Session 1: 1:00 – 2:35pm
Follow the Evidence: How Research is Driving Policy and Clinical Practice

Opening Remarks: Professor Don Nutbeam, Executive Director, Sydney Health Partners
Welcome: Professor Mary O’Kane AC, Board Chair, Sydney Health Partners

Keynote Speech: Generating and Using Research to Inform Health Policy and Practice in NSW
Elizabeth Koff, Secretary, NSW Health

Video: How Research has Driven COVID-19 Messaging

Discussion Panel: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Demonstrated the Need for Rapid Research Translation

Chair: Professor Don Nutbeam, Executive Director, Sydney Health Partners

Panel Members:

  • Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque, Chief Executive, Agency for Clinical Innovation
  • Dr Antonio Penna, Executive Director, Office for Health and Medical Research
  • Professor Mark McLean, Director of Research, Western Sydney Local Health District
  • Professor Julie Leask, the University of Sydney Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery

2:35 – 3:00pm: Break

Session 2: 3:00 – 3:50pm
Session 2: Trials and Tribulations: Maximising the Benefits of Clinical Trials to Health Services

Chair: Dr Teresa Anderson AM, Chief Executive, Sydney Local Health District

Video: Five Years of Facilitating Clinical Trials

Discussion Panel:

  • Professor Meg Jardine, Director, NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre
  • Professor Craig Munns, Professor of Paediatric Bone and Mineral Medicine, the University of Sydney and Clinical Trials Lead, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (at Westmead)
  • Anita van der Meer, Manager, clinicaltrialsNSW, Office for Health and Medical Research
  • Professor Gemma Figtree, Professor of Medicine, Northern Clinical School and the Kolling Institute
  • Tony Maxwell, Consumer Advocate

Session 3: 3:50 - 5:05
Five Years On: Future Priorities for Sydney Health Partners

Discussion Panel

Chair: Deb Willcox, Chief Executive, Northern Sydney Local Health District

Video: Five Years of Impact

Panel Members:

  • Professor Carol Armour AM, Executive Director, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research
  • Professor Anna DeFazio, Sydney West Chair in Translational Cancer Research
  • Professor Andrew Baillie, Professor of Allied Health, the University of Sydney and Sydney Local
  • Health District and Chair, Sydney Health Partners’ Implementation Science Academic Network
  • Sharon Lee, Clinical Trials Manager, Western Sydney Local Health District
  • Professor Robyn Ward AM, Executive Dean and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Medicine and Health, the University of Sydney

Strategy Update: Professor Don Nutbeam, Executive Director, Sydney Health Partners

Video: Five Years of Research Translation

Closing Remarks: Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC, the University of Sydney

5:05pm: Livestream End

Speaker Bios

Read more about our speakers and panel members.

Professor O’Kane is the Board Chair, Sydney Health Partners, and has an exceptional breadth and depth of experience in innovation, research and public policy. As a computer engineer Professor O’Kane undertook pioneering work in artificial intelligence and was the Vice Chancellor of the University of Adelaide from 1996-2001. Between 2008-18 Professor O’Kane served as New South Wales’ first Chief Scientist and Engineer, during which she was instrumental in establishing the NSW Medical Devices Fund.

Elizabeth has held a number of Senior Executive roles within the NSW health system, across operational and policy portfolios. In 2016, Elizabeth was appointed Secretary, NSW Health. As Secretary she is responsible for the management of the NSW health system and setting strategic direction to ensure NSW continues to provide exceptional healthcare, research and education.

Elizabeth is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Technology Sydney, a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) and a member of Chief Executive Women.

Dr Teresa Anderson is the Chief Executive of Sydney Local Health District, one of the leading public health services in Australia. She has more than 35 years of experience as a clinician and health service executive. She has a well-established reputation for implementing strategies to foster innovation and best practice, supporting collaboration and building partnerships.

