Harry Christian Giese AM MBE (1913-2000) was a community leader and administrator who played a key role in the establishment of the Menzies School of Health Research as the first faculty of the Northern Territory University. He and colleagues brought together as stakeholders the Northern Territory government, the University of Sydney and the Menzies Foundation, to set up the School.

During the late 1970s to the 1990s, Giese served on the Board and National Executive of the Menzies Foundation. This Award recognises his outstanding contribution to the development of health and education in northern Australia.

The 2019 Winner is Dr Nicholas Fancourt, a paediatrician with degrees in medicine and bioethics, whose PhD in Health Systems was achieved while an International Fulbright Science and Technology Fellow at Johns Hopkins University.

In Timor-Leste, 722 kilometres from Darwin, child malnutrition is among the highest in the world. Dr Fancourt leads a team that aims to improve outcomes for children hospitalised not only for malnutrition, but also for pneumonia. The research project Pulmao Saudavel (Healthy Lung) is identifying different features of pneumonia between children who are malnourished and those who aren’t. Information gathered  on clinical findings, demographics, feeding practices, risk factors and food security will underpin a vaccination program.

The 2019 Harry Christian Giese Research into Action Award will support a Nutrition Worker to lead an education program for 8 months, to better understand the social and cultural drivers of malnutrition, the experience of hospital care and perceived barriers to recovery. It will fund the design, manufacture and printing of resources such as interactive games, flip charts and toys focused on healthy infant feeding practices, in collaboration with other stakeholders such as UNICEF and World Vision. It will support the cascade of care for malnutrition, from hospital to community-based treatment including follow-up home visits with patients; improved referral documentation; and the encouragement of local leadership.

Menzies already has strong relationships in Timor-Leste, including a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health. Joint work is continuing at Hospital Nacional Guido Valadares (HNGV), the national referral hospital in Dili, as well as community health facilities and the National Health Laboratory. Supporting child malnutrition as a priority will highlight an important area in the national nutrition strategy, to be updated in 2020.

Past winners of the award are continuing with their work at Menzies.

2018 - Dr Kamala Ley-Thriemer

Dr Ley-Thriemer used her Award to provide easy-to-understand summaries of effective vivax malaria treatment in local languages such as Pashtu, Amharic and Bahasa Indonesia at sites including Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Community meetings are being held, and in October 2019, a workshop during the annual meeting of the Vivax Working Group of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network. This set out to develop country-specific road-maps for change in policy and practice for safer and more effective cures in 19 vivax-endemic countries, including Vietnam and Afghanistan. Cost-effectiveness models and timelines for change were developed.

More than 2.5 billion people around the world are at risk of acquiring vivax malaria, which can stay dormant in the liver, then appear months after infection. Treating it with primaquine is known as the radical cure. But 14 days of unsupervised treatment works poorly, leading to many relapses and accounting for 80 per cent of acute vivax malaria.

‘We recently completed a multi-centre trial, IMPROV, at sites in Vietnam, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Ethiopia, with 2388 patients’ said Dr Ley-Thriemer.

Results suggest that doubling the daily dose of primaquine to provide treatment over just 7 days is both effective and safe. There is growing evidence to show it could also work for Plasmodium falciparum patients, so accelerating overall malaria elimination.

2017 – Dr Renae Kirkham

Dr Kirkham says that the Award, ‘a fantastic initiative’, enabled her to produce short videos sharing experiences of diabetes in pregnancy. These have been used widely by clinics.

View the Diabetes in Pregnancy videos here on the resources tab. Since winning the Award, she has established Menzies’ Youth Working Group and in September 2019 led the NT Youth Health Summit. She is Co-Investigator on the Youth Type 2 Diabetes Northern Australia Collaboration, for two years from 2020, and in 2018 won a Hot North Fellowship.

2016 – Dr Jaqui Hughes

Associate Professor Hughes has secured a highly-competitive 5-year NHMRC Fellowship giving her time to further her work in advancing kidney health. She was appointed Deputy Chairperson of the National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce and recognised by her peers as the 2019 Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association Indigenous Doctor of the Year. Catching Some Air, a project focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander information rights in renal disease, was completed in 2019.

2015 Professor Gail Garvey

The SCNAT-IP (Supportive Care Needs Assessment Tool for Indigenous People) has been incorporated into the wider Australian cancer care framework, driving policy and practice. It helps Indigenous patients and their families through a Website hosting an online training module, completion of which is a prerequisite for accessing the tool.

There have been training workshops in NSW, Queensland, SA and the NT, in urban, remote and rural settings, and meetings including that of the Cancer Nurses of Australia. The tool is being used in Canberra Hospital, the Alan Walker Cancer Centre and IUIH, an Indigenous, community-controlled health service. Menzies’ strong relationship with Cancer Australia will drive further adoption.

The beginning of 2020 saw the start of the NHMRC-funded TACTICS program to improve cancer services and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. It aims to increase prevention and early detection; to improve diagnosis and treatment in culturally-appropriate ways; and to provide care for survivors, their partners and carers to enhance psychosocial wellbeing.

2014 – Dr Matthew Grigg

Dr Grigg was awarded a large ACIAR-DFAT grant to expand work on zoonotic malaria into Indonesia: North Sumatra, North Kalimantan and Sabang, Aceh. This will include molecular surveillance in humans using sensitive diagnostics; identifying specific species of mosquito that transmit these types of malaria and observing their behaviour; geospatial risk mapping using human, mosquito and monkey data to estimate transmission risk; and evaluation of agricultural land that may be increasing transmission.

