MTPConnect Team

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MTPConnect is supported by a talented executive team

Stuart Dignam - Chief Executive Officer

Formerly MTPConnect’s Chief Operating Officer, Stuart Dignam joined the organisation in August 2018, playing an integral role in building the organisation and designing and developing successful MRFF funding programs to drive growth in Australia’s MTP sector. In January 2022 he served the role of Interim CEO until April 2022, when he was appointed CEO. 

Stuart is an accomplished corporate executive with experience across operations, finance, policy in the public and private sectors, media, communications and issues management. Mr Dignam has held a number of senior positions, including General Manager, Policy & Corporate Affairs at CPA Australia, Queensland Deputy Trade & Investment Commissioner for the Americas and Executive Director, Office of the Director-General of Premier and Cabinet in Queensland.

He has worked as a broadcaster for ABC Radio and as a government media and policy advisor. He created MTPConnect’s popular podcast series, one of the first in Australia to showcase the people and issues shaping the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (MTP) sector in Australia and globally.

Lisa Dubé - Chief Operating Officer

With over 20 years’ experience in the biotechnology sector, Lisa Dubé brings extensive stakeholder and project management, governance, commercialisation, finance and business development expertise to the role of Chief Operating Officer. Her experience extends to translating early drug discovery research into commercial outcomes and managing research collaborations with the pharmaceutical sector.

Lisa most recently served as Deputy and Acting CEO at the Cancer Therapeutics CRC (Collaborative Research Centre). She was Finance Director and Company Secretary at CTX Group, Business Manager at the CRC for Mental Health and previously a Clinical Laboratory Manager at the Burnet Institute, a Research Scientist at the Australian Genome Research Facility and a Research Technician at the WEHI in Melbourne.

Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science (Biochemistry Honours) and an MBA - Entrepreneurship Business Development from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. She is a Graduate Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jarrod Belcher - Director, Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative

Jarrod Belcher is our Director of the REDI program, based in Melbourne. Previously, Jarrod was General Manager - Middle East North Africa for Site Group International, an ASX listed company providing Australian accredited and non-accredited training programs around the world. Throughout his career, he has been a passionate workforce development professional committed to assisting companies and industries achieve their potential through skilling workforces, across the Pacific, Asia and Middle East to government, NGO and corporate clients utilising innovative practices to embed and apply newly developed skills and behaviours. 

He has led the delivery of the first vocational Bachelor of Biotechnology program delivered in TAFE and the delivery of biotechnology qualifications into China. Jarrod has a background in the biosciences with a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Melbourne, and postgraduate qualifications in training and education and competitive manufacturing.

Dana Bell - Partnerships Director SA, Adelaide Intermediary Program 

Dana has more than 20 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry across sales, partnerships and strategy. Her experience in multi-national companies is complemented by Board membership, business innovation and wellbeing roles in community organisations. She has led strategic partnerships that delivered results for a variety of stakeholders across the health sector in South Australia (SA) and beyond.

Dana holds a Bachelor of Science and range of certifications in innovation and management. She is driven by trailblazing and social impact, together with her passion for the SA ecosystem.

Andrew Bowskill - Director Stakeholder Engagement Queensland

Andrew Bowskill is our Director of Stakeholder Engagement for Queensland, working from the MTPConnect office at the Translational Research Institute (TRI) in Woolloongabba, Brisbane. Andrew joins us from Medicines Australia, where he was Manager of Industry and Regulatory Policy, engaging with a broad cross section of stakeholders including consumer groups, companies, peak bodies and Commonwealth and State officials. 

As well as his extensive networks, Andrew brings deep understanding of MTP industry and regulatory policy including R&D policy, intellectual property, trade agreements and biosimilars. Andrew has a Bachelor of Pharmacy from the University of Otago and has held a number of pharmacy roles in Queensland including Clinical Pharmacist, Adult Emergency and Medical Admissions and Planning Unit, Mater Pharmacy Services and Team Leader, Mater Private Hospital Pharmacy.

Jo Close - Director Adelaide Intermediary Program 

Jo Close is a health and medical scientist with deep experience in the health, medical technologies and pharmaceuticals sector, driving and delivering high impact initiatives.

Jo's extensive experience in strategy, analysis, business planning and management in the research sector has been developed across 20 years working for universities, research organisations, investors, startup companies, community organisations and charities in a range of roles and discipline areas to lead and drive new innovations with strategic intention.

Jo co-founded the Medical Device Partnering Program at Flinders University in 2009 with Professor Karen Reynolds and is the former Non-Executive Director (Former Chair) for Cure4 Cystic Fibrosis.

