MBI Board Members

Bruce Robinson

Bruce Robinson

Chairman Professor Bruce Robinson

Professor Robinson is an Endocrinologist and Head of the Cancer Genetics Laboratory in the Kolling Institute at Royal North Shore Hospital. He was appointed Dean in March 2007. Professor Robinson graduated from the University of Sydney in 1980 and then undertook studies for a Master of Science degree. His further molecular research work was performed at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School from 1986-1989 and he was awarded a Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Sydney in 1990. He has developed and led the Cancer Genetics Laboratory since 1990 and has supervised over 30 doctoral and masters students working on the genetic basis for tumour formation and gene therapy. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles. In 2003, Professor Robinson was awarded the Daiichi Prize by the Asia and Oceania Thyroid Association for this work on the pathogenesis of thyroid cancer.

Prior to his current University appointment, Professor Robinson was Associate Dean (International) in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney and was Head of the Division of Medicine at the Royal North Shore Hospital from 1998-2006. He also served on the Council of the Endocrine Society of Australia from 2001-2005. He is on the Editorial Board of the International journals ‘Nature, Clinical Practice and Endocrinology’ and ‘Thyroid’. Professor Robinson has a strong interest in furthering relations between Australia and Asia and he is the Founding Chairman of Hoc Mai, the Australia-Vietnam Medical Foundation, which sponsors and supports medical nursing, allied health and scientific exchanges between Australia and Vietnam. He was awarded the People’s Health Medal by the Vietnamese Government in 2008. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Ava Lawler

Ava Lawler

Board Member Ava Lawler

Ava has had a 24 year global career in communications spanning the Australian, Chinese, Asia Pacific, UK and South African markets. Throughout this period she has been providing reputation and communications consultancy to organisations across multiple industries and markets . Her consultancy focuses on corporate positioning and brand awareness, change management, integrated communications and issues management. Her client campaigns have included the Bayer, Commonwealth Bank, IBM, Microsoft, Nokia, Telstra and Zoetis.

Ava is currently the managing director of Weber Shandwick in Australia. Within this role she is responsible for the financial and strategic performance of the company’s Australian operations. Ava also provides senior level communications counsel to clients across the healthcare, financial services, consumer goods and services, technology and government sectors.

Over nineteen years of Ava’s career has been with Text 100 (including its sister company, AUGUST.ONE Communications) where she was on the Global Executive Leadership Team serving as its Global Consultancy Director. She led the firm’s transformation to become a leader in integrated digital communications and consulted directly to the CEO on business strategy and talent management.

Ava has spent more than 13 years establishing and managing businesses either locally or across Asia Pacific. In Australia she set-up two PR firms for the Next Fifteen Group (Text 100 and AUGUST.ONE Communications), both of which experienced significantly high growth under Ava’s leadership.


Ben Marais

Ben Marais

Board Member Associate Professor Ben Marais

Ben Marais trained as a paediatrician in Cape Town, South Africa. He joined the University of Sydney in 2011 and is currently the Deputy Director, MBI. He works as an Infectious Diseases consultant at the Children's Hospital Westmead. His primary research interest is tuberculosis (epidemiology, strain diversity/evolution, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, drug resistance) with a special focus on how children are affected by the global epidemic. He is CIB on a recently awarded NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence for: Tuberculosis Control: from Discovery to Public Health Policy and Practice. He has a keen interest in international child health; including HIV, TB/HIV, paediatric and emerging infections in general, as well as operations and cross-disciplinary research. An area of that he would like to develop is the measurement of holistic health outcomes that acknowledges the need to maintain biodiversity and ecological resilience, which is essential for optimal and sustainable health of our planet – in keeping with the “One World – One Health” concept.


Peter McMinn

Peter McMinn

Board Member Professor Peter McMinn

Professor Peter McMinn was appointed to the Bosch Chair of Infectious Diseases at the University of Sydney in 2007. After graduating in medicine from the University of Sydney (1982), Peter commenced working in indigenous health in the Northern Territory followed by periods working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Alice Springs and in general practice in Hobart. In 1989, he postgraduate training as a clinical microbiologist at the Institute for Medical and Veterinary Science in Adelaide, followed by four years of research training at the Australian National University, where he studied the pathogenesis of flaviviral encephalitis under the supervision of Dr Lynn Dalgarno. In 1996, Peter moved to Perth to take up a Senior Lectureship in Virology at the University of Western Australia with a conjoint position as Consultant Microbiologist at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children. Throughout his career, Peter has maintained a strong research and clinical interest in viral encephalitis. He played an early and prominent role in establishing surveillance and public health responses to the emergence of enteroviral encephalitis in Southeast Asia in 1997. Peter has developed extensive research and teaching collaborations in Southeast Asia and has spent long periods in Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, the Philippines and Vietnam training local microbiologists in communicable and vaccine-preventable disease surveillance and research.


Stephen Simpson

Stephen Simpson

Board Member Professor Stephen Simpson

Professor Stephen Simpson is Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre and Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney. The Charles Perkins Centre is a new $500 million cross-faculty initiative at the University of Sydney. Its mission is to research and implement cross-disciplinary approaches to alleviating the individual and societal burden of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Stephen returned to Australia in 2005 as an ARC Federation Fellow after 22 years at Oxford. Before that he had undertaken his PhD at the University of London, and his undergraduate degree and Honours at the University of Queensland.

Together with colleague David Raubenheimer, Stephen developed an integrative modelling framework for nutrition, the Geometric Framework, which was devised and tested using insects but has since been applied to a wide range of organisms, from slime moulds to humans, and problems, from aquaculture and conservation biology to the dietary causes of human obesity and ageing. A synthesis of this body of work can be found in The Nature of Nutrition: a Unifying Framework from Animal Adaptation to Human Obesity, published by Princeton University Press in 2012. In addition to nutritional biology, Stephen’s research on locusts has led to an understanding of locust swarming that links chemical events in the brains of individual insects to landscape-scale mass migration.

Stephen has been Visiting Professor at Oxford, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the University of Arizona, and Guest Professor at the University of Basel. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, in 2008 he was awarded the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research, in 2009 he was named NSW Scientist of the Year, and in 2010 he was named as the Wigglesworth Medallist by the Royal Entomological Society of London. In 2013 Stephen was elected Fellow of the Royal Society, and awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal Entomological Society. He was also co-writer, narrator and presenter of the four-part documentary Great Southern Land, for ABC TV, which was aired to critical and viewer acclaim in September 2012.


Tania Sorrell

Tania Sorrell

Board Meeting Professor Tania Sorrell

Professor Tania Sorrell is Director, MBI and the Professor of Clinical Infectious Diseases and Director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, University of Sydney at Westmead, New South Wales. She has had a longstanding clinical interest in mycology and infections in the immunocompromised host. Her research has focussed on the pathogenesis of fungal infections, new antifungal drug development, new diagnostics and clinical trials of antifungal diagnostic and treatment strategies. She has served on state and national advisory committees in Infectious Diseases and therapeutics and the Research and Human Ethics Committees of NHMRC.


Rosanne Taylor

Rosanne Taylor

Board Member Professor Rosanne Taylor

Rosanne Taylor has been Dean of The Faculty of Veterinary Science since 2009. After graduation from Sydney University, Rosanne started as a rural mixed practitioner at Camden, then in small animal practice and locums while she undertook a PhD on treating inherited neurological disease. She was Branch Manager in NSW Government Animal Welfare, introducing animal research legislation. During her PhD and postdocs at Sydney and University of Pennsylvania she demonstrated the value of stem cell, and gene therapies for lysosomal storage diseases (ACVS Clunies Ross research award, 1999). Rosanne teaches veterinary physiology and cell biology and has a passion for curriculum and learning development, research on clinical learning and completed a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. She was Associate Dean and Chair of Learning and Teaching (2001-7) and ProDean (2008-9) (Pfizer and Grace Mary Mitchell Awards 2001, Vice Chancellors Teaching Award 2002, and e-learning Award 2009). She sits on AAVMC Governance, JVME editorial boards and the AVA education committee. She enjoys life with 3 children, many pets and frequent escapes to the bush and beach.


