University of Newcastle: HMRI announces new Institute Director

Professor Kay-Lambkin is a registered Psychologist and an award-winning mental health researcher with over 20 years’ experience in the University sector. Her innovative work on the comorbidity of mental health and drug use disorders has received more than $30 million in successful research funding and led to new treatments and better outcomes for patients.

In addition to her impressive international research credentials Professor Kay- Lambkin also has over 10 years research leadership experience, most recently holding the positions of Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation and Head of School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle.

As chair of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Women in Health Science Committee and Member of the NHMRC Research Committee, Professor Kay-Lambkin brings excellent knowledge of the research funding landscape to the position.

HMRI Chair Kyle Loades said he is delighted with the appointment of Professor Kay- Lambkin and that a local person was the clear standout from a strong international field of applicants.

“Frances is a leading national and international research professional,” Mr Loades said. “To have such a strong candidate who is also so well known to HMRI, and the Hunter region, is an amazing win for us all.”

“HMRI’s purpose is to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities and Professor Kay-Lambkin has embodied this mission throughout her stellar career as a researcher and advocate for mental health and research,”

Professor Kay-Lambkin said that she feels privileged to take on the leadership role of HMRI.

“Having spent many years as a HMRI researcher I know how important HMRI is to Newcastle and the Hunter and our communities. Our work delivers high quality research that results in real world health benefits in real time,” Professor Kay- Lambkin said.

“My time outside our region has demonstrated to me that the impact of HMRI is global, and it has a stellar reputation across Australia and internationally.”

Professor Kay-Lambkin sees her appointment as an opportunity to pay forward the investment and support this region has shown her over her career.

“I have experienced first-hand the transformative effect that donors have on the research we do,” Professor Kay-Lambkin said.

“A HMRI donor changed the course of my own work at a time when I was considering a career change, so it is extra special that I am now in a position to work with the many supporters and donors of HMRI and bring more of those opportunities to our researchers.”

“COVID-19 has taught us the value of research in responding to the biggest health challenges of our time. We need to work together to retain and attract the brightest minds in medical research to our region to ensure that we all continue to grow and deliver world-class research and meaningful health impacts into the future.”

Professor Kay-Lambkin will officially commence her new role in late May taking over from current Director Professor Mike Calford.

“The board and I are so grateful to Mike for his outstanding leadership of HMRI during the unprecedented challenges of the ongoing pandemic,” Mr Loades said.

“Mike leaves HMRI with an incredible legacy of achievements and in an even stronger position than when he took the reins. I know that Mike is keen to enjoy his well-earned semi-retirement and his other commitments to education and research and we all wish him the best of luck for the future.”

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