Peter Mac is proud to announce the winners of the 2019 Peter Mac awards.


The three World's Best Cancer Care Awards recognise those who go over and above to prioritise world class care for patients, empowering those affected by cancer with a sense of control and achieving exceptional outcomes.

  • Medicines Information Team, led by Sally Brooks

The Medicines Information Team provides thoroughly researched and prompt responses to clinician queries about medicines. The impact of their work is shown in the improved patient experience and management.

They provide clinicians fully referenced advice on possible interactions between alternative therapies and planned anti-cancer therapy, and use evidence-based sources to identify rare side-effects of drugs that patients may be experiencing. The team at Medicines Information provide an outstanding service to clinicians that help them provide the best possible care for our patients every day.

  • Pauline Betson, Radiation Therapy (Nursing)

Pauline Betson has dedicated many years working in oncology at Peter Mac. She is an inspirational leader both within her team and throughout the hospital, always willing to share her expertise and enthusiasm through her roles as a Neurology Nurse Consultant in Radiotherapy. She displays compassion and empathy to all those around her and thrives when educating patients and nurses alike about anything they want further knowledge in.

Neuro patients are rarely left wanting in their needs as a result of the level of care and coordination Pauline provides them during nurse consultant time.Pauline goes above and beyond daily for patients in a way that is inspirational to those lucky enough to work alongside her. Her colleagues talk about her integrity, excellence, and respect. She continually puts her patients’ health and wellbeing at the centre of everything she does.

  • Shannen Lazaro, Operating Theatre (Anaesthetic Nurse)

Shannen Lazaro has worked to improve outcomes not only for the patients in her care, but for all Peter Mac patients who need surgery as part of their cancer journey. Shannen recognised and stayed with a deteriorating patient for a long period of time to ensure that there was an anaesthetic nurse present during a time critical airway emergency. Had she not been present, the outcome may not have been as positive for this patient.

She has been innovative in changing and designing processes within the operating theatre to improve patient care and outcomes including increased efficiency in the operating theatre and in improving processes to decrease errors and improve patient management. She is an asset to the theatre team and helps deliver world-class care for patients in the operating theatre.


The Accelerate Discovery and Translational Research Award recognises the achievements of those who demonstrate a fierce pursuit of discovery based research, enabling Peter Mac to break new ground in cancer diagnosis and treatment.

  • Pol I Inhibitor Development Team, led by Gretchen Poortinga

The Pol I Inhibitor Development Team led by Gretchen Poortinga is involved in the development of an entirely new approach to targeting refractory blood cancers, and supports Peter Mac’s strategic directions in the acceleration of discoveries and providing the world’s best cancer care.

This team has shown a strong commitment to high-quality laboratory research with a focus on clinical translation, leading to the development of a first-in-class Pol I inhibitor. In conjunction with a strong team of clinical researchers, the entire collaboration has facilitated the translation of these fundamental lab findings into a clinical trial of a first-in-class Pol I inhibitor for the treatment of aggressive blood cancers, conducted at Peter Mac.

  • Prostate Theranostic team, led by Prof Michael Hofman

The Prostate Theranostic team led by Pof Michael Hoffman uses an integrated multidisciplinary method to develop and test novel radiolabels through to early phase clinical trials. The integration of radiochemistry, molecular imaging and molecular oncology promises to deliver new treatment options for patients with metastatic prostate cancer.

This team’s fierce effort has led to the development of novel therapeutic advances particularly in the area of prostate cancer. Their ground-breaking work has truly set a benchmark for translational research at Peter Mac and in promoting world-class research.

Peter MacCallum Postgraduate Research Medal 

This award was established in 1999 and is awarded annually to a PhD or Medical Doctorate student in recognition of their research achievements throughout their degree undertaken at Peter Mac. The selection committee determines which application demonstrates the greatest international impact on basic, translational or clinical cancer research, as judged by the research outcomes of the project, including publications, conference presentations, and honours and awards received by the student.

  • This year the award goes to both Dr Anna Trigos and Dr Gabrielle Haeusler

Dr Anna Trigos is a computational biologist. Her PhD investigated ‘The evolutionary history of genes and transcriptional networks reveals fundamental properties of cancer associated with the breakdown of multicellularity’.

Her project took a significant step in providing interpretation of the full cancer genomic profile by integrating genomics and transcriptomics data in a systems biology approach to answer a fundamental question: Why do we get cancer?  This work has already led to international collaborations that will use her systems-biology, evolutionary approaches for patient classification and prognosis.

Dr Gabrielle Haeusler is an infectious diseases physician and clinician researcher. Her PhD investigated ‘Fever and neutropenia in children with cancer: Optimising clinical research and the delivery of care in Australia.’ The results of her Gabrielle’s PhD have already been implemented across Victoria and have resulted in significant reductions in hospital length of stay for children with cancer and febrile neutropenia.

Gabrielle’s achievements during her PhD have identified her as the pre-eminent expert in infections in paediatric cancer in Australia. She has already been recognised for her achievements with the awarding of the 2018 Premier’s Award for Health Services research, and the 2019 Chancellor’s Prize at the University of Melbourne. 

Joseph F. Sambrook Prize for Research Excellence 

This award was established in 2012 in recognition of the late Professor Sambrook’s contribution to the international biomedical research community and to Peter Mac as a distinguished leader in molecular biology and cancer research.  The prize is awarded annually to a researcher/s judged to have made the most important published discovery during the previous two calendar years. The committee searches for innovative approaches, conceptual advances, high quality data and an excitement factor that sets a paper apart from the others.

  • This year the award goes to Dr Anna Trigos and Dr David Goode for their paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (PNAS), titled “Altered interactions between unicellular and multicellular genes drive hallmarks of transformation in a diverse range of solid tumors”

Their paper presented ambitious work to determine how the transcriptional profiles of cells interact to result in cancer.Their approach to capture universal principals of cancer development analysed the transcriptome of nearly 4000 patients across 7 tumour types, using a combination of computational biology and systems biology approaches. 

This work is the first time solid molecular evidence has been provided to establish common evolutionary principles that help explain cancer initiation and progression. Excitingly, dedifferentiation and loss of tissue integrity appear to result from a loss of multicellularity and conversion of a cell to one with properties of a unicellular organism.

Particular credit goes to Anna for the dedication, skill and creativity she demonstrated in developing and executing this complex, first of its kind study. This conceptually exciting work represented an extraordinary achievement for the small team driving it and has taken understanding of cancer development to a new level of evolutionary relationships.


The Excellence in Cancer Prevention and Wellbeing Awards recognise the achievements of those who expand Peter Mac’s expertise in the application of cancer prevention and wellbeing interventions.

  • Prehabilitation Team, led by Jess Crowe & Hilmy Ismail

The Prehabilitation team is a new multi-disciplinary team comprised of Anaesthetists, Surgeons, Haematologists, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Clinical Physiologists, Psychologists and Dietitians that has developed a new prehabilitation model of care and have demonstrated exemplary collaborative teamwork.  This team provides intervention before surgery and treatment to mitigate functional decline, and prevent and manage effects of cancer treatment.

They have developed new content that have helped guide and educate patients on the interventions they require. This team ensures patients get the right service from the right person at the right time, which is critical for prehabilitation. This new program has been successful in helping more patients be involved in their prehabilitation and continues to progress the strategic goals around Prevention and Wellbeing and delivering World Class Cancer Care.

  • Stephan Skov & Stef Zappino, from the music therapy department

Stephan is the Senior Music Therapist who, with his colleague Stef has changed the face of music therapy in Peter Mac. Their commitment ensures music is accessible and available to patients who would benefit from the therapy.  As well as individual therapy with patients and carers, Stephan and Steph regularly play in Peter Mac’s public spaces. Music can be one of the best medicines and can be an antidote to times when anyone feels in need of a lift. Live Music on Thursdays in the L1 amphitheatre has improved wellbeing for patients, carers and staff, with many commenting how much they relax, smile and enjoy the atmosphere of Peter Mac so much more with music filling the corridors and waiting rooms.


The Innovation and Collaboration Award recognises those who are dedicated to strengthening performance and becoming a more efficient organisation through new and innovative business models, partnerships and collaborations. 

  • Belinda Lambros, from the Department of Infectious Diseases

Belinda is pioneering a new and important role at Peter Mac as a Nurse Practitioner candidate to become the first Antimicrobial Stewardship NP which is co-funded through the hospital and the National Centre for Infections in Cancer. Belinda is an excellent educator has undertaken extensive education with Peter Mac nursing staff with the alignment of the sepsis pathway and implementation of mandatory approvals for restricted anti-microbial across the Parkville precinct.

Her role has directly improved patient experience by reducing length of stay, and reducing complications and toxicities from antibiotics. Her initiative, hard work, innovative mindset and commitment to her role has led to improvement in quality of prescribing, cost savings, and most importantly patient care and outcomes.

  • The Extended Recovery Unit (HAT/Anaesthetic and Peri Op Teams) led by Ian Richardson, Mardi Durling and Laura Wallace

The Extended Recovery Unit opened in September 2018 and has been a collaborative effort between the High Acuity, Anaesthetic, and Perioperative teams. The unit enables Peter Mac to receive visitors from Australia and overseas interested in modelling our delivery of care, and to continue looking after our postoperative patients at Peter Mac. This reduces ICU admissions and improves patients’ psychological wellbeing.

This team has coordinated and guided multidisciplinary teams, negotiating barriers of hierarchy and speciality, in order to construct a novel and innovative new service. Acquiring the holy grail of health care by achieving more with fewer resources, and yet still maintaining quality and excellence. The team’s "can do" approach and their expertise in problem-solving has reaped rewards and resulted in success.


The Community Contribution Awards recognise the incredible work of Peter Mac volunteers and supporters. Individuals and groups who have made significant contributions to the organisation who are not staff members of Peter Mac can be nominated for this award.

  • Beverley Brooks, from the Volunteers Department

Beverly Brooks demonstrates her commitment to the Peter Mac community through her Volunteer Sewing Coordinator role. Beverly sources and oversees the community volunteers who sew a wide-range of specific purpose items for patient use, particularly headwear. Beverly goes above and beyond her regular role in order to respond to patient requests.