She is an internationally recognised Speech Pathologist and is passionate about developing programs and services to support and improve the health and wellbeing of all people in the community. In 2018 Dr Anderson was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Dr Anderson is a Vice President and has been made a Fellow of the NSW Institute of Public Administration Australia, is a member of seven Medical Research, Health and PHN boards and is an active member of the Sydney Health Partners Board, one of the first four centres in Australia designated by the NHMRC as an Advanced Health Research Translation Centre.

Deb commenced at the Chief Executive, Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) in November 2017.

Deb’s career has included roles in both government and non-government organisations and her experience spans clinical, corporate services, government departments, the research environment and senior government advisor roles.

Prior to Deb appointment as the Chief Executive, NSLHD, Deb held a number of senior executive and leadership positions within NSW Health including the Director of Operations Sydney Local Health District and General Manager, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, the Director, Customer Service and Corporate Governance HealthShare NSW, and Director Executive of and Ministerial Services, NSW Health.

Deb has also held senior positions in government both as Chief of Staff in the portfolios of Planning, Housing and Aboriginal Affairs where she played a pivotal role in the development and implementation of the Government’s policy agenda in the portfolios of Planning, Housing and Aboriginal Affairs, and as an advisor to the Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, overseeing clinical areas including planned surgery, critical care, and emergency departments for these portfolios.

Deb started her career in nursing at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and later studied law having been admitted as a Legal Practitioner in New South Wales.

Don Nutbeam is currently the Executive Director of Sydney Health Partners and a Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney. Sydney Health Partners is a NHMRC accredited Advanced Health and Research Translation Centre representing collaboration between four major health services, a world-leading university and ten affiliated medical research institutes.

Don Nutbeam’s career has spanned senior leadership positions in universities, government, health services and international organisations including WHO and the World Bank. He was formerly Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, Provost of the University of Sydney, and Head of Public Health for the UK Government. He is a public health scientist with research interests in the social and behavioural determinants of health, and in the development and evaluation of public health interventions.

His current research focusses on the development and testing of interventions to improve health literacy in different populations.

I am a clinical psychologist and Professor of Allied Health with Sydney Local Health District. I work with Alllied Health Research & Education for Translation & Innovation within SLHD to build Allied Health Research Capacity. I conveen the Academic Impelemtntation Science Network for Sydney Health partners. I collaborate with the Matilda Centre for Research in Substance use and Mental Health, the Edith Collins Centre (Translational Research in Alcohol Drugs and Toxicology, and the Sydney Institute of Women Children and their Families. I also work with Drug Health Services at RPA and the Psychology Team at RPAVirtual.


Anita van der Meer currently leads clinicaltrialsNSW at NSW Health where she is responsible for implementing strategic reform for clinical trials operations across the New South Wales health system.  Her expertise in translation and development of pharmaceutical and medical technologies is supported by more than 20 years of clinical trial experience in Australian start-ups and global pharma and med-tech companies.

Her areas of expertise include medical devices, cardiac rhythm and cardiovascular technologies and First-in-Human clinical trials.  She has previously been co-chair of the Medical Technology Association of Australia Clinical Investigations Forum and member of the Research and Development Task Force and AusBiotech Clinical Trials Advisory Group.

Through the Commonwealth CTPRG, Anita contributes to the development of national approaches to clinical trials in Australia.

Prof DeFazio holds the Sydney-West Chair of Translational Cancer Research, University of Sydney at Westmead. She chairs the University of Sydney Cancer Research Network and leads the Cancer Stream of Sydney Health Partners.

Prof DeFazio is Director of the Center for Cancer Research at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, and she is a member of The Daffodil Centre, a joint venture between Cancer Council NSW and the University of Sydney.

Prof DeFazio’s research is focused on understanding the clinico-genomic parameters that underlie treatment response in ovarian cancer, and she is the lead investigator on INOVATe, a program focused on molecular profiling, precision medicine and ovarian cancer clinical trials.

