Congratulations to NHMRC grant recipients

A number of researchers from Monash Health, Monash University’s School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health and the Hudson Institute of Medical Research have excitingly been awarded National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants for their innovative research projects that will help transform healthcare worldwide.

Congratulations to:

Dr Connie Wong, for ‘Targeting the brain-gut axis to improve stroke outcome’

Professor Guiying Nie, for ‘The central role of accelerated trophoblast syncytialization and aging in preeclampsia’

Dr Jun Yang, for ‘Screening for Primary Aldosteronism: Outcomes, Economics and Biomarkers’

Dr Kate Lawlor, for ‘Role of A1 in repressing mitochondrial apoptosis to limit pathogen clearance’

Professor Kate Loveland, for ‘Developmental Events Affecting Male Fertility and Reproductive Pathologies’

Dr Kelly Crossley, for ‘Reducing the risk of pulmonary hypertension in infants with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia’

Dr Kirsten Palmer, for ‘PROTECT Me: Assessing Antenatal Maternal Melatonin Supplementation in Fetal Growth Restriction to Improve Neurodevelopmental Outcomes’

Professor Mark Hedger, for ‘Treating Inflammation in the Male Reproductive Tract’

Dr Michelle Tate, for ‘Finding the balance – Reducing inflammation during severe influenza infections’

Professor Michael Hickey, for ‘Control of Proinflammatory Endothelial Cell function by Regulatory T cells’

Professor Paul Hertzog, for ‘Innate Musocal Sensing & Shaping of the Human Microbiome’

Dr Sam Forster, for ‘Microbiome derived candidates to revolutionise treatment of inflammatory bowel disease’

Dr Shayanthi Mukherjee, for ‘Advancing Women’s Urogynecological Health using Micro/Nanotechnologies’

Professor Yahya Shehabi, for ‘Sedation Practice in Intensive Care Evaluation in Older ventilated Critically Ill patients; Early Sedation with Dexmedetomidine in Older Ventilated Critically Ill Patients. A Randomised Double Blind Placebo Controlled Trial – SPICE IV’

Pyjama Fun Run raises $70,000 for sleep health!

On Sunday 27 October we raised an incredible $70,000 to support sleep health at the Pyjama Fun Run!

We were joined by employees, families and their four-legged friends for a fun-filled day at Princes Park.

Former patient and fundraising champion Braun made a special appearance with his famous DeLorean, along with Storm Troopers and our friends at Victoria Police.

Everyone came together for a group warm up, games, face painting and live entertainment by DJ SKBliss.

All of the funds raised will support the purchase of special equipment to help patients with sleep apnoea and fund research into sleep health.

Thank you to our sponsors Fisher & Paykel, CPAP Victoria, Rhinomed, Somnomed, Turner Institute for Brain & Mental Health and everyone who joined us on the day and generously donated to support Monash Lung and Sleep.

You can donate now at

Jenny Mikakos visits Casey Hospital to tour the new Operating Suite


Yesterday we welcomed Jenny Mikakos, the Victorian Minister for Health, to Casey Hospital to tour the new Operating Suite, now open as part of Casey Hospital Expansion Project.

The new Operating Suite is larger, brighter, and features larger recovery spaces for patients.

“This is two years of planning for our teams, so it has been fantastic to move into the new state-of-the-art operating suite,” said Yolandie Whitehead-Bell, Nurse Manager for Casey Hospital Operating Suite.

Two new theatres are now operational. Upon final completion of the project in early 2020, these new theatres will boost Casey Hospital’s surgical capacity. The project also includes the first Intensive Care Unit in the area, which will significantly change the cases that can be managed at Casey Hospital.

“For Melbourne’s South-East the completion of this project will be a major development, as the Intensive Care Unit will allow far more people to receive high-acuity care close to home,” said Martin Keogh, Chief Operating Officer at Monash Health.

The Minister took time to chat to patients in the new spaces as well as medical, nursing, and support staff around the hospital. She was also on-hand to see new Monash Health signage installed on the external façade of the new Tower Building.

