Early Career Research Award

This Award focuses on excellence in research relative to career opportunities, for researchers with up to 5 years of experience post-PhD. Since 2021, the ECR Award is for researchers with up to 10 years of experience post-PhD.

Prior to 2014, this Award was known as the Young Investigator Award.

2023 Daniel Priebbenow

Dan’s research focus is the discovery and development of new approaches to accelerate chemical synthesis and drug discovery. Dan’s research employs advanced synthetic technologies including photocatalysis and transition-metal catalysis to explore novel modes of chemical reactivity and develop:

  • More efficient and sustainable strategies to access existing therapeutics
  • New methods to access unique molecular scaffolds in the pursuit of novel therapeutics.

To date, Dan has published 38 peer-reviewed articles: 18 as first author and 12 as corresponding author. His work is routinely published in top-quartile, specialist and multidisciplinary journals including Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Chemical Science, Organic Letters and Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, accruing over 1550 citations.

Dan’s research excellence and innovation as an early career researcher have been widely recognised by the scientific community through a series of fellowships and awards including the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, an ARC DECRA Fellowship and the Athel Beckwith Lectureship Award from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute amounting to >$700,000 in funding.

2022 Emma van der Westhuizen

Emma van der Westhuizen’s research focus is to understand the mechanism of drug action at G protein-coupled receptors, in order to develop new treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders.

Emma has published 32 peer-reviewed articles: 17 as first author and 1 as co-corresponding author. Her work is published in top-quartile, specialist and multidisciplinary journals including Physiol Rev, Nature Chem Biol, Nature Comm, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA and J Med Chem, with over 2100 citations. 11 of Emma’s publications have >50 citations, with 6 of these where Emma is first author.

Emma has been awarded 7 competitive post-doctoral fellowships from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, Canadian Hypertension Society, Fonds de Recherche du Quebec, and the NHMRC, amounting to >$650,000 in funding. Emma contributes to the wider scientific community through her roles as the co-president of the MIPS EMCR committee, the Victorian Representative for the ASCEPT Drug Discovery SIG, the MIPS representative for the Monash Neuroscience Network EMCR subcommittee and through the DDB HDR executive committee.

2021 Roey Elnathan

Roey Elnathan’s research impact has underpinned fundamental and technological innovations in nanoneedles—a powerful technology for orchestrating intracellular delivery. His program has enabled an early translational solution for emerging cell-based cancer immunotherapies, allowing precise manipulation of the intracellular delivery of nucleic acids, proteins and gene-editing tools. His team has pioneered novel nanoneedle designs and fabrication paradigms—a transformative shift in engineering effective cellular nanoinjection—leading to articles in prestigious journals (Advanced Materials, Advanced Functional Materials, and JACS).

The impact of the innovation and its potential for commercialisation are demonstrated by an invited senior authorship for a Nature Protocol tutorial, the award of industry cash, and the embedding of the advance in three ARC ITT Centres.

2020 Anna Cifuentes-Rius

Anna Cifuentes-Rius is a current NHMRC Early Career Fellow who has shown her leadership by building a new multidisciplinary research program with a focus on both fundamental and applied nanomedicine. Her research focuses on the understanding of the structure-property relationship of bio-nano materials with the ultimate goal of improving current therapy and diagnostic approaches. Anna’s approach is collaborative and multi-disciplinary and she has demonstrated that she is an accomplished and creative emerging leader whose contribution to the nanomedicine field is increasingly recognised by her peers.

Anna has built a multidisciplinary track record of peer-reviewed articles in high-quality journals in the bio-nano space (ACS Nano, Advanced Functional Materials, Biomaterials). She has authored a total of 20 publications with > 420 citations (7 as first author and as 4 as co-corresponding), She is also a co-inventor on an international patent.

2019 Alisa Glukhova

Alisa Glukhova is a current ARC DECRA Fellows whohas shown strong leadership in building new skills within the structural biology group, with a recent focus on analytical processing of cryo-EM data.

Moreover, Alisa has recently overseen a project to solve the first active structure of a GPCR in complex with the Gi2 protein (Nature, co-corresponding author), and is part of the team that recently solved the structure of the CGRP receptor (co-author; in preparation, accepted for priority review by the Nature Editor following pre-submission enquiry).

Alisa has published 13 original research peer-reviewed publications: one as co-corresponding author in Nature, four first-author papers in Cell, Nature, Nature Comm. and J Med Chem and eight other publications in journals such as J. Biol Chem, Langmuir, Plos One and Cell Signal.

2018 Nghia Truong Phuoc

Nghia Truong Phuoc is a current ARC DECRA Fellow.  Nghia’s research focus is on the design and discovery of new nanostructured materials for use in pharmaceutical sciences.   Nghia has developed a number of new approaches to assemble nanoparticles with controlled shape and surface chemistry and has successfully demonstrated the first example wherein a pH responsive segment was successfully employed for the preparation of a variety of morphologies: spherical, wormlike, vesicular, flower-like and large compound vesicular. Nghia systematically addressed key limitations with the TIMT technique such as the requirement to use potentially toxic surfactants. Furthermore, he contributed more broadly to the potential use of nanoparticles in biomedical applications.