Dr Antonio Penna is a paediatrician and medical administrator. He specialised in paediatric pharmacology and undertook clinical research for over a decade before he moved into administration. Tony was a medical administrator at Westmead Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital before taking on the position of Chief Executive of the Children's Hospital at Westmead for 5 years. In August 2013 he was appointed as Executive Director of the Office for Health and Medical Research in the NSW Ministry of Health.

Office for Health and Medical Research

The Office for Health and Medical Research is the peak NSW body responsible for maximising the impact of health and medical research in NSW.

It is tasked to implement the 48 recommendations of the NSW Health and Medical Research Strategic Review, a 10 year strategic blueprint to achieving the vision articulated in the Review; ‘NSW will have a global reputation as a resilient, innovative centre of excellence for health and medical research that strongly supports a high quality health system that is highly responsive to scientific advances and that generates health, social and economic benefits for the state and beyond’. To successfully implement this 10 year plan the Office will work closely with all the key stakeholders; researchers, clinicians, biotechnology industry, Ministry of Health, government, universities & research organisations.

Professor Armour is the Executive Director of the Woolcock Institute and has worked in the area of asthma research at a basic scientific and clinical level. Her investigations span the breadth of asthma research from the cellular mechanisms to the translation of new ways to treat asthma within the health system. She is on the Australian Respiratory Council, The National Asthma Council and has chaired the National Asthma Monitoring Advisory Committee, worked on the National Therapeutic Guidelines and the Australian Medicines Handbook. From 2003 2006 she was a member of the NH MRC Research Committee and was the Chair of the Training Awards Committee.

She was Pro Vice Chancellor, Research, at the University of Sydney, from 2006-2009. In 2005 she was made a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society for her services to the profession, and she was awarded the Australasian Pharmaceutical Science Association (APSA) medal for research in 2007. She was an Associate Dean in the Faculty of Medicine until 2018. She is Professor of Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medicine and Health and was made a Payne-Scott Professor by the University of Sydney in 2018. In 2019 she was awarded an AM for her significant service to medical education and asthma management.

Prof Munns is a Senior Staff Specialist in Endocrinology, and Clinical Trials Lead at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. He is the Professor of Paediatric Bone and Mineral Medicine at the Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney.

Prof Munns’ primary clinical and research interest is the diagnosis and management of primary and secondary paediatric bone disorders. He has published widely on nutritional rickets, genetic rickets, osteoporosis and osteogenesis imperfecta.  He has undertaken numerous trials of novel therapies in paediatric bone disease and their implementation into clinical practice.  Prof Munns is also involved in enabling clinical trials in Advanced Therapeutics, including cell and gene therapy.

Gemma Figtree is a Professor in Medicine at the University of Sydney. She co-leads the Cardiovascular Theme for Sydney Health Partners, a NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre and is the Chair of the University of Sydney’s multi-disciplinary Cardiovascular Initiative.

Gemma completed her DPhil at Oxford University in 2002 supported by a Rhodes Scholarship making fundamental discoveries regarding estrogen’s actions and factors regulating NO/redox balance in the cardiovascular system. She is committed to improving the care for heart attack patients- using her knowledge of molecular and cellular biology to develop methods of identifying those at highest risk of adverse outcome, and discovering novel therapies to prevent and treat events, inspired by her clinical work as an interventional cardiologist. She has dedicated herself throughout her career to unravelling key mechanisms underlying susceptibility and response to heart attack, with studies extending from the bench to large cohort studies and clinical trials.

Professor Figtree is committed to the promotion and advocacy of cardiovascular research, working as President of the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance with a national team to secure $220 Million Federal funding for the Mission for Cardiovascular Health, as well as being a member of the NSW CVD Advisory Committee. She has been appointed by the Minister as the Chair of the MRFF Mission's (CV) Expert Advisory Panel. Her perspective and leadership are recognised by her membership of the Scientific Board of Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (responsible for International Relations), and her appointment to the Expert Advisory Panel for NHMRC Structural Review of Grants Program (2016-17), and as well as the Clinical Committee of the Heart Foundation. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and serves/has served as a non-executive Director on multiple community Boards. She is deeply engaged in mentorship of early and mid-career researchers from a diverse range of research and personal backgrounds.

Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque – Chief Executive, NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation.  He brings to the ACI leadership in healthcare system analysis and improvement, combining experience in clinical practice in refugee health and tropical medicine, in clinical governance and in academic research.   Dr Levesque is an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity at the University of New South Wales. He has a Medical Degree, a Masters in Community Health and a Doctorate in Public Health from the Université de Montréal, Canada, is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada in Preventive Medicine and Public Health, and a member of the Strategic Analytic Advisory Committee of the Canadian Institute of Health Information and for the HealthShare NSW Board.

Julie Leask is professor in the Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney and visiting fellow at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance. Julie has qualifications in public health, nursing and midwifery. She is a social scientist specialising in vaccination uptake, programs and policy and also teaches evidence-based practice and implementation science to nursing students. She is advisor to the World Health Organization and currently chairs the Behavioural and Social Drivers of Vaccination working group. She was named overall and global category winner of the Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence in 2019.

Mark is a specialist endocrinologist and medical academic.  Mark has worked as a clinical endocrinologist in Western Sydney since 1996, as a Staff Specialist at Westmead and Blacktown-Mt Druitt Hospitals, and was Foundation Professor of Medicine at Western Sydney University 2009 – 2016.  Mark is now Executive Director of Research of the Western Sydney Local Health District and is extensively involved in clinical and basic science research.

Professor Meg Jardine is the Director of the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, the University of Sydney and Kidney Health Research Director. Her interests include the integration of clinical care and research endeavours, and the promotion of learning health system principles to contribute to the efficient delivery. She has experience in the design and conduct of national and international trials and is particularly interested in response-adaptive techniques as a solution to many of the challenges facing trials in kidney disease.

Prof Jardine is an Executive Committee member of the international nephrology guidelines body, KDIGO. She contributes to policy setting and implementation through roles such as Board Member of the Kidney Health Initiative, a public-private collaboration of the American Society of Nephrology and the US FDA. Her advocacy for the kidney disease trial endeavour is pursued through roles in the AKTN, the International Society of Nephrology Advancing Clinical Trials (ISN-ACTS) core committee and the ANZSN Research Advisory Committee. She is a specialist nephrologist at Concord Repatriation General Hospital.

Professor Robyn Ward AM FAHMS joined the University of Sydney in July 2018 as the inaugural Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health. She was the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Executive Dean (Acting) of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Queensland.

Professor Ward is an academic leader, cancer researcher and medical oncologist. She chairs the Commonwealth Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC), and serves on the Council and Executive of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. In 2013 she was made Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to medical research and patient care in the field of oncology.

Sharon Lee (Clinical Trials Manager, Western Sydney Local Health District) has over 20 years research experience with both investigator initiated studies and pharmaceutical sponsored trials.

Sharon has extensive experience with ethics and governance applications processes and regulations. She is a Transcelerate accredited ICHGCP trainer. In her current role she assists researchers with protocol design and development, ethics and governance applications and data collection ensuring ethical standards are maintained. She is also currently enrolled in a PhD (Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney) investigating research capacity of allied health, nursing and medical professionals.

Tony Maxwell was diagnosed with prostate cancer 18 years’ ago.  He has been an active consumer representative and partner in health for many years, working with a wide range of organisations and groups including Cancer Voices NSW, Cancer Council NSW, the Urology Network of the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation, and the Westmead Prostate Cancer Support Group.  Tony has had an increasing interest in cancer research, and has been involved in reviewing research applications from a consumer perspective.  About seven years ago, Tony joined a clinical trial to test a new drug for prostate cancer.  Today, Tony will be sharing with us his thoughts about the value of participating in clinical trials.