Thank you and farewell Morag9 February 2017
The Victorian Infection and Immunity Network had its roots in the Monash Infection and Immunity Network (MIIN), when the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University provided funding to establish a number of cross-disciplinary networks in 2004. The MIIN brought together Monash, Burnet Institute, Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory and CSIRO scientists in areas of emerging research strength relating to immunology and infectious diseases. Led by Paul Hertzog and Ben Adler, the VIIN / MIIN employed Morag Milton in 2006 as its first Project Officer and held its first workshop, with approximately 30 participants.
“In the last 10 years of working with VIIN, one of the highlights for me has been seeing the collaborations that emerged in those first few years of VIIN go from strength to strength. Scientists with expertise in microbiology and scientists with expertise in pharmaceutical sciences met at that first workshop and have gone on to do incredible projects with high impact and real-world applications, funded by NHMRC, NIH and a diversity of other sources,” says Morag.
Photo: Morag Milton, Niamh Mangan and Michelle Tate at the 2016 Lorne Infection and Immunity Conference.
In 2009, the MIIN became VIIN with the addition of the University of Melbourne and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, at which time, Elizabeth Hartland joined the network as its co-convenor. Over the past eight years, Deakin University, Swinburne University, the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science, the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Doherty Institute and Hudson Institute have also joined the network.
The first annual Lorne Infection and Immunity Conference was held in 2012, attended by over 200 scientists and since 2008, an annual student, post-doctoral or combined ECR symposium has been held to provide opportunities for young investigators to present their work.
“Aside from the seeing how projects have developed, another highlight has been seeing people develop. Some of the young investigators who were awarded prizes at MIIN’s and VIIN’s early symposia are now lab heads who publish in the best scientific journals. It’s been rewarding to see the careers of students and ECRs take off and it’s great that the VIIN has been there to recognise their scientific contributions along the way and play a small part in their career development.”
In addition to the Lorne Infection and Immunity Conference and the yearly Young Investigator Symposium, Morag has managed VIIN’s annual Careers Evenings for ECRs since 2013 and a re-development of the VIIN website in 2014. In 2012, VIIN begin a program of industry engagement activities which has since run in a complementary fashion to its scientific, networking and career development events. In late 2016, a number of ECRs from VIIN’s contributing organisations were invited to participate in an “Ask Industry Anything” event, hosted by the BioMelbourne Network.
Since 2006, Morag has been responsible for managing VIIN’s activities and communication in consultation with the network’s convenors and executive committee. Under her management, the VIIN has grown from a small network of 30 researchers based at Monash University, to a network of 1000+ scientists and students across Victoria. VIIN counts over 15 departments, institutes, universities and other research organisations as its contributing members, and it is thanks to Morag that the network continues to grow and serve such a broad range of stakeholders. We wish Morag well in her new career in immigration law and thank her immensely for the fundamental role she has had in VIIN’s success over the past 10 years. To keep in touch with Morag, please used LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/morag-milton-0992085a
Rebecca Smith and Deborah Bianco are now taking up the role of VIIN Project Officers. Rebecca has worked closely with Morag over the past four years, taking responsibility for VIIN’s Industry Alliance and its program of industry engagement activities. Deborah has a background in managing a node of the Australian Phenomics Network and is looking forward to meeting all of you at the next VIIN event.