Introducing the Fabienne Mackay Award

A $100,000 annual grant announced for independent researchers in the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Committed to increasing gender diversity in biomedical research, the Fabienne Mackay Award recognises career interruptions relating to the primary care of infants disproportionally affect women.

The School’s new grant will help one or more high performing, independent researchers to maintain research momentum following the birth or adoption of a child.

Head of School Professor Jennifer Wilkinson-Berka announces the award ahead of International Women’s Day and pays tribute to the first female and inaugural Head, Professor Mackay (2015-2020).

Former Head of School Professor Fabienne Mackay and current Head of School Professor Jennifer Wilkinson-Berka.

“Measures instituted by employers and funding bodies to redress the balance, such as parental leave schemes and recognition of career interruptions, are vital,” says Prof Jennifer Wilkinson-Berka.

“However, there are currently few mechanisms to support an individual’s research productivity. To help, we are proud to have created the Fabienne Mackay Award.”

An internationally recognised biomedical scientist, Prof Mackay’s discoveries have led to clinical trials and new treatments, including for the autoimmune disease lupus.

In her role as Head of School, Prof Mackay was an outstanding example and advocate for women in science – and diversity and inclusion more generally. She experienced first-hand the challenges of raising a child while maintaining research momentum and has generously leant her name to this award.

L-R: Professor Megan Munsie, Professor Kathryn North AC, Laureate Professor Ingrid Scheffer AO, Dr Andrea Douglas, Professor Kanta Subbarao and Professor Fabienne Mackay (2019).

“I am humbled, but most importantly, I hope this award makes a difference for women in biomedical sciences,” says Prof Mackay.

“It is incumbent on existing research leaders to actively identify their future women research leaders and provide opportunities for ongoing engagement and research outputs during period of personal leave.”

In May 2020, Prof Mackay became the first female Director of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

The award is open to academic staff who:

  • Hold a substantive continuing or fixed-term position of not less than 0.6 FTE in the School of Biomedical Sciences
  • Are eligible to claim primary carer parental leave entitlements at the University of Melbourne, and are or will be the primary carer in the first year after birth/adoption
  • Are independent researchers that meet or exceed the Schools research performance metrics - generally, this would include all Teaching & Research academics and Research-only staff at level C-E, but may also include some fellowship funded level A or B staff as recommended by their Head of Department.

Applications are closed for 2021 but will be open in April and close on 30 June each year.

Prof Wilkinson-Berka concludes: “After the challenges of last year, announcing this award is a tremendous way to kick start 2021. Among many things, the global pandemic has taught us to take opportunities when they arise, and I encourage all those eligible to apply for this generous award”.