Professor Tom Kay, Director

Tom KayProfessor Tom Kay is Director of SVI and an Honorary Professorial Fellow at The University of Melbourne. He trained in endocrinology and clinical immunology.

His research is focused on the pathogenesis and immunotherapy of type 1 diabetes including clinical islet transplantation, and mechanism-based treatments early in the course of the disease.

He is the principal investigator of the BANDIT trial, a phase 2 clinical trial of baricitinib to preserve beta cell function in new onset type 1 diabetes, and Chair of the Australian Type 1 Diabetes Immunotherapy Collaborative.

Professor Natalie Sims, Deputy Director

Natalie SimsProfessor Natalie Sims is Deputy Director of SVI, Head of the Institute’s Bone Biology and Disease Unit, and Honorary Professorial Fellow at The University of Melbourne.

Since starting her PhD at The University of Adelaide in 1990, she has worked to discover new treatments for common skeletal conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis, as well as rarer disorders, like osteogenesis imperfecta, that affect the way the skeleton is formed.

After her PhD, she worked at The Garvan Institute, and then trained at Yale University’s School of Medicine, USA before returning to Australia in 2001.

She is internationally recognised as a leader of bone research. Her team currently investigates the way that cells within the skeleton communicate with each other to produce bone of optimal shape and strength.

Professor Helen Thomas, Associate Director

Helen ThomasProfessor Helen Thomas is an Associate Director of SVI, Head of the Institute’s Immunology and Diabetes Unit, and Honorary Professorial Fellow at The University of Melbourne.

Helen’s research is focused on prevention of type 1 diabetes. She aims to protect insulin-producing cells in the pancreas from being destroyed by the immune system. Her research is being applied to humans through the transplantation of human islets from organ donors to reverse difficult-to-treat type 1 diabetes and in a clinical trial of the JAK inhibitor baricitinib in participants with the disease.

She collaborates with industry to test immune modulatory drugs in pre-clinical models for potential use in future clinical trials for type 1 diabetes.

Associate Professor Andrew Deans, Associate Director

Andrew DeansAndrew is an Associate Director of SVI and Head of the Institute’s Genome Stability Unit. His research is focused on gene editing, and the cellular process of DNA repair.

Andrew completed his PhD at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, where he developed expertise relating to role of the cell cycle and DNA repair development and treatment of breast cancer. He did postdoctoral research (2006-2011) with Professor Steve West at the London Research Institute. During this time, he published several papers on the role of DNA repair proteins in familial cancer syndromes such as Fanconi Anaemia and Bloom Syndrome.

In 2012, Andrew joined SVI. His current research is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision, US Department of Defense, and industry partnerships. Andrew was recipient of the 2017 David Frohnmayer award, for his pioneering work on the biochemical reconstitution of the Fanconi Anaemia DNA repair process.

Associate Professor Ramin Shayan, Associate Director

Ramin ShayanAssociate Professor Ramin Shayan is Director of the Institute’s O’Brien Department and a reconstructive plastic surgeon. He undertook undergraduate studies at the University of Melbourne, then a PhD investigating the role of lymphatic vessels in cancer at the Ludwig Institute in Melbourne.

Ramin jointly runs groups studying adipose-derived stem cells for treatment of diseases afflicting cancer survivors, namely radiation-induced tissue injury, and lymphoedema. He has clinical and basic science interests in both these areas, having performed over 360 microsurgical procedures for lymphoedema, and established the St Vincent’s lymphoedema clinic.

Ramin has performed over 6000 operations for cancer, and over 1000 operations for diseases of cancer survivorship. He is passionate about enhancing health through building medical technology platforms, drug discovery and translating ideas into commercial products and outcomes for patients, in areas of unmet clinical need.

Dr Nathalie Braussaud, Chief Operating Officer

With more than twenty years of experience in the pharmaceutical and medical research industry, Nathalie is a results-driven leader who excels at driving operational excellence and influencing change across organisations. She has a strong track record of building and developing high-performing teams while delivering on organisational strategies.

Prior to her role at SVI she was the Head of Scientific Operations at the Florey and a Research Leader in the pharmaceutical industry where she has consistently delivered results and implemented strategic initiatives.

Nathalie is a Graduate of The Australian Institute of Management, holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Aachen (Germany) and a Master of Physical Chemistry from the University of Bordeaux (France).

Ms Nicky Harris, CFO & Company Secretary

As CFO and Company Secretary, Nicky leads the Institute’s financial strategy, performance and reporting, oversees governance, risk management, investment management, banking, procurement and payroll with the aim of ensuring the ongoing sustainability and growth of both individual labs and the overall organisation. Nicky has a keen focus on transformational process and system improvements.

Prior to joining the Institute in 2019, Nicky worked in the Commercial sector in both large ASX listed and SME Private Equity owned organisations. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Otago NZ, is CA qualified and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Dr Philippa Hetzel, Director, NRL

A highly experienced senior executive leading and transforming health services (national and state) in a regulated health industry, Philippa is the Director of NRL.

Prior to her role at SVI, Philippa held senior executive roles at The Australian Red Cross Blood Services, National Blood Authority and Ernst & Young.

A graduate of Harvard Business School, Philippa also has a Masters in Health Administration from Flinders University and a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery from University of Adelaide.

Dr Anne Johnston, Head of Research Strategy

Anne is responsible for identification and execution of strategic opportunities for SVI with the aim of enhancing research impact and ensuring the Institute’s ongoing sustainability. She leads SVI’s Philanthropy, Communications, Business Development and Grants teams. She is passionate about delivering the Institute’s vision of medical discoveries that transform lives.

Anne holds a PhD in Medical Biology from the University of Melbourne and has worked in France and Italy as a scientist and a communications expert.