Casey Hospital Expansion Project is a Victorian Government funded $135million upgrade being delivered by Monash Health in partnership with Plenary Health, the Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority, and Monash University.

Meet our VicFAS team

Meet our Victorian Fetal Alcohol Service (VicFAS) team at Monash Children’s Hospital.

Dr Katrina Harris, Developmental Paediatrician and VicFAS Lead

Dr Katrina Harris is Head of Developmental and Community Paediatrics and Medical Lead of Monash Childrens’ at Home. In 2019, Katrina was successful in applying for a Commonwealth grant for the Victorian Fetal Alcohol Service (VicFAS).

Katrina’s interest in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders developed over years spent working in Northern Australia, particularly with Indigenous communities. During her time in North Queensland she established the multidisciplinary Autism Diagnostic service for the Townsville and Palm Island region.

Katrina is currently working to integrate FAS assessment and management into the broader developmental assessment of children, through the creation of the Victorian Fetal Alcohol Service.

In her free time, Katrina enjoys camping with friends and family, running and reading.

Dr Ali Crichton, VicFAS Clinical Coordinator and Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist

Ali Crichton is the Senior Neuropsychologist and Clinical Coordinator of VicFAS.

She is motivated to build and support the team to conduct multi-disciplinary assessments of children with pre-natal alcohol exposure and broader neurodevelopmental problems who have been assessed as being at risk of FASD.

Dr Crichton has over 10 years’ experience working within paediatrics at tertiary hospitals in multidisciplinary teams, including rehabilitation and neurodevelopmental clinics. She particularly enjoys multidisciplinary team clinical work, and innovative, evidence based clinical practice to deliver the highest quality clinical care to children and families.

She is a keen clinician-researcher, and completed her PhD in in 2017. She will work in collaboration with Monash University to understand cognitive and behavioural profiles of FASD. She is the Deputy Chair of the Victorian section of the College of Clinical Neuropsychologists (Australian Psychology Society), and is an executive member of the Australian Paediatric Neuropsychology Research Network.

In her free time, Ali enjoys picking up Lego off the floor, reading, running, and thinks about meditating.

Prue Walker, VicFAS Service Coordinator

Prue Walker (BA Hons, MA (Soc Pol), BSW) is a Social Worker who has worked in child protection services in Victoria and Northern Territory for over 16 years as a Practice Leader and manager. Her most recent role was as Program Leader in Out of Home Care including an Adoption and Permanent Care program. Prue has extensive experience in supporting children and young people affected by FASD and their families.

Prue undertook a Churchill Fellowship in 2009, where she travelled to Canada and the United States to explore models of care for children with FASD. She presented her findings at the APCCAN Asia Pacific Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in Perth 2009, and has since arranged a number of FASD forums and events. She continues to provide FASD training consultancy services to professionals and families. Prue is also a sessional teacher in Social Work at La Trobe University, and is passionate about raising awareness and promoting knowledge of FASD within the sector.

In her spare time she walks her pugs, drives her teenage daughter around and watches Schitt’s Creek.

Michellle Lindsay-Dawe, Clinical Neuropsychologist

Michelle is a Clinical Neuropsychologist with over 10 years’ experience in the assessment of children, adolescents and young adults. She has worked in a variety of hospital settings, including Acute Rehabilitation Units, The Royal Children’s Hospital Learning Difficulties Centre and The Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service.  Michelle has also worked in Acute Paediatric Inpatient Units and currently works part time within the Neurodevelopmental Psychiatry Team at Monash Early in Life Mental Health Service and in private practice.

Michelle has a passion for helping young people and their families better understand the impact of cognitive difficulties and how to best utilise their cognitive strengths.

In her spare time, she likes to keep active by dancing to the wiggles, walking on the beach, or escaping to San Remo (which is NOT in Italy) to her coastal caravan.

Natalie Hindman, Occupational Therapist

Natalie has joined the VicFAS team as a paediatric occupational therapist, which complements her work as an acute therapist at MCH and in other multidisciplinary teams including developmental paediatrics, rheumatology and chronic pain.

