Awards Recognise Women Health Innovators

Date Posted – 13 May 2021

Four outstanding women have been recognised for their incredible work across Victoria’s health technology sector as Australia dealt with COVID-19 in 2020.

Victoria’s medical and scientific communities made an important contribution to the fight against the pandemic. The 2021 BioMelbourne Network Women in Leadership Award winners took their work to another level and continued to lead, innovate, and support those around them despite the many challenges that emerged.

To mark this unprecedented year, a BioMelbourne Network Board of Directors Award was introduced for leadership and impact amidst the pandemic. It recognises a woman who used her initiative to have an outstanding impact in healthtech and healthcare that benefited Australian communities.

The 2021 Women in Leadership Awards were presented today by The Hon. Jane Garrett MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Jobs, in a ceremony supported by the Victorian Government. The hybrid event with 50 attendees and over 100 watching online was hosted at the Royal Society of Victoria.

BioMelbourne Network CEO Jeff Malone hosted and The Governor of Victoria, The Honourable Linda Dessau AC, appeared in a recorded message.

Mr Malone said: “Women who already played a leading role in Victoria’s health technology sector stepped up their efforts in 2020 when the global pandemic emerged. We are thrilled to recognise four outstanding women whose achievements over the past year have been simply remarkable.”

The 2021 Awardees will be featured in the Women in Leadership Awards Honour Roll on the BioMelbourne Network website.

The BioMelbourne Network Women in Leadership Awards were launched in 2015 to acknowledge and celebrate women who, at different stages of their careers, have made exceptional contributions to advancing the biotechnology, medical technology and pharmaceutical sector, whose leadership and commitment to driving change and impact in the Health Industry and to inspire more women to pursue leadership roles.

The 2021 Awardees are:

Board of Directors Award – Associate Professor Margie Danchin, Research Group Leader and Clinician Scientist, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Margie leads a research program within MCRI’s COVID-19 initiative around vaccine uptake, focused on education, communication and building vaccine confidence.

Margie is currently running the Victorian COVID-19 Vaccine Preparedness Study, with over 5000 survey and 40 qualitative interview respondents to date, to understand peoples’ attitudes and concerns around COVID vaccines, factors that will influence vaccine acceptance and the information needs and preferred communication channels for different groups. This work will be used to tailor effective communication strategies and target vaccine information in partnership with the Victorian Government.

Through her leadership position at COSSI and MCRI, Margie is leading the COVID-19 vaccine confidence training program for health care providers, industry groups and community and faith leaders from diverse communities, including recent migrants and refugees and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This culturally safe and sensitive training will ensure those groups receive the most relevant and important information to them, maximising vaccine uptake and preventing disease.

Margie is an outstanding leader. She is passionate about improving lives of individuals, families, and the community. She is an outstanding communicator and highly respected for her warmth, integrity, and decision-making skills. Her ability to inspire others within this rapidly changing environment with multiple stakeholders is very impressive.

Distinguished Leadership Award – Dr Jenny Petering, Of Counsel, FB Rice

Through her enthusiasm for innovation and mentoring, Jenny has made lasting contributions to the biotechnology industry. An inspiring role model, she has had a positive impact to the advancement of women in the sector by creating networks, mentoring forums, and investing in female entrepreneurs. Jenny sits on the IMNIS Expert Advisory Panel, the Springboard Life Sciences Executive Committee, and various commercialisation committees for research institutes. She is also a member of Scale Angels, an investment group supporting early-stage female founders with funding, advice and mentoring.

As a Senior Fellow in the Melbourne Law Masters at the University of Melbourne, Jenny teaches a subject on patents. She has led and educated generations of patent attorneys at many of levels, having held teaching roles at the University of Melbourne, and Monash University.


Inspiring Leadership Award – Jennifer Herz, Managing Director, Biointelect

Jennifer and her partner Karl Herz are Founders and Managing Directors, respectively, of Biointelect and Biocelect. Their vision was to build a strategic life science commercialisation company that could leverage their international experience and address commercialisation gaps in the Australian ecosystem, while identifying new assets for unmet needs in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Region.

In her role at Biointelect, Jennifer has played an integral part in the successful outcome of several key projects, delivering meaningful and positive change in the health sector.

In 2018, the first novel molecule against malaria in over two decades was approved by the TGA and FDA for prevention of malaria. This was achieved with a collaboration of Australian providers, including Biointelect, working in partnership with 60 Degrees Pharmaceuticals and the US Army.

In 2020, Novavax commenced the first COVID-19 vaccine trial to start in the Southern Hemisphere with the support of Nucleus Network and 360biolabs. Novavax is a long-standing client of Biointelect and this relationship resulted in Biocelect being appointed Sponsor for the Australian and New Zealand markets. Novavax has entered into agreements to supply 51 million doses to Australia and 10.7 million doses to New Zealand.

Jennifer’s proven leadership, determination, passion, and ability to develop and implement innovative solutions to drive products to market is truly inspirational, and we are honoured to share just a few of Jennifer’s outstanding achievements with you today.

Emerging Leadership Award – Dr Hannah Kirk, NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow, Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, Monash University

Over the last five years, Dr Hannah Kirk has worked in academia and held executive roles in the digital health and medical technology sector. In her current role at Monash University, Hannah drives several large-scale projects that develop and evaluate digital interventions to improve cognition, behaviour, academic and health outcomes in children and adolescents.

Hannah is an emerging global leader within the field of digital health research and is the co-inventor of a patented attention intervention for children with developmental disorders, which is an approved Class 1 Medical Device (FDA and TGA).

Collectively, her work has helped shape public discourse about the use of innovative digital technology in supporting positive mental health and development in the youngest members of our society.

Hannah is passionate about research translation and uniting academia and industry to produce innovative evidence-based tools that have direct benefits for the community. She is a strong advocate for advancing gender equity in academia and industry and promoting STEM careers for girls.

Access the complete media release and additional awardee citations, and read more about our 2021 awardees in the Women in Leadership Awards booklet. View the event attendee list here.

Miss the ceremony? Watch the video here! 

About BioMelbourne Network

BioMelbourne Network’s mission is to foster the development of an advanced, innovation driven and sustainable health industry. As a for-purpose, industry led membership association, we encompass biotechnology, medical technology, pharmaceuticals and health innovation companies in the state of Victoria.

We connect business, research, finance, health and government to support and promote the sector’s growth and facilitate the development and commercialisation of new drugs, devices, diagnostics and digital health technologies in Victoria. Since 2001, we have championed an environment that enables Victorian organisations to innovate, commercialise and improve the future of healthcare both locally and internationally.


Nicole Pitcher, Office Manager, BioMelbourne Network
0409 182 900

Thank you to the State Government of Victoria, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions for supporting this Awards Ceremony.





Thanks also to our venue host  – The Royal Society of Victoria



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