His teams are also continuing their work in Sabah, looking at state-wide malaria trends, using hospital cases to further investigate underlying mechanisms of malaria  severity and, in an army cohort, longitudinal risk of exposure and infection.

2013 – Dr Gabrielle McCallum

Dr McCallum was awarded NHMRC funding for a randomised controlled trial to determine whether months of weekly azithromycin (compared with a placebo) improve clinical outcomes for Indigenous children under 2 years hospitalised with acute lower respiratory infection. The trial is being run in Darwin and 2 sites in New Zealand.

She is also an investigator on several other NHMRC/MRFF trials to improve clinical outcomes for lung health in children.

She is a member of 2 working groups, the first as part of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, to develop a position statement for electronic cigarettes, and the second as part of the European Respiratory Society taskforce to develop clinical guidelines for children with bronchiectasis.

‘I continue to lead the respiratory program in Darwin with a team of phenomenal people’, she says. ‘We are all focused on improving lung health outcomes for children.’

The Menzies medallion is awarded by the Menzies Board to groups or individuals who have made a considerable contribution to health, of relevance to the Northern Territory.

In 2020, the winner was: Associate Professor Kelvin Kong for his leadership in Aboriginal health service delivery, advocacy and research, in particular his work to improve ear health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Past medallion recipients:

  • Professor Peter d'Abbs
  • Professor Paul Torzillo
  • Professor Peter Morris
  • Dr Christine Connors
  • Dr Vicki Krause
  • June Oscar AO
  • Dr John Boffa
  • Associate Professor Susan Sayers*
  • Yalu' Marngithinyaraw Indigenous Corporation
  • Ms Stephanie Bell
  • Dr Valerie Asche*
  • Ms Margaret Brewster
  • Professor Bart Currie
  • Father Frank LFlynn MSC AC*
  • Mr Harry Giese AM MBE*
  • Professor Michael Good
  • Professor Richard Gye AO
  • Dr John Hargrave AO MBE*
  • Mrs Susan Hutton
  • Professor David Kemp FAA*
  • Professor John Mathews AM
  • Dr Brian Reid
  • Dr KS Sriprakash
    * Deceased

The Ryan Family Prize is an internal annual award that recognises outstanding contributions to Menzies – individuals or groups who go above and beyond and help make Menzies a great place to work and/or to help Menzies achieve excellence.

The successful nominee is awarded with a $3000 prize and presented with a perpetual trophy.

The Companion of Menzies was created in 2018 to recognise exceptional contributions and support to the continued development and success of Menzies School of Health Research.

2019 recipients of the Companion of Menzies are: 

Pat Anderson AO
Pat Anderson’s leadership over many years in the establishment, growth and sustainability of Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) and the Lowitja Institute helped contribute to developing a cohort of leaders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research and community-driven approaches. She is a powerful social justice advocate who works tirelessly to improve health, education and protection outcomes for Australia’s First Peoples.

Professor Tony Barnes
Tony Barnes in his role as Director provided leadership of the CRC for Aboriginal and Tropical Health and maintains strong research collaborations and institutional engagement with Menzies through his leading role as a statistician and in exploring the demography of the Northern Territory at the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University.

The inaugural recipients are:  

Dr Val Asche 
Dr Asche was the head of the microbiology research unit at Menzies School of Health Research from 1986 to 1994 under its founding director Professor John Mathews. She continues her support for Menzies and we have the annual Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence. 

The Hon Austin Asche AC QC
Austin Asche was Former Northern Territory Administrator, Chief Justice and Inaugural Chair of the Northern Territory University whose support over the years has been wonderful for all of us at Menzies.

Richard Ryan AO 
Richard Ryan also has a long association with Menzies Chair for numerous years before becoming the inaugural Vice Chancellor of the Charles Darwin University (CDU). Richard returned to us from CDU and makes sure he keeps the wheels running as our treasurer and co-chairs our finance committee.

The Val Asche Memorial Prize for Academic Excellence:

Education and Training of the Menzies School of Health Research acknowledges the importance of recognising outstanding achievement by a student undertaking a coursework award.

The Val Asche Memorial Prize for Academic Excellence is awarded on an annual basis at the end of each academic year.

Dr Valerie Asche (Deceased) was the head of the microbiology research unit at Menzies School of Health Research from 1986 to 1994 under its founding director Professor John Mathews. Dr Asche supported this award for 19 years before sadly passing away in 2019. Dr Asche's family maintains an interest in education and continues to support academic excellence among Menzies students.

Established in 2001, the award is presented each year to a student whose academic performance in a completed course has been outstanding. The student is awarded with $250 towards study materials and books.

  1. Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence 2018

    Congratulations to Alison Fitzgerald, Clare Brown, Dr Eswaran Waran and Judith Watson, who have each been awarded the 2018 Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence.

  2. Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence 2017

    Congratulations to Gerrard Murray, Catherine Connolly and Chevy Brown who have been awarded the 2017 Val Ashe Prize for Academic Excellence.

  3. Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence 2016

    Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence: Congratulations to Emma Grimes, Jodi Phillips and Leigh Moore who have been awarded the 2016 Val Ashe Prize for Academic Excellence. The Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence is awarded annually to recognise outstanding achievement by...

  4. Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence 2015

    Congratulations to Josie Povey and Alexis Harper who have been awarded the 2015 Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence.

  5. Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence 2014

    Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence: Congratulations to Heather Wallace and Camille Mewett who have been awarded the 2014 Val Ashe Prize for Academic Excellence. The Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence is awarded annually to recognise outstanding achievement by students...

  6. Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence 2013

    Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence 2013


    Congratulations to Rachel Conn and Zeina Hayes who have been awarded the 2013 Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence.