Championing trailblazing women in healthtech

Posted: 8 May 2023

Three extraordinary women, who are driving change in the healthtech industry, are recipients of 2023 BioMelbourne Network Women in Leadership Awards.

These innovators and enablers are tenacious risk-takers who are inspiring the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs.

The Hon. Ben Carroll, Minister for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Manufacturing Sovereignty, Minister for Employment, and Minister for Public Transport, presented the 2023 Awards at a livestreamed event sponsored by the State Government of Victoria.

BioMelbourne Network CEO Jeff Malone said this year’s winners are reimagining what it is to be a great leader. “Today, we honour three remarkable women who are trailblazers in the healthtech sector and role models for progressive leadership, equity and equality,” Mr Malone said.

“They highlight how collaboration has contributed to their success and why it’s important to support others on their career journeys.”

“May you be inspired by our leaders’ stories and raise the profile of talented women in your workplaces.”

The 2023 Awardees are:

Distinguished Leadership Award

Professor Sharon Lewin AO, Director, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity; Director, The Cumming Global Centre for Pandemic Therapeutics; and Melbourne Laureate Professor, The University of Melbourne

Sharon is an internationally renowned leader in infectious diseases, specifically in the field of HIV, and is President of the International AIDS Society.

Her deep expertise in virology and public health was applied during the COVID-19 Pandemic when she led Doherty Institute’s response and appeared almost daily in the media. Sharon was instrumental in securing $400 million for the new Australian Institute for Infectious Disease, a major investment in Victoria’s biomedical future.

Sharon’s vision and leadership was critical to the decision by Canadian philanthropist Geoff Cumming to donate $250 million over 20 years to the Doherty Institute to establish the Cumming Global Centre for Pandemic Therapeutics. The Centre will invest in new technologies to develop novel therapeutics for pandemics and will provide long-term research support to the next generation of scientists.

Sharon is an optimist and innovator. She is tenacious with a good idea and lives by a mantra to say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’. Sharon is generous with her time and a terrific communicator. She is committed to mentorship, inspiring others and providing clear science messaging to the public.

Inspiring Leadership Award

Professor Susie Nilsson, Research Director, Biomedical Manufacturing, CSIRO

Professor Susie Nilsson is a highly motivated leader who has made monumental shifts in the strategy and structure of CSIRO’s Biomedical Manufacturing program. Recognising a unique opportunity to contribute to the growth of biomedical manufacturing nationally, Susie implemented strategic changes that ensure CSIRO can provide the most value to the local industry.

These changes included the construction of a cGMP and QC facilities to generate biologics for Phase I, II and III clinical trials; and growing a healthy and sustainable pipeline of industry and academic engagement by integrating research capabilities and expanding into new areas. As a result, CSIRO’s biomedical manufacturing program is now a multidisciplinary one-stop-shop for research translation.

Susie inspires and empowers everyone around her. She collaborates broadly at CSIRO and externally to ensure that Australia’s national science agency meets the needs of the local biomedical industry.

Susie prides herself on seeing her team achieve and enables and supports them to reach excellent outcomes for industry and academic partners, and accolades for CSIRO research and development.

Emerging Leadership Award

Rima Darwiche, CEO and Founder, Central Pharmacy Logistics Australia

As a clinical research manager, Rima Darwiche saw first-hand how difficult it was to enrol and retain participants if they lived far away from trial sites and hospitals.

To improve access, she founded Central Pharmacy Logistics (CPL) Australia in 2019, transforming the traditional centralised model of clinical trials to a Direct-To-Patient investigational product delivery service, the first of its kind in Australia. Rima has quietly and tenaciously established CPL, setting her business up for success and securing notable pharmaceutical companies and biotechs as clients. Trial participants in metropolitan, regional or remote communities in Australia and New Zealand can now conveniently receive their trial drugs at home, saving time and effort.

Rima engages in an authentic way, with a unique leadership style. Her determination and sense of equity are unparalleled. Rima has a generous personality – influenced by her experiences living through a civil war and her immigrant parents’ challenges here – who is driven to transform society for the better and to care for all. Without a doubt, Rima is a relentless “Mover and Shaker” in the life sciences sector.

View media release.

View 2023 Women in Leadership Award Ceremony Booklet.

About BioMelbourne Network

BioMelbourne Network is the peak body in the Victorian healthtech industry, driving engagement and growth in research, innovation, commercialisation and manufacturing through local and international networks. Since 2001, we are actively fostering and growing an innovative, globally competitive sector and transforming our Network as well as the broader Victorian ecosystem.

About the Women in Leadership Awards

The BioMelbourne Network Women in Leadership Awards, which were launched in 2015, recognise and champion women who are making outstanding contributions in the healthtech industry. These leaders are also inspiring more women to pursue leadership roles. Our 2023 Awardees were nominated by colleagues in the industry and the final recipients were selected by an esteemed pre-screening committee and judging panel.


Vicki Burkitt, Communications Manager, BioMelbourne Network Phone: +61 401 057 874 Email:

The 2023 Award Ceremony is kindly sponsored by State Government of Victoria


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