She volunteers on a Friday but continues her coordination role at home by continuing to work on patient requests, liaising with the sewers, and travelling any length of distance to deliver supplies and collect products. The psycho-social ramifications of hair loss due to cancer treatments are one of the most difficult side effects for a patient. Beverly’s actions ensure that that we have a plentiful supply of lovely headwear to support our patients, empowering them, and boosting their self-esteem during their cancer journey. 

  • Templestowe Valley Probus Club Craft Group, led by Yvonne Boyall 

The talented and committed Templestowe Valley Probus Club Craft Group sew a range of goods in response to Peter Mac patient needs, from curved breast pillows to Christmas gift bags for paediatric patients. The nomination comes from the Peter Mac Volunteers who expressed that Peter Mac is the only hospital that provides an extensive range of these goods to support our patients, thanks to this group’s efforts.

Their contribution to Peter Mac is felt by all the patients who have received their products, improving their experiences through the quality of the goods they make and the care that goes into the creating them. Patients have expressed their gratitude and the impact of the group with comments such as:  “I have been so grateful for the drainage carry bag. I would not have known what to do without it. I am about to start further treatment, but I feel blessed to know that people like you care for all of us.”


The Distinction in Leadership award recognises those who have shown extraordinary leadership skills in providing support and direction to Peter Mac employees, and who champion Peter Mac’s values in engaging and motivating others.

  • Kylie Gorringe, from the Research department

Kylie is an exemplary leader at Peter Mac, running a highly successful research laboratory as a junior faculty leader and making important strategic contributions as a member of the Laboratory Research Executive. On top of her regular duties, Kylie also contributes to Peter Mac’s gender equity activities, sits on numerous committees and has established a monthly research circle peer-to-peer mentoring group. She continuously goes above and beyond her tasks to improve the research environment; responding to the different needs of students and peers to provide support. 

Kylie sets the benchmark for what a role model leader looks like in Research. She is a quiet achiever with a can-do attitude and a strong commitment to developing people, improving the research culture and contributing to the improvement in the whole research team. This makes her highly valued by her colleagues and a great role model to junior researchers. 

  • Kyra Chapman, from Ward 6A

Kyra is the Nurse Unit Manager of Ward 6A and is a fierce advocate for patients and employees. She always encourages self-care, and puts the wellbeing of her staff first. Kyra is a member of the project team for the CARE Program in Nursing (Compassion and Resilience Education), and has a reputation among her team for being extremely empathetic of everyone’s individual needs.

The way she manages the team keeps the morale high and enhances the team’s delivery of Peter Mac values. She has the utmost respect of all of her staff who will go above and beyond for the good of the unit. The atmosphere in Ward 6a has been transformed for the better because of Kyra’s hard work, palpable care, and determination to maintain a positive workplace culture. 

Kyra is the perfect role model of a great Peter Mac leader.

  • Social Work Department, led by Catherine Ludbrook 

The Social Work department at Peter Mac works with great comradery and team spirit. The nomination comes from a junior member of the social work department, who expressed that the team is truly inspiring, loving and caring. Everyone’s opinion and input is valued no matter how junior your role is. Everyone supports each other through complex situations, even when it involves going through some challenging disclosures and end-of-life experiences with patient families. 

The compassion they have for patients and their carer’s, is seen in everything they do. The go above and beyond the call of duty to reach out to them and meet their needs; whether it is conducting a discharge plan or supporting loved ones dealing with grief over loss of a patient. 

Social Work at Peter Mac sets the benchmark for what makes a strong and supportive team that commits to putting patient and carers wants and needs at the centre of their work.


The Exceptional Patient Experience Award recognises those that positively impact the patient experience whether directly or indirectly. Through small acts of kindness, and demonstrating empathy, they have shown how the little things can make the biggest difference to our patients.

  • Food Services, led by Saeje Henshall

The Food Services team are the unsung heroes of exceptional patient experience, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure patients receive high quality, freshly prepared meals every day that meet their nutritional needs. The service staff greets every patient with a smile and friendly service that often makes patients feel better. The menu co-ordinators provide assistance to all new patients and those who are unable to or have forgotten to order meals to ensure they receive a meal suitable for their needs. 

Patients have expressed their appreciation for this team’s positive impact on their cancer journey with comments such as: “The people involved in preparing and servicing food need a gold badge. The friendly service and happy smile makes you feel good. Thanks for looking after us.” 

  • Nikki Morrison, from Day Therapy

Nikki is the first metastatic breast care nurse at Peter Mac and has transformed the experience for patients with metastatic disease. In her approach to her work, Nikki personifies Peter Mac's values of excellence, innovation and compassion. She sets the highest standards for herself and demonstrates excellence in her ability to always deliver care that is patient-centred. 

Nikki’s role is emotionally very difficult, as she only deals with women who will not survive their disease but she does not hold back and is always there for her patients. Compassion is at her core, and it is so important to thank Nikki for her capacity to always demonstrate empathy, humanity and kindness to her patients and co-workers alike.