Emerging Researchers Committee

Our distinguished Emerging Researchers Committee (ERC) members represent a broad variety of geographical locations as well as research areas within the Lifespan Research Theme.

Members of the Lifespan ER Committee:

Kirsten Black

Associate Professor Kirsten Black - Chair
Kirsten is an Associate Professor and Joint Head of the Discipline of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Neonatology at the University of Sydney. She is also a clinical academic in the Department of Women’s Health and Neonatology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Her research interests focus on women’s sexual and reproductive health. She trained in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and specialised in reproductive and sexual health whilst in London. She completed a PhD in public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2008 with her research titled: Emergency contraception as a sexual health intervention: access and clinical outcomes through pharmacy and community provision.

[[anchor||Yuyan Chen

Dr Yuyan Chen
Yuyan graduated from the Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University in China with a Master’s Degree in Medicine in 1996 and then worked in the Shanghai No.1 Maternity and Child Care Hospital as a paediatrician during 1996-2000. Then she moved to Japan and started her research at the Haematology/Oncology Laboratory of the Department of Paediatrics in Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan. Her PhD study focused on investigating candidate genes involved in the pathogenesis of paediatric. In September 2007, Dr Chen was conferred her PhD degree by the University of Tokyo. Dr Chen continued her research in the same laboratory as a research fellow (2007-2008) and successfully identified the target oncogene anaplastic lymphoma kinase, ALK for neuroblastoma. Since April 2009, Dr Chen has joined the Molecular Oncology Group of the Children’s Cancer Research Unit (CCRU) at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Her main project is to investigate Tumor Protein D52 (TPD52) involvement in DNA damage repair. She is currently a Senior Research Officer within CCRU and has been appointed as Conjoint Senior Lecturer within the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney since January 2013. Dr Chen has been awarded an NHMRC Training Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-2013) and a 2011 Cancer Australia Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Grant co-funded by Cure Cancer. She has published 16 journal articles including 1 first-author and 1 co-author publications published in Nature. She has also contributed to 3 reviews/book chapters. Dr Chen is currently a committee member of Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR).

Donna Hartz

Donna is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow and Clinical Midwifery Advisor at the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Sydney. She is based in the clinical environment at Midwifery and Women’s Health Research Unit, the Royal Hospital for Women (RHW), Randwick. Donna completed her PhD in 2013 on the NHMRC funded randomised controlled trial of caseload midwifery care- the M@NGO project, the primary outcomes paper was published in the Lancet in 2013. She is very active in translational research and is the project midwife on the third revision of the Australian College of Midwives, National Midwifery Guidelines for Consultation and Referral. Donna remains clinically active and has 27 years experience as a clinician, educator/lecturer, midwife consultant and researcher and has worked at a variety of tertiary and metropolitan maternity services and universities in NSW during this time. She was also a hospital accredited independent and homebirth midwife in Newcastle from 1988-2000. In the last decade she has been involved in maternity service reform including the implementation and evaluation of midwifery models of care in particular caseload midwifery at the midwifery led service, Ryde Midwifery Group and the large caseload midwifery model at the RHW. Her current research projects include the evaluation of an urban Aboriginal community caseload model of care, sterile water injections for back pain in labour, amniotic fluid lactate as a marker of labour dystocia and the caseload midwifery model as an clinical learning environment for midwifery students.

Alison Hey-Cunningham

Dr Alison Hey-Cunningham
Alison is a research fellow in the Queen Elizabeth II Research Institute for Mothers and Infants in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Neonatology (within Central Clinical School). She completed her PhD on the role of the pelvic lymphatic system in endometriosis in 2011. Alison primarily works on endometriosis and the endometrium. In particular, her major research interests are in endometrial immunology and lymphatic and blood vasculature in terms of growth, structure, function, and changes during the menstrual cycle, in endometriosis and associated infertility. Her research aims to improve understanding of endometriosis, with the goal of contributing to improved management and a better quality of life for women affected by this common but complex disease.


Dr Jesse Jansen
Jesse is an NHMRC Early Career fellow within the Screening and Test Evaluation Program (STEP) at the Sydney School of Public Health. She is also a senior member of the Center for Medical Psychology and Evidence-Based Decision making (CEMPED). The main focus of her research is (shared) decision-making among older adults and their clinicians in different clinical areas, such as cardiovascular disease, oncology and more recently, deprescribing. She uses a range of research methods including video-observations, qualitative interviews, experimental studies and randomised controlled trials. The ultimate aim of her research is to optimize health communication and decision-making by developing and implementing practical interventions. Jesse has a MA in cognitive and biological psychology from the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands and a PhD in health psychology from Utrecht University and the Netherlands Institute of Health Services Research (NIVEL).

