Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research

Following recent Cabinet changes, the Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research is now a Department of Health program. However, applications for the 2022 awards should continue to be submitted via this page.

Applications are now open for the 2022 Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research.

Established in 1995 by the Victorian Government in partnership with the Australian Society for Medical Research, the awards recognise the exceptional contributions and capabilities of Victoria’s early-career health and medical researchers.

Recipients of the five category awards receive $5,000, and an additional $15,000 is granted to the winner of the Premier's Excellence award.

The five award categories include:

  • Basic Science Researcher
  • Clinical Researcher
  • Aboriginal Researcher undertaking research in any field of health and medical research
  • Health Services Researcher
  • Public Health Researcher

The following people are encouraged to apply:

  • current PhD candidates within a health and medical field who are at least two years into candidature at a Victorian academic or research institute
  • post-doctoral researchers within a health and medical field who have completed a PhD at a Victorian academic or research institute in the past three years.

More information, including full eligibility criteria, can be found in the program guidelines below.

The Awards opened for applications on 22 December 2022. Applications will close at 5 pm on Wednesday, 15 February 2023.

Guidelines and materials

Program guidelines

Reference letter template

Frequently asked questions

The Awards opened for applications on 22 December 2022. Applications will close at 5 pm on Wednesday, 15 February 2023. Finalists and unsuccessful applicants will be notified within approximately one month of the closing date. The Awards ceremony is proposed to be held in May 2023.

Applications are open to current PhD students enrolled at a Victorian academic or research institutions, with a minimum two years into candidature as of November 2022; and Postdoctoral researchers from a Victorian academic or research institutions who graduated in the three years prior to November 2022.

Postdoctoral researchers who graduated in the last four years may also apply if they faced career disruptions to their research for one or more years since graduating, due to extenuating circumstances.

Extenuating circumstances could include parental leave periods or health related disruptions. Circumstances are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Please contact if you are unsure whether you are still eligible. You will be required to provide a signed statement attesting to the disruption.

The Aboriginal Researcher award is open to researchers who have Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent; who also identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person; and are accepted as such by the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community in which they live (or originate).

Yes, if you have completed the equivalent of 24 months’ full-time study in your PhD candidature.

You will need to provide a current Curriculum Vitae (CV), a Project Report highlighting the importance and contribution of your work to health and/or medical research, and two reference letters using the reference letter template Reference Letter Template - 2022 Premier's Awards for Health and Medical Research (DOCX 41.05 KB)DOCX icon provided on this website.

Finalists will be asked to provide proof of Australian or New Zealand citizenship, or permanent residency in Australia.

Yes, you will be required to submit two reference letters from referees who can attest to how you meet the award criteria. Please use the reference letter template provided Reference Letter Template - 2022 Premier's Awards for Health and Medical Research (DOCX 41.05 KB)DOCX icon on the Medical Research website.

No, you will not be able to make changes to your application after it has been submitted. Please prepare your application in advance to ensure you provide all required information.

A selection panel comprised of leading members of the Victorian health and medical research community will review your application in its entirety against three main criteria:

  • Quality and significance of research project outcomes (70%)
  • Applicant’s degree of independence and autonomy (15%); and
  • Demonstrates qualities of an emerging leader in their field (15%).

The Panel will determine finalists and make recommendations to the Minister for Medical Research on category and Premier’s Excellence Award winners.

The prize money is intended to support the ongoing work and development of the recipient; however, it is at the recipient’s discretion how they choose to do this.

More information can be found in the Program Guidelines available on the Medical Research website.

If you require further assistance, please contact us via email:

Apply for the 2022 Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research

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Premier's Awards for Health and Medical Research - 2021 winners

Last year’s award recipients were announced at a ceremony in April 2022. Find out more about the winners and their work below.

Dr Xiaodong Liu
Monash University

Regenerative medicine has the potential to transform healthcare. But until now a key stage in stem cell-based therapeutics needed for safe clinical trials has been inaccurate.

Research by Dr Xiaodong Liu at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute opens the door to improved stem cell-based therapies during early pregnancy, as well as in-cell replacement therapies used to treat diseases such as Parkinson's disease.

Dr Liu’s research also resulted in the creation of a model of human embryos from skin cells, termed an iBlastoid, that can be used to study diseases that affect early development and infertility. Dr Liu’s discovery will transform our ability to study early human development and improve capacity to determine how to manage diseases or complications in the early stages of pregnancy.

Dr Liu’s work also provides opportunities to improve human reproduction technologies through screening for drug toxicity and pathogen susceptibility. Such a breadth of potential advancements means that in the long term, Dr Xiaodong’s research will deliver real-world benefits throughout the community.

For this reason, Dr Liu’s contribution to the design and delivery of this multidisciplinary research project has been recognised in renowned medical research journals and received coverage in scientific media around the world.

Dr Liu was also named the winner of the Basic Science Researcher category.

PAHMR 2021 – Dr Xiaodong Liu

Transcript - Dr Xiaodong Liu, PAHMR 2021 Xiaodong-Liu-video-transcript.docx (DOCX 30.87 KB)DOCX icon

Dr Angela Dos Santos
Australian Stroke Alliance

Stroke is a major contributor to the health gap experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. Whilst awareness of the signs of stroke and causality needs focused attention to reduce incidence rates, other major contributors continue to be the ongoing effects of colonisation, institutional and structural racism as well as prejudices and bias found within health systems.

Dr Angela Dos Santos is Australia’s first Aboriginal neurologist and stroke specialist. As a clinician and researcher, Dr Dos Santos is addressing the unmet needs of First Nations people and families affected by and at risk of stroke.

Research led by Dr Dos Santos is the first to demonstrate low levels of community awareness related to stroke symptoms. It also identified important differences in risk factors, treatment and outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults experiencing stroke.