She holds a Bachelor of Biotechnology (Honours), Flinders University, has completed the Company Director’s Course and is a fellow of the Governor’s Leadership Foundation.

Dr Ashwin Dhanasekaran - Project Manager, Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative 

Ashwin is an experienced project engineer with 6+ years of experience in co-designing and implementing a wide range of medical devices in the manufacturing and healthcare sector in South Australia.

Ashwin holds a Bachelor of Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering from Anna University, India, a Masters in Biomedical Engineering from University of Surrey, United Kingdom, and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Flinders University, South Australia. He completed his PhD in Biomedical Engineering with Flinders focussing on reducing failures in revision knee replacements. Upon completion he worked as a research and development engineer for an industry 4.0 manufacturing start-up where he created anatomically accurate 3D printed human models for surgical training. He then worked with SA Health in strategic planning, and implementation of new digital health strategies within the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network (SALHN) and Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN). Ashwin has expertise in orthopaedic biomechanics, 3D printing, and digital health, with an interest in healthcare and innovative technologies that could improve healthcare in Australia.

Caroline Duell - Director Media and Communications 

Caroline Duell holds an impressive skill set and extensive background in communications and media management in the non-profit and corporate sectors in Australia and internationally.

In the MTP sector, Caroline has worked as Public Affairs Lead, Australia and New Zealand, at Bristol-Myers Squibb Australia and as Corporate Communications Director at GSK's global headquarters, based in the UK. 

She has also managed corporate communication activities at Fonterra Australia, the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and a number of public relations consulting firms specialising in corporate affairs and health.

Caroline holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne where she majored in economics and commercial law.

Dr Gerard Gibbs - Senior Director, BioMedTech Horizons Program

Dr Gerard Gibbs is our Senior Director of the BioMedTech Horizons program, based at the MTPConnect Head Office in Melbourne. He is responsible for the overall project management, delivery, promotion and reporting the program. Prior to joining MTPConnect, he was the Asia Pacific Senior Business Development Lead and Product Specialist at Agilent Technologies. 

Gerard was also a Program Manager at Biomedical Research Victoria leading and delivering a strategic State Government-funded program that created a marketing platform, training program and business tools supporting research and innovation across Victoria. With a background in biological sciences research, he was a highly published Post-Doctoral Scientist and Senior Research Officer at Monash University.

Jo Glew - Project Officer, Diagnostics Industry Engagement

Jo Glew has over 20 years experience in coordination and administration roles with a range of organizations, bringing strong planning and organisational skills to her role as Project Officer with our Australian Diagnostic Action Plan Team (ADAPT).

Recently, Jo worked with the MTPConnect WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub in Perth, as Project Officer managing the coordination of WA Minister Stephen Dawson’s life sciences mission to the US. The Minister, who holds the portfolios of Innovation and ICT and Medical Research, led a delegation in June 2022 to the BIO International Convention in San Diego and visited a number of other US cities for meetings to advance and promote WA’s life sciences sector.

Jo holds strong planning and organisational skills, developed over 20 years through administration and coordination roles at a range of organisations, including a start-up software technology company which saw her relocate to the USA (California and Washington) for three years.

Rebekah Hinton (née Craggs) - Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator Western Australia

Rebekah Craggs joins our team as our Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator WA assisting our Director Stakeholder Engagement WA, Dr Tracey Wilkinson. Working in partnership with the WA State Government and UWA, her role will be key in developing and delivering events, assisting the vision and goals of the national MTPConnect team, and working across all areas of WA industry to increase participation, engagement, and innovation within the life sciences.

Rebekah has worked at Curtin University and Innovation Central Perth on various Industry 4.0 projects and in placements at Horizon Power, the Perth Symphony Orchestra, and The Valuing Children Initiative. Rebekah graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Arts from Curtin University, majoring in marketing and creative writing.

Lauren Kelly - Senior Director, Targeted Translation Research Accelerator (TTRA) Program

Lauren Kelly is our Senior Director of the TTRA initiative, based in Melbourne. Lauren specialises in the translation of science and technology and has extensive experience in developing, leading, and managing new initiatives, multidisciplinary teams, biobanks, pre-clinical and clinical R&D projects. 

Before joining MTPConnect, Lauren’s roles involved coordinating multinational, industry and academic drug discovery and translational research programs centring around metabolism and cardiovascular disease at Monash University. In addition, she developed and directed industry engagement initiatives for the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.

Prior to her time at Monash, Lauren managed the research portfolio of the Cooperative Research Centre for Mental Health, with work focused on the discovery and validation of biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and mood disorders. Lauren has a Bachelor of Science and Master of Business (Science and Technology) from Monash University, and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance.

Dr Michelle Lam - Senior Program Manager, Clinical Translation and Commercialisation MedTech (CTCM) Program

Dr Michelle Lam is a Senior Program Manager for the Clinical Translation and Commercialisation Medtech (CTCM) Program.

Michelle’s experience in research support has seen her provide project and operational management in both basic and clinical research settings at Monash University, WEHI (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research) and most recently, at The University of Melbourne’s Department of Surgery as a Centre Manager for Research Excellence in Total Joint Replacement.

Michelle completed a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science (Honours) and a PhD in Pharmacology and Physiology at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Monash University) before moving overseas to complete postdoctoral training. She received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Dr Mana Liao - Director, Targeted Translation Research Accelerator (TTRA) Program

Dr Mana Liao is our Director of the TTRA initiative, based in Sydney. With a background as a technology commercialisation professional, Mana has extensive experience working at the interface of medical research, commercialisation and life science investment. Previously, Mana was the Innovation Manager at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, tracking multidisciplinary research areas including genomics, cancer, diabetes, immunology and neuroscience, across the institute and collaborative research centres to file patents, build industry partnerships, manage the IP portfolio, establish pre-spin-offs, lead teams of bio-entrepreneurs and procure commercialisation funding.

In prior roles at the University of Sydney, as a Commercialisation Officer and a Business Development Manager she supported technology innovation and championed industry engagement to academics. Mana holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours (Molecular Biology and Genetics) from the University of Sydney, a Ph.D. in Medicine from the University of New South Wales and a Masters of Intellectual Property from University of Technology Sydney. Mana’s post-doctoral research, at the Garvan Institute, involved identification and validation of novel drug targets for diabetes and obesity.

Dr Duncan Macinnis - Director Stakeholder Engagement New South Wales and ACT

Dr Duncan Macinnis has extensive experience in scientific research, development and commercialisation and external engagement. He was most recently Business Development Manager for the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, responsible for industry engagement activities with the University’s researchers, multinational pharmaceutical and medtech companies, affiliated medical research institutes and NSW local health districts. 

In a prior role at University of Sydney, he was Commercialisation Officer for the Science, Medicine and Health, and Engineering faculties. He has also held a number of commercial roles, including Commercial Manager at Vectus Biosystems Ltd and Accugen Pty Ltd (ASX: VBS), a drug discovery company developing novel anti-hypertensive and anti-fibrotic drugs, and at ESL Biosciences and Phenomenex Australia. He has also worked at UNSW’s Grants Management Office. Duncan holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Western Sydney, a Bachelor of Advanced Science with Honours (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) from UNSW and a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from the Australian Institute of Business.

Jessica Maxwell - Administration and Events Officer, Adelaide Intermediary Program

Jessica Maxwell is an experienced office administrator and event management coordinator. Recently she managed events, functions and accommodation at a popular South Australian vineyard destination and reception centre. She has previously worked in administration and office coordination in the health and home trade services sector within Adelaide.

Jessica brings solid event management experience and a professional customer service approach to the role, supporting the Adelaide team’s endeavours to connect the health and life sciences ecosystem and deliver a regular series of events. 

Dr Erin McAllum - Associate Director, Targeted Translation Research Accelerator (TTRA) Program

Dr Erin McAllum is our Project Manager of the Targeted Translation Research Accelerator (TTRA) initiative.

Prior to joining the team at MTPConnect, Erin spent four years leading a research project at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health to discover the role of biological metals in dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Her research has also contributed to the pre-clinical development of a novel therapeutic for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, now in clinical trials in Australia. Erin has a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Otago in New Zealand and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Melbourne.

Dr Dharmica Mistry - Director Diagnostics Industry Engagement

Dr Dharmica Mistry is the Director Diagnostics Industry Engagement, based in Sydney.

Dharmica is an impact driven scientist and entrepreneur. She is co-founder and ex-Chief Scientist of BCAL Diagnostics and was previously Head of Medtech and Biotech at Cicada Innovations.

Dharmica spent over a decade taking research discovery through to commercialisation, developing a safe, cost-effective blood test for breast cancer detection and building national and international collaborations. She then went on to support the medical innovation ecosystem through a number of startup and scaleup programs, providing mentorship and coaching for researchers, entrepreneurs and founding teams looking to commercialise their impactful technologies.

Dharmica holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from University of Sydney and a PhD in Medicine from Macquarie University. She is the recipient of a number of awards including the NSW Young Women of the Year Award 2016, Australian Technologies Competition - Peoples’ Choice 2017; Australian Financial Review BOSS Young Executive of the Year 2016 and Macquarie University Alumni Award for Health and Medicine 2019.

Tori Mynard - Associate Project Manager, Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative

Tori is working with MTPConnect’s skills and workforce development initiative, REDI, based in Melbourne, after completing a successful 2-month internship with our BioMedTech Horizons program.

Tori completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at the University of Canberra and relocated to Melbourne, where she recently completed a Master of Biomedical and Health Science at Monash University and undertook an internship at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute in the Rose laboratory investigating the novel aspects of nutrient restriction in diabetic mice models.

Tamlyn O’Connor - International Markets and Engagement Manager

Tamlyn O’Connor is a life-sciences industry professional with an extensive background in industry development and  communications roles within the private and public sectors. 

She has expertise in developing the human life sciences industry, nurturing international networks and collaborations, and pursuing strategic alliances for both commercial and research partnerships.

She was most recently the Relationships & Operations Manager for the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Partnering Office at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), identifying Queensland-based translational research / technology opportunities for consideration of collaboration with and investment from J&J. She was responsible for implementing an ecosystem activation program of engagement, networking and training strategy to support innovators, entrepreneurs, academics and investors across the Queensland life science community.

Tamlyn has also held business development roles with Life Sciences Queensland and Trade and Investment Queensland.

Tamlyn holds a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from Griffith University and a Post Graduate Certificate of Public Sector Management from QUT.

Dr Andionne Parlade - Project Manager, Clinical Translation and Commercialisation Medtech Program

Dr Andionne (Didi) Parlade is our Project Manager for the Clinical Translation and Commercialisation Medtech (CTCM) Program.

Didi holds a Bachelor of Psychology and a Doctor of Medicine, initially working as a general practitioner in the Philippines. As a physician scientist, she undertook a genomic study on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, before pursuing a Masters in Biomedical and Health Sciences at Monash University, majoring in Neuroscience courtesy of a behavioural neuroscience research project on schizophrenia.

She joined MTPConnect through a two-month internship as a Project Officer for the Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) Initiative, and previously worked as Associate Project Manager of the Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) Program up to the program's completion in 2022, and then as Associate Project Manager with the Targeted Translation Research Accelerator for Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease (TTRA).

Dr Natalie Rickers - Commercialisation Director South Australia

Natalie is a molecular biologist and industry professional with international experience in bringing health products and technologies to global markets. With a PhD in Microbiology from Manchester University, post-doctoral research in Switzerland and more than 18 years in biotech, she has led successful global sales teams from the ground up. Her passion lies in strategy - developing strong, cohesive sales and marketing tactics to drive growth in international markets.

Natalie has led global sales and marketing teams, bringing new products and technologies to the market in the microbiome, genetics and genomics space. Natalie’s previous role in Business Development for Invitae involved expanding biopharma programs, scaling international distributors and working with patient advocacy groups in Asia Pacific region.

Natalie was a member of the 2023 Women In Leadership Development program (WILD program) and recently completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Course. She is a passionate advocate for women in STEM, mentoring PhD students to provide insights into industry.

Danielle Shand - Director, Clinical Translation and Commercialisation MedTech (CTCM) Program 

Danielle has worked in business operations within the pharmaceutical industry and has more than 15 years of background experience in business administrative management. During this time she has continually evolved and developed enhanced leadership skills for working in today’s digital and agile environments. 

At Pfizer, she played an integral role in shaping, developing and growing the Australia and New Zealand Oncology Business Unit (ANZOBU) platform and its people. Danielle worked collaboratively to ensure strategic planning, budgeting and operation initiatives within marketing were executed, monitored and that the deliverables were in alignment with the priorities and Pfizer’s imperatives. Through active leadership in a matrix environment she drove internal / external communication campaigns, carried out important project management and business analysis work to ensure that goals, objectives and growth projections were achieved.

Deborah Sippitts – Senior Manager Communications

Deborah is a media and communications professional with extensive experience including journalism, public relations and stakeholder engagement. Originally from the UK, she worked as a journalist and editor on a range of publications including technology, music, lifestyle and news. In Australia, she has worked in senior communications roles in health, STEM, education, not-for-profit, energy and transport, including roles at RMIT University, Monash University, and Science in Australia Gender Equity.

