Governance Committee

The Kolling Institute is an unincorporated joint venture between the Northern Sydney Local Health District and the University of Sydney. Governance is provided by the Kolling Institute Governance Committee that meets on a monthly basis and provides guidance and oversight with respect to strategy and operations of the Kolling Institute, including the Work Health and Safety of all who work in the Institute.​

Governance Committee Members

Michael Nugent, FCPA FAICD. Chair

Michael Nugent is Chairman of the Governance Committee of the Kolling Institute. He was previously Chief Executive Officer and an Executive Director of Goodman Fielder Limited, Australia’s largest food company and was prior to that, the Managing Director of Elders Agribusiness the major commodity trading, agricultural processing and services group. Additionally, he has held many director and managerial roles across a broad range of industries, including food, agriculture, services, transport and infrastructure. These roles have afforded the development of strong experiences and skills in, strategy formulation, the marketing of consumer and industrial products and services, R&D, manufacturing, human resources, corporate governance and risk management.

Deb Willcox

Deb commenced at the Chief Executive, Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) in November 2017. Deb’s career has included roles in both government and non-government organisations and her experience spans clinical, corporate services, government departments, the research environment and senior government advisor roles. Prior to Deb appointment as the Chief Executive, NSLHD, Deb held a number of senior executive and leadership positions within NSW Health including the Director of Operations Sydney Local Health District and General Manager, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, the Director, Customer Service and Corporate Governance HealthShare NSW, and Director Executive of and Ministerial Services, NSW Health. Deb has also held senior positions in government both as Chief of Staff in the portfolios of Planning, Housing and Aboriginal Affairs where she played a pivotal role in the development and implementation of the Government’s policy agenda in the portfolios of Planning, Housing and Aboriginal Affairs, and as an advisor to the Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, overseeing clinical areas including planned surgery, critical care, and emergency departments for these portfolios. Deb started her career in nursing at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and later studied law having been admitted as a Legal Practitioner in New South Wales.

Robyn Ward

Professor Robyn Ward AM FAHMS joined the University of Sydney in July 2018 as the inaugural Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health. She was the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Executive Dean (Acting) of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Queensland. Professor Ward is an academic leader, cancer researcher and medical oncologist. She chairs the Commonwealth Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC), and serves on the Council and Executive of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. In 2013 she was made Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to medical research and patient care in the field of oncology.

Mark Rees

Professor Rees completed his PhD at the University of Wales College of Medicine in 1994 and has had academic positions at Cardiff (1989-1999), Auckland (1999-2004) and Swansea (2004-2019) Universities. His academic interests lie in the genetic basis of medical disorders with a recent focus on neurology, mental health and cardio-respiratory disease. Professor Rees is former Founder/Director of the Wales Epilepsy Research Network and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and Fellow of the Learned Society for Wales. In April 2019, he joined the University of Sydney as Deputy-Executive Dean of Research Partnerships for the Faculty of Medicine and Health and is focusing on growing the research collaboration between the University and the USYD-affiliated MRI’s. Professor Rees is a member of the Kolling Institute Governing Council.

Chris Dennis

Associate Professor Christopher Dennis is the Executive Medical Director of Northern Sydney Local Health District, with responsibility for strategic oversight of research and medical governance across the District. Prior to this, Chris was Head of the Northern Clinical School in the Sydney Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney for over 7 years, and was the Stage 3 Coordinator of the Sydney Medical Program from 2007 – 2014. Associate Professor Dennis is also a Consultant Respiratory Physician at Royal North Shore Hospital. He was Head of Department from 1997 to 2007 and continues an active role as a clinician in the Department today. His clinical interests revolve around pulmonary thrombo-embolic disease and interstitial lung disease. He has extensive teaching experience at undergraduate and postgraduate levels going back to 1985. He was Honorary Secretary of the Committee for Examinations of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (2009 – 2014) and has been a member of the National                                                                          Examining Panel of RACP since 1998.

Helen Zorbas

Dr Helen Zorbas was Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Australia, the Australian government’s national agency in cancer control from 2010-2019, and previous to this was CEO of National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre for 7 years. Helen has been responsible for directing a number of national cancer control initiatives to improve evidence-based practice, policy and health service delivery, in both the clinical and psycho-social aspects of cancer care, and has been an author on over 66 peer reviewed publications. Her clinical experience spans almost 40 years as a GP and a specialist breast physician in both public and private healthcare settings. Helen has chaired and held positions on a number of key national government, cancer and health committees including Chair and Member of the Board, Cancer Institute NSW (2006-2009); Chair, BreastScreen Australia Evaluation Advisory Committee (2007-2009); and Member of the Health Care Committee, National Health and Medical Research Council (2009-2015). Helen is a member of the National Advisory Committee on Medicinal Use of Cannabis (since 2017), Chair of the National Breast Cancer Foundation and non- executive Director of The Hellenic Initiative Australia. In 2013 Helen was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in recognition of her distinguished service to public health through leadership in the delivery of improved information and services to cancer patients and their families and contributions to research and clinical trials.

Irina White

Irina commenced as Committee Secretary, Kolling Institute Governance Committee in October 2019. Before joining Kolling Institute Irina was employed in a number of the state’s largest industry sectors: electricity, rail and education. She has served as Company Secretary to the Boards of Endeavour Energy, Integral Energy, Rail Corp, Rail Infrastructure Corporation, State Rail Authority, and Rail Services Australia. Her past experience has also included membership of executive leadership teams and holding a variety of senior executive positions such as General Manager Corporate Services, Group Manager Corporate Governance, General Manager Human Resources and Director Communications and Marketing. She is a Fellow of Governance Institute of Australia, Fellow of Chartered Institute of Secretaries and Member, Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Researchers seeking closer ties with industry

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Remarkable service recognised in Queen’s birthday honours

Remarkable service recognised in Queen’s birthday honours

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