She has 13 years of experience working with children with a variety of complex needs in hospital, school, and community settings. She has particular interest in how movement and sensory processing impact on a child’s ability to participate in meaningful activities.

In her free time Natalie spends too much time at the gym, is determined to see the world, and teaches yoga.

Maria Kouspos, Speech Pathologist

Maria is a paediatric speech pathologist, and works in other multidisciplinary teams including the Developmental Paediatrics Clinic and Healthy Koori Kids Clinic.

She has 18 years of experience working with children with complex neurological, developmental and behavioural conditions. She is interested in working with vulnerable children, their complexities and understanding the impact of trauma on child development, particularly for children in out-of-home care.

Maria is particularly passionate about assisting families understand their child’s communication profile and the implications it has on their child’s daily experiences. She provides informed assessments, and family-centred, evidence based therapy according to the individual’s presenting needs and is culturally and linguistically sensitive.

Maria is a Certified Practising Member of Speech Pathology Australia.

Natalie Huynh, Administrative Assistant

Natalie is an Administrative Assistant with the VicFAS and Adolescent Medicine team at the Monash Children’s Hospital.

She has prior administrative experience working in various health and medical environments. Most recently working in Acute Adolescent and Adult Mental Health Inpatient services with the Box Hill Mental Health Program and within private suites of a Neurosurgeon, Physiotherapist and Oncologist.

Natalie has a keen interest in food and nutrition sciences and in her spare time enjoys reading on the studies of our mind and gut connection, our gut microbiome and how various diets impact on our mental health.

Celebrating 10 years of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies

We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of our Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Program, which provides assistance to pregnant women experiencing vulnerability across Casey, Cardinia and Dandenong.

Over the past 10 years we have been privileged to work with 3,049 women and their babies.

Our team works with women to reduce health inequity by addressing maternal risk behaviours, providing information and improving access to antenatal, postnatal and other health and human services to support them throughout their pregnancies.

The team of 11, which includes a social worker, nurse, community development worker and psychologist, build a close relationship with each mother, working collaboratively with clients to plan and achieve their goals.

Denise Bridges, a Case Worker that has been working in the program since it began, says “It makes a huge difference to the path women travel. Small changes can put them on a positive path in a different direction.”

“It made a massive difference. I’m thankful for getting the help and would be lost without them,” explains Roxanne, a mother in the program.

Thank you to our Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies team for the incredible support you have provided to mothers and babies in our community over the past 10 years.

Emergency Department Redevelopment Project

We were delighted to welcome Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and the Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos MP to Monash Medical Centre on Sunday 8 September to launch our emergency department redevelopment project.

Major works are about to commence on the project, which will deliver an expanded emergency department and a new, dedicated paediatric emergency department for Monash Children’s Hospital.

A separate emergency treatment area will be created to treat patients with complex needs.

“This upgrade will give families peace of mind that world-class care is just around the corner when someone is sick,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.
Monash Medical Centre sees over 90,000 emergency patients a year. This figure rises each year, and increasing demand means the facilities are in need of an upgrade and expansion.

“Our infrastructure no longer matches the needs of our patients or the abilities of our team,” said Dr Rachel Rosler, Director of Emergency Medicine at Monash Medical Centre.

“Our dedicated staff provide care for critically ill and injured patients, but working in an ageing facility does limit our ability to provide tailored care for children, undertake research projects, or care for patients with complex needs.”

On hand to meet the Premier and Minister was 13-year-old Tristan Watters. Earlier this year Tristan had a cardiac issue that saw his heart rate soar to over 250 beats per minute. An ambulance rushed him to Monash, where our emergency team were able to get the life-threatening episode under control.

The construction project ahead will include a dedicated entry for ambulances, allowing faster access to life-saving care. Major works commence soon and the whole project is expected to be complete in 2022.

Meet Darren Mansfield

Meet Darren Mansfield, Deputy Director of Monash Lung and Sleep and Director of the Monash Health Sleep Service.

What is your role at Monash Health and what does it entail?

As well as supporting many of the activities within the Respiratory Unit, my principal role is to oversee the Sleep Service. The sleep unit is one of the largest in the country with over 70 sleep studies conducted each week.

Sleep health is being recognised as one of the three pillars for a healthy lifestyle along with exercise and diet. Our sleep unit hopes to convey the importance of healthy sleep toward optimal mood, performance, cognition, learning and metabolic health.

What has your journey been like at Monash Health? 

I was an intern at Monash Health the year that it opened in 1990 and conducted much of my training here. I returned in 2003 to work at Dandenong Hospital in general medicine and intensive care. I was Head of the General Medical Unit from 2007 to 2011, and moved to the Respiratory Unit in 2012 to take on the role leading the Sleep Service within the Monash Lung and Sleep Department.

This year’s theme for Sleep Awareness Week in Australia is ‘Sleep on it- memory and problem solving.’ Why is sleep so important, and what impact does it have on our memory and brain function?

Sleep is critical to cognition and learning. Learned tasks and experiences are consolidated into memory during sleep. The cortex of the brain is not able to consolidate experiences and learned tasks into memory while at the same time processing current stimuli from the environment. The function of disengaging from conscious awareness might be an important aspect of sleep for separating these two functions and allowing information to be consolidated into memory.

Sleep is crucial to children and adolescents in particular as they are most vulnerable to the effects of sleep loss on mood, behaviour and learning.

What major/new project or initiative is your team currently working on?

We are developing Monash Lung and Sleep in the community to place our outpatient services within a large primary care hub in Cranbourne. This initiative hopes to bring our chronic lung disease closer to home, a GP and multidisciplinary care.

What are your biggest achievements since working at Monash Health?

Being part of a team in respiratory and sleep medicine that delivers a high quality clinical service, with a high patient experience, manages its finances and delivers over 50 publications per year, with repeated grant success.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

I enjoy looking at ways of developing new services.

If you weren’t working in your current role what would you be doing?

I think I would have been an Engineer. I loved maths and physics and miss the opportunity of using these tools to solve problems.

The Pyjama Fun Run is coming up on October 27 to support the Monash Lung and Sleep department. How can people get involved?

Everyone sleeps, and therefore has a stake in raising awareness of its importance to optimal health. Register for the event, dress up in your PJs, walk, run or bring your dog. Either way come and have some fun!

Register now at

Visit our Facebook event


Professor Suresh Sundram to lead education and research in Mental Health

Monash Health and Monash University are proud to announce the appointment of Professor Suresh Sundram to the position of Head, Department of Psychiatry, Monash University School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, and Director of Research, Monash Health Mental Health Program.

Professor Sundram has a distinguished career as a clinician and as a researcher. He moved to Monash in 2015 from the Florey Institute, attracted by the translational research opportunities of the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP), and the opportunity to co-locate his laboratory research program and clinical activities. His appointment concludes a national search for the ideal appointee to the position held by Professor David Kissane from 2012-2019. The role will formally merge for the first time leadership of research and education in mental health at Monash University with leadership of research within the Mental Health program of Monash Health.

“We are delighted to welcome Professor Sundram as the new academic department head in this vital area of human health,” said Professor Eric Morand, Head of the Monash University School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health. “With responsibility for medical teaching, postgraduate masters offerings, and research in the School, it is a significant leadership position within the University and provides great opportunities for collaboration with Monash Health as well as with the newly established Turner Institute.”

Professor Sundram will depart his role as Unit Head of Adult Psychiatry at Monash Medical Centre in order to undertake this new academic leadership position. Program Director of Mental Health at Monash Health, Professor David Clarke said, “Monash Health has benefited enormously from the leadership Suresh has provided to Monash Psychiatry thus far and looks forward to this continuing in this new role which will advance the progress of Monash Health as a leading integrated centre of clinical-academic excellence in psychiatry and neuroscience.”

Professor Sundram said the role is an exciting opportunity to build upon the rich research profile of the Department of Psychiatry, and to develop new avenues using precision medicine approaches in translation to improve outcomes for people with psychiatric disorders.