Nghia has published one book chapter and 36 publications in high quality journals (including Nature Chemistry and Nature Communications) with >1100 citations, an h-index of 21, m-index of 2.7 and Field-Weighted Citation Impact of 4.8.

2017 Laura Edgington-Mitchell

Dr Laura Edgington-Mitchell has developed versatile new chemical tools to measure protease activation in live animals, tissues, and cells. She is applying these tools to answer key questions about protease function during health and disease (including inflammatory diseases and cancer).

Edgington-Mitchell’s strong international reputation is evidenced by 27 publications in top journals (including Nature Medicine), seven grants (including an Early Career Fellowship and NHMRC Project Grant), and invitations to speak at national and international conferences, and numerous international collaborations across industrial, academic and clinical settings. She has recently been awarded a Grimwade Fellowship to establish an independent research laboratory at the Bio21 Institute of Molecular Science and Biotechnology in January 2018.

She has also been appointed as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the New York University College of Dentistry for her contributions to the study of proteases in oral cancer.
Read more about Laura's current research, publications and grants.

2016 Wye-Khay Fong

Dr Fong’s research centred on the physicochemical aspects of lipid-based liquid crystalline systems as ‘on-demand’ drug delivery vehicles, in particular, rendering them heat, enzymatic, pH and photo-responsive. She has been the first to demonstrate both NIR and temperature responsive drug delivery using this approach, and developed novel amphiphilic compounds for incorporation into the materials to render them stimuli responsive.

Dr Fong has 2 patents and published nine first author papers, a book chapter and six further minor author papers, with a total number of citations at 334.  Khay currently holds a Victorian Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and just returned from the first phase (2 years at ETH, Switzerland).

2015 TinaMarie Lieu

In her first five years of a researcher interested in the molecular mechanisms of the transmission of itch and pain, TinaMarie has published 15 major papers/reviews/book chapters (Gastroenterology, J Clinical Investigation).

2014 Karen Gregory

In her first five years of a researcher interested in translational neuropharmacology with specific insights into drug discovery for autism, schizophrenia and depression, Karen had published 25 major papers/reviews/book chapters (Science, J. Neurosci., J. Biol. Chem., Mol Pharm). Karen had also received a NHRMC Overseas Biomedical Postdoctoral training fellowship.
Read more about Karen's current research, publications and grants.

2013 Denise Wootten

In her first five years as a researcher interested in GPCR structure function studies with focus on Family B GPCRs and major interest in GLP-1 receptors and their signalling pathways and profiles, Denise Wootten had published 24 major papers/articles (PNAS, IBC, Mol Pharm, JPET, BJP).
Read more about Denise's current research, publications and grants.

2012 Michelle Halls (Joint Award)

In her first five years as a researcher interested in GPCR signalosomes and their role in cell signalling, Michelle Halls had published 28 major papers/articles (JBC, BJP, Mol Pharm, JPET, EMBO, FASEB J, PNAS). Michelle had also received a CJ Martin Fellowship and NHMRC New Investigator Project Grant as sole CI.
Read more about Michelle's research, publications and grants.

2012 Lauren May (Joint Award)

In her first five years as a researcher interested in the role of hypoxia on pharmacology of adenosine receptor-targeting ligands Lauren May had published 18 papers (PNAS, JPET, Mol Pharm, FASEB, BJP). She had also received a NHMRC postdoctoral fellowship and DECRA fellowship.
Read more about Lauren's research, publications and grants.

2011 J Robert Lane

In his first five years as a researcher interested in bitopic GPCR ligands Rob Lane had published 13 major papers including a breakthrough paper in Science reporting the crystal structure of Adenosine A2A GPCR. He had also received a VENI Research Fellowship from The Netherlands, Larkins Fellowship at Monash, and a NHMRC New Investigator Grant.
Read more about Rob's research, publications and grants.

2009 Joseph Nicolazzo (Joint Award)

In his first five years as a researcher interested in understanding the mechanistic factors facilitating drug transport across the blood brain barrier (BBB) Joe Nicolazzo had published 16 papers (J Pharm Sci) and received grant funding from the ANZ Charitable Trusts.
Read more about Joe's research, publications and grants.

2009 Johnson George (Joint Award)

In his first five years as a researcher interested particularly in community pharmacy involvement in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease, Johnson George had published 27 papers (Brit J Clin Pharmaco, Ann Pharmacother) and secured major grant funding from the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.
Read more about Johnson's research, publications and grants.

2007 Jennifer Short

In her first five years as a researcher interested in the function of neuromodulatory systems that influence addictive behaviours Jennifer Short had published nine high-quality papers (Neuroscience, J of Endocrinology). Jennifer juggles her research with a significant teaching commitment within the undergraduate program.
Read more about Jennifer's research, publications and grants.