Meet the AAMRI Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Meet the AAMRI Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Members of the AAMRI Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee are researchers and professional staff based at medical research institutes with experience, insight and passion for gender equality, diversity and inclusion in medical research through their work and lived experiences. The Committee is chaired by AAMRI Board Director, Professor Maxine Morand AM.

The committee aims to advance gender equality in the medical research institute sector through advocacy, leadership and providing expert guidance. This work will complement existing efforts of other organisations working towards gender equality, diversity and inclusion in medical research and STEM more broadly.

To contact the committee, please get in touch with Dr Cath Latham, AAMRI’s Director of Policy (

Find out about the Committee’s priorities, purpose and Terms of Reference here.


Committee Members (2020-)


Professor Maxine Morand AM (chair)

AAMRI Board Director

Professor Maxine Morand AM is an AAMRI Board Director, Board Chair of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and a Professorial Fellow at Monash University in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

Professor Morand is a former Victorian Government Minister with a background in health, cancer research, public policy and NFP management.

During her eight years in Parliament, Maxine served in a range of senior government positions including Parliamentary Secretary for Health, then Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development, and Minister for Women’s Affairs. Maxine is a passionate advocate for women’s equality of opportunity, and led major legislative reform in women’s health.

Maxine served as CEO of Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) between 2011 and 2014. Maxine was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in 2011, giving her personal insight into the impact and management of a cancer diagnosis.


Associate Professor Deborah Strickland

Research Focus Area Head, Early Environment, Telethon Kids Institute

Deborah is a research team leader in experimental immunology and head of the Early Environment Research Focus Area at the Telethon Kids Institute. Her research program is aimed at understanding how the early life immune system can be programmed to drive increased susceptibility to, or mitigation of, disease risk in later life, with the overarching goal of developing potential preventive strategies.

As well as her research, Deborah is a member of the Telethon Kids Institute Leadership Team, led the institute’s successful Athena Swan Bronze Award application and leads the focus on gender equity at the institute. Over her 17 year research career (spanning 25 years), Deborah has experienced the challenges faced by women returning to research after having 3 children, working part-time/flexibly, reliance on securing grant funding, caring for elderly parents with disability, and has dedicated time during her career to helping others navigate similar challenges.

Deborah is part of the SAGE-led group of STEM sector representatives who are developing the Bronze to Silver Award Pathway for the Australian Athena Swan program.


Professor Allison Pettit

Director of Biomedical Research, Mater Research

Allison is the Director of Biomedical Research and an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow at Mater Research in Brisbane. She leads the Bones and Immunology Research Group at Mater focussed on understanding how the immune system influences bone health and regeneration and the reciprocal influence on supporting haematopoiesis. Allison has worked in the complementary fields of immunology, rheumatology, haematology, cancer biology and bone biology for over 15 years.

Allison is passionate about improving equity in health research and was the inaugural chair of the Gender Equity Working Group for Mater Research which subsequently formalised into the Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. This group that has established several positive initiatives at Mater Research in the area of gender equity, including design and implementation of an internal grant scheme targeted at acceleration and enhancing female academic careers; logistical/infrastructure supports for women during late stage pregnancy and early return to work transition; and influence of policy design to ensure gender and diversity are considered during Organisational performance review and decision making processes.


Dr Sarah Russell

Group Leader (Senior Faculty) of the Cancer Immunology Program, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Sarah is Group Leader (Senior Faculty) of the Cancer Immunology Program at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Her major focus is on T cells: how they develop, how they respond to pathogens and cancer, and how errors in their development can lead to leukemia. To achieve this, she works with physicists and mathematicians at Swinburne University developing new microscopy applications and statistical and computational tools for single cell analysis.

Sarah believes that everybody has a right to a rewarding career that makes full use of their potential. This has driven her work to support and advance women in health and medical research through multiple initiatives. Sarah co-founded Women in Science Parkville Precinct (WiSPP), a group that combines systemic change with individual support and networking to provide better opportunities for women in medical research across five medical research institutes in Parkville (Melbourne).


Louise Johansson

Diversity and Inclusion Manager, WEHI

Louise is the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Manager at WEHI.

She provides leadership for the design, development and implementation of WEHI’s diversity and inclusion strategy with a current focus on gender equality, reconciliation, and LGBTQIA+ inclusion. Louise also led WEHI’s successful application to the SAGE Athena Swan accreditation program and received the Bronze Award in 2018.

Prior to joining WEHI, Louise lived and worked in England for 10 years and held senior policy and advocacy positions in two influential statutory equality bodies – the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.


Dr Jason Cain

Research Group Head, Developmental and Cancer Biology, Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Jason is Head of the Developmental and Cancer Biology research group in the Centre of Cancer Research at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research. His research focus is to understand the roles of critical embryonic signaling pathways and epigenetic mechanisms in normal and how dysregulation of these processes can lead to the initiation and progression of cancer that can be therapeutically exploited.

Jason is the co-chair of the Hudson Institute of Medical Research Equity and Diversity Committee and passionate about improving inclusiveness and gender equity in the health and medical research fields.


Associate Professor Ruby Lin

Deputy Director of Phage Australia (MRFF Frontier 2021)

Associate Professor Ruby CY Lin is the Deputy Director of Phage Australia (MRFF Frontier 2021), Genomic Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of Westmead Precinct Hub (2 teaching hospitals and 3 Medical Research Institutes) and current Vice President of the Australasian Genomic Technologies Association (AGTA). She helps organisations build academic-industry hybrid teams and has secured over $6.4 million in research funding in the disciplines of genomics, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, cancer biology, tissue, pathogen and phage biobanking as well as phage therapy.

During her time as the president of AGTA (2013-5), she continued to implement co-convenors for its annual meeting with a quiet room for delegates with carer duties, ECR-MCR pairing to chair sessions and 50:50 gender balanced international and local invites. AGTA proudly continues this equity diversity and inclusion guidelines in its conferences, workshops and symposiums. She is part of UNSW Women in Research and advocates for girls and women in STEMM and does pro bono career coaching.


Dr Steven Philpot

Research fellow at the Kirby Institute

Steve is a research fellow at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney. He has expertise in conducting conduct qualitative research primarily relating to HIV prevention, sexual health, identity, and sexuality among gay and bisexual men, people living with HIV, and migrants. He researches at the intersection between the sociology of health and social public health. His primary focus is on improving the sexual health and wellbeing of sexual identity populations.

Steve is a member of the Kirby Institute Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee and a member of the UNSW LGBTIQ Working Group. He is passionate about ensuring that all voices, regardless of background or experience, are heard and championed in the workplace, in research contexts, and beyond. Steve is interested in progressing gender equity and has been advocating for more representation of female academic and professional staff at all levels and committees, as well as improving cultural and structural supports for females in the workplace.


Dr Janelle Wright

Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at SAHMRI

Janelle is a former Postdoctoral Research Scientist who transitioned into a Learning & Development role before working on the SAGE Athena Swan program for SAHMRI, which was awarded in 2019. Janelle leads the Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion working group, the Ally+ network and is a member of SAHMRI’s Gender Equity Committee. Janelle is interested in progressing gender equity and improving inclusiveness in the workplace.