“I hope to foster the further flourishing of a research and teaching culture of excellence embedded within a clinical context through the close interface between Monash University and Monash Health,” Professor Sundram said.

Appointments to the Monash Health Board

We’re delighted to announce the appointment of three new Monash Health Board Members: Robyn McLeod, Tony Brain and Helen Brunt.

Our new Board Members bring with them exceptional experience, knowledge and leadership.  A biography of each new Board Member is provided below.

Each year we review sub-committee membership and, along with the new members, there have been a number of changes made to ensure we provide the best possible governance and succession planning.


Membership of the Board sub-committees is as follows:

Board Audit Committee: Jane Bell (Chair); Tony Brain; Robyn McLeod

Board Finance Committee: Charles Gillies (Chair); Tony Brain; Helen Brunt; Dipak Sanghvi

Board Quality Committee: Hatem Salem (Chair); Aurélia Balpe; Misty Jenkins

Aboriginal Health Strategic Partnership Committee: Dipak Sanghvi (Chair); Misty Jenkins

Community Advisory Committee: Aurélia Balpe; Robyn McLeod

Primary Care & Population Health Advisory Committee: Aurélia Balpe (Chair); Robyn McLeod


Incoming Board Member Biographies: 

Ms Robyn McLeod

Ms McLeod is a governance and public policy expert who currently serves on the Boards of Melbourne Water and VicWater, and previously served as a member of the Governance working group of the Board of Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand. Robyn’s previous positions include director of the Australian Centre for Social Innovation, Independent Commissioner for Water Security in South Australia, National Director of Water for KPMG, Executive Director of Major Projects Water with the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria and Chief of Staff to the Victorian Energy Resources and Ports Minister.

Ms Helen Brunt
BA (Hons), GAICD

Ms Brunt is a senior governance and technology delivery executive who brings extensive experience in digital technology and large scale transformation in complex business environments including Wesfarmers and Westpac. She is skilled in developing strategies to leverage technology to support business strategy. Helen is passionate about diversity and the use of technology to transform customer and staff experience and previously served as an associate board member for the VIC ICT for Women in IT. Helen is currently an elected Member Director of the Wesfarmers Super Trust Policy Committee.

Mr Tony Brain

Mr Brain is a Chartered Accountant with over 30 years’ experience in governance, assurance, finance and regulatory oversight. Tony’s executive leadership experience includes 12 years as Partner at Deloitte and nearly three years as Head of Risk Management at AustralianSuper. In addition to Monash Health, Tony’s current Non-Executive Director experience includes three years at the Australian Scholarships Group Friendly Society Pty Ltd and nearly one year at AMP Superannuation Limited where he is currently in the role as Interim Chair. Tony also sits on various Board Committees for Victoria University, Barwon Health, Magistrates Court Victoria and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. Tony is also a current member of the Companies Auditor Disciplinary Board.


We would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution made by our outgoing Board Members Ms Sarah Ralph, Ms Jorden Lam and Ms Heather Cleland, and thank them for their time, commitment and critical insight.

We wish them all continued success and thank them for their service to Monash Health.


Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Congratulations to Dr Robert Stunden, Head of Paediatric Surgery at Casey Hospital, who was recognised in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his service to medicine in the field of paediatric surgery.

Dr Stunden is a paediatric surgeon based at Monash Health and Peninsula Health, serving patients across south-east Melbourne, Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula.

Congratulations to Mr Shashi Kochhar, President of Friends of the Children Foundation and founder of the Walk for Monash Children’s Hospital, who was recognised in the Queen’s 2019 Birthday Honours List for his service to the community through charitable initiatives.

Mr Kochhar is a passionate advocate for improving children’s health in our community and founded the Walk for Monash Children’s Hospital, which has raised $750,000 over the past six years to help purchase vital medical equipment.

Shashi and the Friends of the Children Foundation continue to raise money for Monash Children’s through fundraising dinners, sausage sizzles and other opportunities in the community to raise awareness and funds to support our patients and families.