Deborah holds a Bachelor of Arts (Media Studies) (Hons) from the University of Westminster. She volunteers for Breastscreen Victoria as a member of the Consumer Network, reviewing communications from a consumer perspective.

Elizabeth Stares - Director, BioMedTech Horizons Program and Corporate Reporting

Elizabeth is an accomplished product designer, specialising in designing medical devices, surgical tools and consumer products for UK and worldwide markets, and is a lead inventor on multiple in-force US patent families. Elizabeth’s medical and consumer devices project management experience has seen her leading and delivering large EU-Government funded projects with numerous partners across multiple countries, and projects values up to $2.7 million. 

Following a move to Australia in 2010, a role in a design consultancy and as a product design advisor to various start-up companies, she worked with the MTPConnect Chair to determine the need and remit for the Growth Centre, and manage its establishment. 

Elizabeth is now the Director for the BioMedTech Horizons Program, Corporate Reporting and Risk Management. This involves working on current and future MTPConnect projects; focusing on projects that solve constraints and gaps in the sector or build national capacity, all sharing in a funding pool of $15.6 million as well as working with MTPConnect’s other program to ensure key deliverables are met.

Natalie Vella - Social Media Specialist, Communications

Natalie Vella is our Social Media Specialist, based in Melbourne. She manages our social media channels, digital communications and is a key member of our podcast team. 

Natalie has an extensive media and communications background, having worked at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Fitzroy Legal Service. In 2017, she launched her podcast, Memoria and for five years hosted and produced over fifty-five episodes. Memoria was a finalist in the 2019 Australian Podcast Awards. Natalie holds an Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing from RMIT.

Pia Vogrin - Engagement and Communications Manager, Adelaide Intermediary Program

Pia is an engagement, events and communications professional with more than 20 years' experience gained in the private, government, and not-for-profit sector. She has delivered a variety of community activations, programs and campaigns which have contributed to achieving strategic outcomes for project stakeholders, attract funding, and engage communities. 

Pia’s extensive skills and experience include stakeholder relations, strategic events, communications and marketing. Most recently Pia worked within South Australian local government successfully delivering an events and engagement program, establishing valued partnerships, building capacity of community event organisers and facilitating collaboration to value-add existing programs across a breadth of diverse business sectors and areas.

Pia served as a committee member of the Local Government Event Networkers group which aims to build the skills, networks and experience of council event colleagues through organised networking events and professional development programs. Pia holds a Diploma of Business Management and Marketing and has facilitated and delivered event certification training.

Dr Amelia Vom - Director, Health and Biosecurity Strategy

Dr Amelia Vom is our Director of Health and Biosecurity Strategy, based in Melbourne. She is leading a new initiative focused on connecting Defence and National Security agencies with researchers, clinicians and industry to enable greater coordination, collaboration, integration and scale of targeted initiatives. Better linking these critical national priorities with industry capabilities has the potential to deliver economic and employment growth opportunities for Australia, underpinned by a networked and highly skilled workforce and its links to international initiatives.

Amelia joined MTPConnect in November 2020 and in her previous role of Senior Program Manager of Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) program, she has been instrumental in successfully delivering this $22.3 million MRFF program to conclusion in September 2022. The BTB program was the first of its kind in Australia with industry mentors and commercialisation experts to nurture the next generation of health and medical research innovators - 21 projects delivering 29 new technologies invented or progressed, seven new products launched, and 56 new jobs created. She was responsible for overseeing the program delivery, governance, industry partnerships, risk management, finance and reporting.

Amelia has more than 10 years’ experience in the medical research and biotechnology sector, working previously as a Research Manager for the Cancer Therapeutics CRC, a co-operative cancer research centre at the Parkville precinct in Melbourne, and a Medicinal Chemistry Coordinator at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI). As a medical researcher, she spent three years leading a research project at WEHI for the development of anticancer therapies. Amelia holds a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Dr Tracey Wilkinson - Director Stakeholder Engagement Western Australia

Tracey joins from the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth where she was the Commercialisation and Partnerships Manager in the Research Development team, responsible for identifying, assessing, developing and commercialising opportunities with a focus on sponsored research activities and the building of large-scale engagement and strategic initiatives. During her time there she also co-founded and led the WA Digital Health Accelerator pilot program.

Tracey has a background in molecular genetics, gaining a PhD in Bioinformatics from the University of Melbourne, based at the Howard Florey & Walter and Eliza Hall Institutes. Prior to her PhD, she was also the Co-Founder of an online bioinformatics analysis service. Her business development experience was with Melbourne Ventures at the University of Melbourne, where she worked to commercialise early stage technologies and IP developed at the University.