Grants put women at the forefront of paediatric health research

Four outstanding Queensland women have been awarded almost $200,000 by the Children’s Hospital Foundation to help work wonders in the field of paediatric research.

The Mary McConnel grant program, first launched on International Women’s Day in 2018, aims to support women researchers to increase delivery and dissemination of research, thereby boosting the researcher’s track record and competitiveness for future funding.

In addition to the financial assistance, the successful grant recipients will receive one-on-one mentoring support from a leading woman professional in leadership.

The recipients awarded funding from the 2020 grant round are:

• Dr Cassy Spiller (University of Queensland) – Novel detection methods for adolescent germ cell cancers
• Dr Lisa Akison (University of Queensland) – Choline as an intervention to prevent offspring disease following periconceptional alcohol exposure
• Jessica Schults (Griffith University) – First do no harm, recognising hospital-acquired complications in paediatric critical care
• Dr Joanne George (University of Queensland) – Advancing early detection biomarkers in infants at risk of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes and cerebral palsy following early brain injury

These researchers were celebrated today at an online networking event chaired by Professor Sharon Mickan. They were joined online by members of the selection panel, including Women in STEMM Australia co-founder, Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea AM, as well as mentors and alumni in the growing network.

Children’s Hospital Foundation CEO, Rosie Simpson, said the Foundation was so proud to support female clinicians and researchers who work tirelessly to ensure a brighter future for sick kids. “Currently, women only account for less than 20 per cent of senior academics in Australian universities and research institutes,” Ms Simpson said.

“Our Mary McConnel Career Boost Program aims to close the significant academic gender gap and improve health outcomes for children and young people across the country.”
“This program has been such an enormous success, and we are thrilled to have awarded four grants to female researchers in 2020 in areas ranging from paediatric intensive care, childhood cancer, neurological damage and prenatal disease.”

The Mary McConnel Boost Program for Women in Paediatric Research program honours Queenslander Mary McConnel, who worked hard for 15 years to raise money to establish the State’s first children’s hospital in 1878.

Women in STEMM Australia congratulates all recipients! It is excellent to see their research excellence and leadership appropriately recognised and rewarded.

To donate to Children’s Hospital Foundation, visit

Media contact:
Lucinda Bayly, Media & Communications Manager at Children’s Hospital Foundation (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *