Brawn fellows leading the world in health research

Monday, 26 April 2021

One man’s desire to honour his wife continues to change the lives of millions of people across Australia and the world.

Illustration of Harold and Gladys Brawn

In 1985, Harold Brawn began donating his possessions and money to the University in honour of his wife Gladys. His subsequent $5 million bequest supports a variety of projects in the health discipline and funds the Gladys M. Brawn Senior Research Fellowship, supporting outstanding scientists with an international reputation in their field. Meet some of our Brawn Senior Fellows who continue to honour this legacy by making the world a better place for us all.

The Gladys M Brawn Memorial Bequest enables our leading research teams across the University to help more Australians live healthier, longer, happier lives. We are so grateful for the support and I am honoured to have been a Senior Brawn fellow.”
Laureate Professor Clare Collins

The Gladys M Brawn Memorial Fellowship Scheme was established from a gift in the will of Harold Brawn, to provide a permanent memory of his much-loved wife, Gladys. The Brawn Fellowships support a variety of projects in health by attracting and retaining outstanding career scientists to the University of Newcastle's College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing.

Leading the nutrition revolution

As the most published and most cited dietitian in the world, Laureate Professor Clare Collins (PhD (Medicine and Health Science) 1999; Graduate Diploma in Clinical Epidemiology 1996) is improving the world's foodand nutrition-related health with her straightforward message: do everything possible to arm people with good information that helps them eat better, feel better and live a healthier lifestyle. She collaborates with researchers all over the world to advance public health policy on nutrition. Her current projects include the No Money No Time website ( packed with quick, cheap and healthy meal ideas and evidence-based resources aimed at 18-25 year olds.

Trailblazing support for mental health

Renowned mental health researcher Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin (PhD (Psychiatry) 2006; Bachelor of Science (Psychology) 1998) leads a global team of researchers, clinicians and industry partners changing the way we deliver programs to support people with mental health and substance use problems. Recent projects have shown how digital technologies can effectively deliver integrated treatments directly to people in need. In the face of critical shortfalls in mental health service availability, particularly for young people, this online intervention is helping to address depression and binge drinking in young Australians.

Decyphering complex diseases

Most common health problems don’t have a single cause. Professor Murray Cairns’ new approach to studying the onset of complex diseases, including heart disease, inflammatory conditions and cancer, could mark the beginning of targeted prevention and treatment options that ease the distress, discomfort, disability and mortality associated with them. A recent project sought to identify whether simple dietary changes and existing drugs used for other disorders could help ease the symptoms for millions of people currently living with schizophrenia.

Debunking myths around bites and stings

Clinical toxicology researcher Professor Geoffrey Isbister’s domain is the much-feared world of venomous creatures. His research challenges long-held views about the treatment of poisoned and envenomed patients, including whether anti-venom actually works, prompting clinicians to review the evidence for various treatments. His recent work includes a national snake bite study focused on developing diagnostic approaches to bites; while a previous study changed the Australian Resuscitation Council’s recommendations for the first aid treatment of blue bottle stings.

Our gifts in wills brochure is a guide to making a lasting impact beyond your lifetime. To receive your free copy, contact Maria Pavela on 02 4921 8612  or email

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.