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 - Innovation and Translation Intermediary, 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 currently a 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.
Rebekah 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.
Jenny Devlin - Executive Assistant to the Interim Chief Executive Officer
Jenny Devlin is our Executive Assistant to the Interim CEO, Stuart Dignam. She brings extensive experience to the role, coming from AHIC Carrier, where she spent six years as EA to the General Manager and National Operations Manager.
She has previously worked in similar roles at medical imaging company I-Med Network and dairy business Fonterra Australia, and prior to that, was at ExxonMobil for 11 years as EA to General Counsel.
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.
Lauren Kelly - Senior Director, Targeted Translation Research Accelerator (TTRA) initiative
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 Meghana Kulkarni - Project Manager AAMRNet
Dr Meghana Kulkarni is Project Manager of our Australian Antimicrobial Resistance Network, AAMRNet, based in Melbourne. She works closely with AAMRNet co-Chair Andrew Bowskill, our Director of Stakeholder Engagement for Queensland.
Meghana has a Bachelor of Dental Surgery and a Masters of Biomedical and Health Sciences at Monash University, researching breast cancer organoid technology.
In 2021, she completed an internship at MTPConnect as Associate Project Manager working across the Biomedical Translation Bridge program and the Targeted Translational Research Accelerator program - focusing on efficient funding and management of innovative research projects.
In 2020, Meghana undertook an internship at Consciousness-tLAB, Monash Biomedical Imaging. She also holds GCP (WAHTN) and GMP (PharmOut) qualifications.
Dr Mana Liao - Director, Targeted Translation Research Accelerator (TTRA) initiative
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 Michelle Low - Project Manager, Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative
Dr Michelle Low is our REDI Project Manager, based in Melbourne. Previously, Michelle was the Policy and Research Officer at the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) and a Policy Analyst with The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE). Michelle has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa and up until 2018 was a Lecturer of Chemical Engineering there. In 2012, she co-founded a non-profit company called Engineers Without Borders - South Africa and in 2017 she won a community service award.
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.
Dr Erin McAllum - Project Manager, Targeted Translation Research Accelerator (TTRA) initiative
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.
Stephanie Morris - Director Innovation and Translation, Adelaide Intermediary Program
Stephanie Morris is a life-sciences professional with enthusiasm for medical technology commercialisation. Her expertise extends across collaborative research with industry, invention, IP protection, licensing, spin-out formation, investment and venture creation. Most recently, Stephanie led the industry partnerships and translational activities for academic discovery and innovation at Imperial College London’s Faculty of Medicine in the UK, a world top ten university, where she continues as an expert consultant.
Stephanie’s experience spans over 20 years in the sector, having worked within start-up companies and SMEs to large multinational pharmaceutical organisations at operational and governance levels. She brings dexterity from across the full care continuum, including academia, R&D, clinical development, commercialisation, as well as working with patients in both acute and chronic settings in the community.
Stephanie is also Deputy Chair for Cure4CF Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation driven to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. She holds a MBA from the University of South Australia, is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD), a Certified Licensing Professional (CLP), and has graduate qualifications in both Business and Biomedical Science.
Dr Andionne Parlade - Associate Project Manager, Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) Program
Dr Andionne Parlade is our Associate Project Manager for the Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) Program.
Andionne 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.
In 2021, she completed an internship at MTPConnect as a Project Officer for the Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) Initiative.
Libby Pearce - Communications and Digital Projects Manager
Libby Pearce has over 20 years’ experience working in administrative, analytical and training roles across the automotive, accounting and online training industries. She has worked for Ford Motor Company, CPDLive, Xero, Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, and CPA Australia. As an experienced Executive Assistant she enjoys analytical work, streamlining processes, and most of all, supporting people.
Her role as Communications and Digital Projects Manager allows her to apply her cross-functional knowledge across various MTPConnect projects and events. Libby holds a Bachelor of Business (Human Resources).
Kevin Rajasekaran - Associate Project Manager, Clinical Translation and Commercialisation – MedTech (CTCM) Program
Kevin Rajasekaran is our Associate Project Manager for the Clinical Translation and Commercialisation – MedTech Program.
Kevin holds a Master of Biomedical and Health Science from Monash University with a major in Neuroscience, courtesy of a research project in the field of cognitive neuroscience, as well as a Bachelor of Biotechnology from SMVIT India specialising in computational biology.
As a research scientist, Kevin has worked for two startups, focusing on designing drugs and enzymes solely using in-silico technologies. Outside of his expertise in computational and electrophysiological techniques, Kevin is also trained in GCP, GMP, GLP and pharmacovigilance practices. In 2021, Kevin was selected for an internship with MTPConnect’s Stakeholder Engagement Team.
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.
Dr Vishal Srivastava - Director, BioMedTech Horizons Program
Dr Vishal C. Srivastava has 20 years of experience in the biotechnology sector, as a scientist, and in R&D investment, collaboration/partnerships, business development and technology transfer. Vishal’s international career includes roles in Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
After taking on a scientist/business development role at HortResearch in Hamilton, he became an Investment Manager at New Zealand Government’s largest R&D investment agency – the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. In Australia, he was part of the Deakin Research Commercial Division at Deakin University, where he was responsible for business development in nano-materials. He has a PhD in Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering (Massey University) and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.
Elizabeth Stares - Director, BioMedTech Horizons Program, Corporate Reporting and Risk Management
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 - Senior Program Manager, Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) Program
Dr Amelia Vom is our Senior Program Manager for the BTB program, based in Melbourne.
As a project manager in the area of drug discovery, Amelia was previously 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).
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.