History by category: Mater Research

The beginning of Mater Research

In 1982, the John P Kelly Research Foundation was established to encourage research within Mater.

In July 1998, following years of planning to establish a first class research facility on the Mater campus, a world-wide search was launched for a leading scientist to direct Mater Medical Research Institute, culminating in the appointment of its first director, Professor Derek Hart. His focus was on dendritic cells—specialised white blood cells that play a critical role in initiating immune response. Effective cancer immunotherapy through manipulation of stem cells became a central goal for Mater Medical Research Institute.

On 4 March 1999, Mater Medical Research Institute was officially opened by the Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency Sir William Deane and blessed by the Archbishop of Brisbane, The Most Reverend John Bathersby, DD. 

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Advancing Mater Research

In 2001, Mater's Mucin research team discovered the MUC13 gene, important to colorectal cancer, which gained international recognition.

Two years later, then Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, launched Mater Prostate Cancer Research Centre, thanks to a A$1 million donation by Brisbane businessman, Bill Siganto.

In October 2009, Professor John Prins was appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer and Institute Director of Mater Medical Research Institute (MMRI). On 4 March 2014, Mater Research, formerly Mater Medical Research Institute, celebrated its 15th anniversary. From humble beginnings, with just 10 staff, Mater Research has grown into internationally-recognised institute with many original research programs attracting top scientists from around the globe and more than 250 research staff, postgraduate students and honorary clinical researchers.

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News by category: Mater Research

Six decades of mentoring honoured

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Sister Michaeleen Ahern is a familiar face at Mater.

In a career spanning more than six decades, she has held positions as varied as surgical theatre nurse, Executive Director, Mater Private Hospital Brisbane, a member of the Redevelopment Planning Team for the Mater Private Children’s Hospital and Mater Mothers’ Hospitals, and the community leader at the Mater Convent.

What has remained constant across all these roles during the past 63 years is her commitment to teaching and
mentoring Mater People. It is for this commitment that ‘Sr M’, as she is affectionately known, recently became
the fourth Sister of Mercy to have a Mater Research Medal named in her honour.

The medals are presented at the annual Mater Research Awards for Excellence and the Sr Michaeleen M Ahern Medal is awarded to the researcher who has shown excellence in student supervision.

Mater Research Deputy Director, Professor Mike McGuckin said naming the Medals for Research Excellence is a way to pay homage to the exceptional Sisters of Mercy who have been crucial in the development of Mater Research. 

“Creating an institute to foster the next generation of medical research was the original vision of the Sisters of
Mercy,” he said.

“It is a pleasure to recognise Sr Michaeleen for her spirit of generosity in mentoring many staff members.

“Teaching and sharing information plays an integral role in the field of research and Sr Michaeleen’s leadership in this area is something we strive to foster within Mater Research.”

Sr Michaeleen joins Sr Madonna Josey, Sr Eileen Pollard and Sr Regis Mary Dunne in having a medal named in her honour.

Sr Michaeleen’s lengthy tenure at Mater, which began with nursing training in 1952, has given her a unique perspective on the changes in healthcare and science.

“I studied maths, physics and chemistry at All Hallows’and I had been planning to go into medicine,” she said.

“I instead chose nursing on the spur of the moment after visiting a friend of mine at Mater when I was 17 years
old,” she said.

In 2004 Sr Michaeleen received the Medal of the Order of Australia in the general division for service to the
community through project planning, development and the administration of Mater's hospitals in Brisbane.

Tags: Mater Research, Sisters of Mercy