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Congratulations to two of the most renowned researchers at the Heart Research Institute (HRI), Prof Ben Freedman OAM and Assoc Prof Mary Kavurma, who were among the four finalists for the 2023 Australian Cardiovascular Alliance (ACvA) Mentor Award.

The award recognises individuals who have made significant contributions to the research profession through outstanding mentoring.

“The Mentor Award honours the integral role guidance, support and the sharing of knowledge play in supporting our next generation of researchers, promoting a positive culture and building a sustainable research sector,” said ACvA on their website.

Both Prof Freedman and Assoc Prof Kavurma have displayed extraordinary leadership and guidance for their students and staff, and the entire HRI team.

They were both in attendance at the Awards ceremony held at the Victorian Heart Hospital in Melbourne, that were introduced by the Honourable Ged Kearney MP, Assistant Minister for Health & Aged Care. They were honoured as finalists alongside Prof Andrew Murphy, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, who won the award, and Prof Chris Sobey, Centre for Cardiovascular Biology and Disease Research at La Trobe University.

Prof Freedman, HRI’s Director of External Affairs and leader of the Heart Rhythm and Stroke Prevention Group, has a remarkable 40-year history of mentoring that spans various fields, including cardiology, academia, professional organisations and healthcare leadership.

His influence has shaped the careers of many people, with over 40 cardiology Fellows and Registrars benefiting from his mentorship. Many of his mentees have gone on to become leaders in cardiology globally.

While he is globally recognised as a leader in atrial fibrillation research and has a long list of accolades and awards, including an Order of Australia, Prof Freedman considers his students his most important legacy.

“My PhD students, my staff, the people who have trained with me, all of these people will be my greatest legacy. And they are probably a greater achievement than all the things that I've ever done.

“I’m so passionate about bringing up the next generation of researchers, the emerging leaders, because they are the ones who are going to complete the task.”

Assoc Prof Mary Kavurma, leader of HRI’s Vascular Complications Group, is a distinguished figure in cardiovascular research whose commitment extends to nurturing the careers of students, postdocs, and researchers within HRI and the wider cardiovascular research community.

She has delivered multiple invited career development seminars and actively participates in programs especially supporting women in science, such as mentorship programs for Franklin Women and ACvA.

She continuously advocates for young postdocs, serving on review panels, and excels as a balanced postgraduate supervisor, tailoring strategies for realistic and optimal outcomes based on individual needs.

“I am truly honoured to be a finalist for this award,” she said. “I love supporting our early career researchers, particularly women in STEM, and being involved in mentorship programs that empower and support women throughout their scientific careers.”

Congratulations Mary and Ben!

About the ACvA Awards

The ACvA Excellence in Cardiovascular Research Awards were set up to celebrate and highlight the leadership, collaboration and innovation taking place within the cardiovascular research sector.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) including heart, stroke and vascular diseases, are the leading cause of deaths globally. In Australia, one in five deaths are from CVD. Research excellence and impact are vital in the ongoing fight against CVD.


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