Celebrating women in research

Awards and Achievements

To celebrate International Women’s Day we are excited to announce the ‘2017 HRI Career Re-start Grants’ recipients.

Congratulations to Dr Melissa Farnham and PhD student Elysse Filipe who have been announced as joint-recipients of the HRI Career Re-Start Grant.


The grant is to acknowledge and help overcome some of the barriers women in science face, in particular, the challenge to remain competitive while on maternity leave.

The grants total of $65,000 is open to HRI researchers who are pregnant, on maternity leave, or have returned in the last two years to the HRI. The grant, established by the HRI and NAB in 2016, aims to ensure female researchers who choose to have a family are given support to continue in their careers.

Dr Melissa Farnham, whose work focuses on how the brain controls breathing and blood pressure, is expecting her second baby in late June.

“Being a woman in science is hard enough and gets harder the higher up the academic ladder you climb,” she says. “There is never a good time in your career to have a break to have a family.”

“With my first child, my return was complicated by my daughter being born deaf in her right ear. The additional medical appointments and early intervention programs meant I was unable to return to work full-time. I am still expected to perform all of my pre-baby duties on a part-time schedule.”

While the majority (63%) of applicants for early career fellowships are women, this drops to just 11% at the most senior level.

“By the time you reach Professor level the field is heavily male dominated,” says Melissa. “These grants are vital to retain talented women in academia and research. The first few years of raising a family are the hardest and if you can support women through that period then the world will benefit in the future.”

Melissa will use the grant to continue her research and obtain data from new experiments – necessary to obtain government grant funding.

Elysse Filipe is in the final stages of her PhD focusing on finishing her lab work before her due date in late March. She is planning to finish writing her PhD over the next 12 months.

“The all important ‘publish or perish’ is a reality and taking off 9-12 months to have a baby can really impact on your scientific output,” says Elysse.

“I think it’s absolutely vital to have grants like this available for women. It really shouldn’t have to be a choice between having a career or having a family, and that’s how things currently stand in the scientific world. With these sorts of grants we are making that a thing of the past. While there is still a lot to be done, this is an important first step and I am very grateful to HRI for having made it possible.”


HRI is proud to support 


Listen to our inspiring 'Celebrating Executive women in business and science' panel discussion 

Influential women from across the business and science sectors recently gathered at the Heart Research Institute to celebrate the contributions of women to their fields, and shine a light on the barriers still faced by women.  Read more. 



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