, particularly those at risk of developing dementia or who are currently living with dementia. Amanda also continues to practice in a clinical role as a community pharmacist and home medication review pharmacist. Amanda has two young children and is the current Parkville parent’s representative. She joined the EMCR to support and advocate for researchers with children, to encourage networking across disciplines and to facilitate enhanced community engagement and translation of MIPS research.

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Industry and FASTtrack Program Coordinator Team Lead - Dr Enyuan Cao | Email | Twitter |

Enyuan is a postdoctoral research fellow in Chris Porter’s Laboratory (D4) at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.  Enyuan completed her PhD in 2019. Her current research investigates how mesenteric lymphatic dysfunction and its associated underlying mechanisms promote immune metabolic disease. In addition, she also develops potential therapeutic strategies to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus through the lymphatics and her work also has translational interest in the licensing of therapeutic technologies. Enyuan joined the EMCR committee in 2021 and has been involved in organising the FastTrack program.

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Industry and FASTtrack Program Coordinator - Dr Yaping (Crystal) Chen | Email |

Yaping is a research fellow in Prof. Nicolas H. Voelcker’s group (D4) at the MIPS. Her current research is mainly based at the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication in Clayton. Yaping gained her PhD (2017) in Immunology and Molecular Biology from the School of Biomedical Sciences, Monash University. She then undertook postdoctoral training in the interdisciplinary field of cellular nanobiotechnology, especially the development of novel, smart, and functional nano–bio interfaces for genetic modification and cellular immunotherapy. She has been closely working with industrial partners including ULVAC Inc. (Japan). Yaping joined the EMCR committee in 2022, and has been involved in organising the Industry and FastTrack program.

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Industry and FASTtrack Program Coordinator - Dr Jesse Mobbs | Email |

Jesse is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Analytical and Structural Neuropharmacology (ASNP) lab within the Drug Discovery Biology (DDB) theme at MIPS (2018 – present). He completed his PhD in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne (2016) and undertook initial postdoctoral training in the Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) at Monash University (2015 – 2018). Jesse’s current research focuses on the molecular characterisation of Class A G protein-coupled receptors and their role in neurological disorders, utilising techniques such as x-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy. Jesse joined the committee in 2022 in the role of Industry and FASTtrack Program Coordinator.

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Social Events and Networking Coordinator Team Lead - Dr Stephen Wood | Email |

Stephen received his BPharm(Hons) from Monash University in 2012, after which he worked in community pharmacy for 5 years. In 2021, Stephen completed his PhD studies in pharmacoepidemiology at Monash University’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety (CMUS), supervised by Dr. Jenni Ilomäki. His research focus was on the prescribing patterns and health outcomes of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) pharmacotherapies used in Australia. Stephen currently works as a postdoctoral researcher, analysing large administrative and hospital datasets at CMUS.

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Social Events and Networking Coordinator - Dr Samantha McNeill | Email | Twitter |

Sam is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Metabolic Receptor Biology (MRB) lab within the Drug Discovery Biology (DDB) at MIPS. She completed her PhD in 2021 within DDB focussing on new ways to target the adenosine A1 receptor to treat heart failure. Sam’s current research aims to understand on a molecular level how different agonists acting at class B G protein coupled receptors can have profoundly different signalling and in vivo profiles. Sam joined the committee in 2022 in the role of social events coordinator.

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Social Events and Networking Coordinator - Dr Benoit Smeuninx | Email | Twitter |

Benoit is a research fellow in the Cellular and Molecular Metabolism Laboratory (DDB) headed by Prof Febbraio at the Monash Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences. Benoit completed a PhD and 3-year postdoctoral training program in Molecular Metabolism at the University of Birmingham (UK) trying to elucidate the mechanisms underlying age-related muscle loss, also termed sarcopenia. Currently, Benoit’s research focusses on finding novel therapies to treat hepatocellular carcinoma, the primary cancer of the liver. Benoit has joined the EMCR committee in 2022 to help organise social events for researchers within MIPS.

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EMCR Committee Newsletter Editor in Chief - Dr Shane Hellyer | Email | Twitter |

Shane is a research fellow in the Endocrine and Neuropharmacology lab (DDB) at Monash Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences. Shane completed his PhD in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Otago (Dunedin. New Zealand) in 2015 and went on to work as a medical writer for a year, before pursuing postdoctoral training at MIPS in 2016. Shane's current work focuses on the role of G protein-coupled receptors in neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders, with a recent focus on the pathophysiology of spinocerebellar ataxia and other movement disorders. Shane is a new member of the EMCR committee in 2022, taking on the role of co-editor in chief of the new EMCR newsletter initiative.

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EMCR Committee Newsletter Editor in Chief - Dr Liam Koehn | Email | Twitter |

Liam is a postdoctoral fellow in A/Prof. Joseph Nicolazzo’s group (D4) at Monash Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS). He completed his PhD at Melbourne University (2020), researching the permeability of medications across the blood-brain barriers at different stages of development. Before joining MIPS in 2022, Liam worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Barbara Stonestreet’s laboratory at the Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and Brown University in the Unites Sates of America. In that role he investigated the efficacy and mechanism of action of a novel neuroprotective therapeutic candidate for treating neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. At MIPS Liam’s research analyses drug pharmacokinetics in models of glioblastoma and motor neurons disease. Liam joined the EMCR committee in 2022 where he undertook the role of Editor in Chief for the committee’s digital newsletter.

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DDB representative (On Leave) - Dr Arisbel Batista Gondin | Email | Twitter |

Arisbel completed a joint PhD program in Molecular Pharmacology and Drug Discovery in March 2019 at Monash University and The University of Nottingham (UK). As a postdoctoral researcher, she is now establishing technologies at MIPS for the development of single-domain antibodies (nanobodies). Nanobodies are extremely versatile tools that have proven to be useful in many research areas including structural biology, drug delivery and as biosensors for imaging. She joined the MIPS EMCR committee to drive and support gender equity initiatives. She is also passionate about science communication and outreach. You can find more about her on Twitter.

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Past committee members