James Wakim

James Wakim

Board Member James Wakim

James Wakim is a professional Non-Executive Director, Chairman, Advisory Board & Committee Member and CEO/Director with over 15 years board level experience across the banking, health, medical research, ethnic affairs and family manufacturing sectors. He is currently Chair, Gulf Energy Limited; Vice Chair, FSHD Global Research Foundation Limited; sit on the board of The Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity and Senior Advisor, Elanor Investors Group Limited.

In an executive capacity James was the MD&CEO of Bank of Sydney Limited and Arab Bank Australia Limited. As both a NED and CEO he has built robust and effective risk management policies and practices and associated governance frameworks. Further, he has developed strong local and international networks with emphasis on banking, financial services, international trade, government and community relations particularly within ethnic groups.

James has a Diploma in Company Directorship from RMIT and a Bachelor of Economics. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Senior Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia.


Merrilyn Walton

Merrilyn Walton

Board Member Professor Merrilyn Walton

Merrilyn Walton is Professor of Medical Education (Patient Safety), Sydney School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine University of Sydney. She is a leading patient-safety academic who works nationally and internationally in the field. For the last 4 years she has been a lead writer and editor for the WHO patient safety curricula guides for Multi professionals and medical schools. Merrilyn has assisted universities in Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Timor Leste and China to build capacity in patient safety and curriculum development. She was Associated Dean International (2012-14). She is the author of two books and co-authored her latest Safety and Ethics in Health Care with Professors Runciman and Merry. Professor Walton is a statutory member of the National Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA). She was a member of the Australian Health Ethics Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council 2009-2012. She is a visiting professor and affiliate of The Buehler Center on Aging, Health and Society at Northwestern University in the USA. Prior to her academic role Merrilyn was the first Health Care Complaints Commissioner in NSW (1993-2000).


Michael Ward

Michael Ward

Board Member Professor Michael Ward

Professor Michael Ward holds the Sesquicentenial Chair in Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety at The University of Sydney. He is a veterinary epidemiologist with over 25 years experience in conducting research on infectious diseases, including West Nile virus in the U.S., foot-and-mouth disease in Argentina and bird flu in Romania. He is a veterinary graduate from the University of Queensland (1986) and has held positions within the Queensland Department of Primary Industries as well as the veterinary schools at Purdue University (Indiana) and Texas A&M University. Current research on emerging infectious diseases includes a program on rabies control in eastern Indonesia, and infectious diseases of wild and feral species in northern Australia. He is currently Associate Dean, External Relations within the Faculty of Veterinary Science.


Donna Waters

Donna Waters

Board Member Associate Professor Donna Waters

Donna Waters is a registered general and obstetric nurse with 25 years experience in the management of nursing, medical and health services research. Following specialist training in paediatrics, she commenced a 10-year research career at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children (now the Children's Hospital at Westmead) before going on to manage an independent nursing and health services research organisation for more than 12 years. She also worked as the Manager of research and projects at the College of Nursing in Sydney and as Associate Professor of Nursing for Justice Health in NSW. As a member of the Governing Council of the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network, Donna is a passionate advocate for the health of children and young people, and for paediatric nursing education. She is currently the Associate Dean (Research) at Sydney Nursing School.


Andrew Wilson

Andrew Wilson

Board Member Professor Andrew Wilson

Professor Wilson is Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the University of Sydney and Director of the Australian Prevention Partnership Centre at the Sax Institute. His research and teaching interests include all aspect of health policy but especially in the area of chronic disease. In addition to his academic career, he has been Deputy Director General, Policy, Planning and Resourcing, Queensland Health, and Chief Health Officer, and Deputy Director General, Public Health, NSW Health. He also leads the ‘Solutions’ domain in the University of Sydney Charles Perkins Centre.