Loretta Lau

Dr Loretta Lau
Loretta is a clinician-scientist and Group Leader of the Neuroblastoma Research Group at the Children's Cancer Research Unit, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. She is also a senior lecturer at the Sydney Medical School. Loretta obtained her medical degree from the University of Sydney, followed by a Master of Medicine in Clinical Epidemiology. She completed her training in paediatric oncology at The Children's Hospital at Westmead and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Loretta then spent 6 years in Canada to pursue further clinical and research training in paediatric oncology at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, during which she completed a PhD focusing on neuroblastoma, a common childhood cancer. While in Toronto, she was awarded a Clinical Research Fellowship by the National Cancer Institute of Canada. Loretta returned to Sydney in 2008 to take up the Clinical Research Fellowship awarded by the Cancer Institute of NSW and to establish the Neuroblastoma Research Group at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Her main focus of research is telomere biology in neuroblastoma. Her research has been supported by the Cure Cancer Australia Foundation, Pablove Foundation (US), and Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundation. She is currently an NHMRC Early Career Fellow and holds an NHMRC project grant as chief investigator. Her goal as a clinician-scientist is to bridge the "gap" between scientific progress in the laboratory and better treatment at the bedside.

Dr Laura Lindsay
Laura is a lecturer in Anatomy and Histology (School of Medical Sciences) and works in the Anderson Stuart building in the Cell and Reproductive Biology Laboratory. She works part-time and is involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in this discipline. Her research interest centres around the mechanisms involved in uterine receptivity, that is the ability of the cells lining the uterus to allow a blastocyst to attach at a specific time to initiate implantation and placental formation. Laura’s PhD studied changes in fluid transporters (aqupaporins) in the rat uterus at the time of implantation and in response to ovarian hormones and found that the appearance of specific aquaporins led to a reduction in the amount and composition of fluid in the uterine lumen at the critical time of implantation. This reduction in fluid leads to very close apposition between the uterus and blastocyst which is an essential requirement for implantation. In her post-doctoral studies Laura became interested in the way that drugs used in controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (commonly used in IVF) affects the uterine environment; particularly the effects on uterine receptivity and implantation. Using a rat ovarian hyperstimulation (OH) model the team has shown that OH leads to an altered uterine environment compared to normal pregnancy. A better understanding of changes which occur in the uterine epithelial cells in this model would lead to a greater success rates in human IVF clinics, particularly in patients undergoing controlled ovarian hyperstimulation followed by fresh embryo transfer.

Brian Lyons

Dr Brian Lyons
Brian obtained his PhD in 2013 from Sydney University where he was based at the Save Sight Institute (Sydney Eye Hospital). His research focused on the age-related changes that occur in long-lived human proteins, such as those found in the lens and brain, and their implications for healthy ageing.
Prior to this he completed a BSc in Chemistry with Honours at the National University of Ireland Galway and spent two years working as a Research Chemist for the Sydney based R+D pharmaceutical company, Novogen Laboratories Pty Ltd, investigating novel oncology drugs. He is currently employed at the Save Sight Institute as a Postdoctoral Researcher within the Retinal Research Group and his main focus has been on diabetic retinopathy.

Katie Powell

Katie is a research officer in the Perinatal Research Group at the Kolling Institute of Medical Research. She completed her PhD in 2013 from Griffith University, Gold Coast. Her PhD was in the field of cancer immunology and specifically looked at improving the potency of a melanoma vaccine. Katie joined the Perinatal Research Group in 2012 and since then has been investigating the role of a protein in helping us to understand the link between oxidative stress and poor placentation that is associated with pre-eclampsia. Her research interests include trying to understand the molecular mechanisms driving pre-eclampsia and assisting in the development of early diagnostic tests.

Kevin Yin

Dr J Kevin Yin
Kevin is currently working at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and The University of Sydney. His work provides technical support for the development of immunisation policy in Australia, which is done mainly in conjunction with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI, a ministerial advisory group of the Australian Government Department of Health). Kevin has a broad interest in vaccinology, including the aspects of epidemiology, health economics, immunisation policy, vaccine safety. His doctorate evaluated the control measures (mainly vaccines) of infectious diseases through a combination epidemiology and health economics. In 2013, he attended the prestigious Advanced Course of Vaccinology (ADVAC). He was also awarded a Master of Public Health (Hons) in 2008 after his medical qualifications. In addition, he teaches on a regular basis, covering infectious disease control, vaccines, Microbiology, Pharmacology.