Dr Dos Santos is leading a national initiative to bring stroke care directly to First Nations communities. As Indigenous Chair of the Australian Stroke Alliance, Dr Dos Santos is bringing CT Brain scanners to the skies and designing an air mobile stroke unit that will reduce time to diagnosis and stroke-related disability in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

This research has major potential to significantly transform and improve stroke outcomes for First Nations people and communities.

PAHMR 2021 – Dr Angela Dos Santos

Transcript - Dr Angela Dos Santos, PAHMR 2021 Angela-Dos-Santos-video-transcript.docx (DOCX 30.8 KB)DOCX icon

Dr Rachel Nelligan
University of Melbourne

Knee osteoarthritis is the most common musculoskeletal condition. It affects more than two million Australians and costs the Australian economy $23 billion every year.

This burden is forecast to increase to unsustainable levels for healthcare systems within 10 years. Despite this, many people with knee osteoarthritis don’t undertake evidence-based recommended treatments, such as strengthening exercise and physical activity.

Research has established this is partly due to problems accessing services and appropriately trained health professionals, as well as the challenges people with knee osteoarthritis face adhering to exercise over time.

PhD research by Dr Rachel Nelligan from the University of Melbourne is helping resolve this urgent issue. As part of her PhD research, Dr Nelligan developed and evaluated a 24-week self-directed, digital exercise approach for people with knee osteoarthritis that requires no health professional involvement.

Findings from the research showed this kind of unsupervised intervention meaningfully improving symptoms such as pain and function, and improved quality of life for sufferers of knee osteoarthritis.

Following the project’s success, Dr Nelligan’s research informed a program that is now available free to the public and has over 12,000 users, including public health outpatient clinics across Australia where demand for osteoarthritis care is typically hard to access. It has also been modified for use overseas, and has been introduced to clinical services in the UK, Japan and China.

PAHMR 2021 – Dr Rachel Nelligan

Dr Rebecca Goldstein
Monash University

Excess or insufficient weight gain in pregnancy can lead to adverse health impacts for the woman and infant, including higher risks of premature birth or necessary caesarean sections. Dr Rebecca Goldstein’s research analysed over a million women to help address key public health gaps and strengthen the case to fund healthy pregnancy programs around the world.

Beyond measuring outcomes for the woman and infant, Dr Goldstein’s research engaged with health professionals to gain their perspectives and to better explore the experience of the pregnant women.

As part of her research, Dr Goldstein analysed over a million women to help address key public health gaps and strengthen the case to fund healthy pregnancy programs around the world.

Dr Goldstein’s research demonstrated the importance and feasibility of multi-disciplinary, real-world lifestyle intervention as part of routine pregnancy care, assisting clinicians to work with women to manage their weight during pregnancy and mitigate complications in pregnancy-related to weight gain or loss.

Dr Goldstein combined personal experience of healthcare with clinical and research skills to help clarify and address existing gaps in public health policies. Dr Goldstein’s research underpins the case to fund projects that will deliver healthy pregnancy programs in Australia and internationally for generations to come.

PAHMR 2021 – Dr Rebecca Goldstein

Transcript - Dr Rebecca Goldstein, PAHMR 2021
Rebecca-Goldstein-video-transcript.docx (DOCX 30.33 KB)DOCX icon

Dr Roshan Selvaratnam
Monash University

Fetal growth restriction is the largest contributor to late pregnancy stillbirth.

Of the Australian jurisdictions, Victoria has led the way to addressing this significant issue by refining health policies to improve detection. For almost 15 years, the Victorian Government has used the public reporting of maternity service performance indicators to make improvements.

Drawing on key information gathered in Victoria, Dr Roshan Selvaratnam’s PhD research found current detection processes only identify 20 per cent of growth restricted fetuses. His work also found that inaccurate identification often leads to unwarranted early deliveries.

These early deliveries are not only unnecessary for pregnant women but can be harmful to children before and after birth, and to their longer-term educational outcomes. Dr Selvaratnam’s research also helps explain why Australia’s stillbirth rate has been stagnant for over two decades.

As a result of this work, new performance measures will be introduced into Victorian hospitals for regular maternity-related reporting, with the intention to roll out these measures around Australia.

This is international first will enable Australia to lead global initiatives to safely reduce stillbirth rates around the world.

PAHMR 2021 – Dr Roshan Selvaratnam

Transcript - Dr Roshan Selvaratnam, PAHMR 2021 Roshan-Selvaratnam-video-transcript.docx (DOCX 30.87 KB)DOCX icon

Dr Christina Zorbas
Deakin University

Unhealthy diets are a major contributor to disease and death in Australia. Many people gravitate towards ‘junk’ food because healthy alternatives are more expensive, making them particularly appealing to communities experiencing limited incomes.

Research has found that as a population, Australians spend 58 per cent of their food budgets on junk foods. Furthermore, there are currently no routine systems to monitor and regulate the affordability of healthy diets in Australia.

Melbourne dietitian, Dr Christina Zorbas, is helping change this. Dr Zorbas’ PhD research aims to improve food equitability by creating fairer opportunities for everyone to access a healthy diet. To achieve this, Dr Zorbas developed an easy way to estimate the affordability of diets for people on low incomes.

This work informed the development of the Victorian Food Stress Index and has been used by key stakeholders including VicHealth, Cancer Council, UNICEF, and the World Health Organisation.

Dr Zorbas continues to work with research partners and the community to help communities get closer to reducing everyday health inequalities around Australia and the world.

PAHMR 2021 – Dr Christina Zorbas

Transcript - Dr Christina Zorbas, PAHMR 2021Christina-Zorbas-video-transcript.docx (DOCX 30.76 KB)DOCX icon

Page last updated: 23 January 2023