Health Translation SA is an unincorporated Joint Venture with a governance structure that includes; a Board of Partners that meets four times a year; Board nominated Working Groups to address specific issues and projects; and a Stakeholder Forum which meets twice a year.
All partners of Health Translation SA, the South Australian research community and the general public have the opportunity to identify health service and system issues, health priorities areas and other translation and impact outcomes that they would like to work with Health Translation SA to improve or achieve.
Our unique partnership unites eleven academic, research and health care agencies within South Australia, and encompasses the full breadth of health service delivery across the state. They represent organisations who can contribute to, and directly influence, the activities of the Health Translation SA across each of the three health research translation elements; research, action and impact.
By combining the expertise and strengths of its partners, Health Translation SA is effectively placed to tackle the challenges in health to achieve a high-quality sustainable health system and deliver solutions to address the most pressing healthcare priorities for our community.
Our partner agencies are:
- SA Health and its ten Local Health Networks;
- the State’s two Primary Health Networks – Adelaide PHN and Country SA PHN;
- the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute;
- the three South Australian universities – Flinders University, The University of Adelaide and University of South Australia;
- Torrens University Australia;
- the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health;
- the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation; and
- the peak body representing the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector in SA – Aboriginal Health Council of SA.
- South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI)
- The University of Adelaide
- Flinders University
- University of South Australia
- Torrens University Australia
- Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health
- Adelaide PHN
- Country SA PHN
- SA Health
- Aboriginal Health Council of SA
Board of Partners
We are led by a representative Board of Partners consisting of one member from each partner organisation.
Chair of the Board
Dr Leanna Read has broad-ranging executive, board and investment experience in health translation and in a range of technology-based enterprises, particularly biotechnology. As CEO and Chair of the CRC for Cell Therapy Manufacturing (CTM CRC) until October 2019, she had oversight of research translation programs focused on cancer immunology as well as smart surfaces for implanted medical devices. She has an ongoing role as chair of CTM CRC’s spin-out companies, Carina Biotech Pty Ltd and TekCyte Pty Ltd, which are commercialising the technology in these fields.
Leanna has recently completed a four-year term as Chief Scientist for South Australia and brings extensive experience on boards that address innovation across government, industry and academic sectors. She is a current member of several private and public sector boards including Uniseed venture capital investment company, Biosensis Pty Ltd, RSPCA SA and the Federal Government Biomedical Translation Fund Committee. She also chairs the recently established Agtech Advisory Group for the SA Government.
Professor Susan Hillier is an academic and clinician with teaching and research interests in the broad field of neuroscience and rehabilitation. One of her main research areas is on the effectiveness of rehabilitation approaches after stroke. The influence of rehabilitation on neuroplasticity is also a focus.
Susan also has an interest in movement education and intervention approaches for other populations such as children with developmental coordination disorder or people who are ageing. As well as conducting clinical trials to produce primary evidence, Susan also is an experienced Cochrane reviewer (vestibular rehabilitation, HIV, self-management after stroke, task-specific training).
Susan’s current role at the University of South Australia is Dean: Research (and Research Education) for the Division of Health Sciences.
Professor Alison Kitson is Vice-President & Executive Dean College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University. She was the former Dean of Nursing and Head of School at the University of Adelaide and is now a University Titleholder. She is an Associate Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford in the UK. Alison is internationally recognised for her work in Knowledge Translation (KT) and as the originator of one of the most widely cited and used KT frameworks, the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) Framework.
Professor Jonathan Craig is an internationally recognised clinician and scientist and holds the position of Vice President and Executive Dean of the College of Medicine & Public Health at Flinders University.
Professor Craig holds many board and advisory panel positions, including as a member of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Advisory Group on the Synthesis and Translation of Research Evidence, a member of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, a member of the Medicare Services Advisory Committee, a member of the International Advisory Panel for Singapore’s Agency for Care Effectiveness, and President of the Australia-NZ Society of Nephrology.
Mark Hartigan is currently Chief Executive Officer of the Country SA PHN, and was previously Deputy CEO of Country SA PHN and Country North SA Medicare Local for 8 years. He is the current South Australian representative on the PHN CEO Cooperative Management Committee and Joint Venture Committee. Mark has been a Justice of the Peace since 1998, and is also a member of Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD), holding accounting and business qualifications.
Mark has strong background and experience in commercial/rural banking, Local Government, and as a CEO in private business throughout regional South Australia. He currently lives in the beautiful Barossa Valley and enjoys following sports and a glass of the Barossa’s reds!
Shane Mohor is currently Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Health Council of SA Ltd (AHCSA). He has worked in Aboriginal health as a Registered Nurse (including remote Kimberly work, hospital and forensic health), Senior Executive in Government, University and Non-Government Organization’s for over 25 years in South Australia including interstate.
Professor Steve Wesselingh is the Executive Director of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).
Professor Wesselingh is an Infectious Diseases Physician and researcher in Neurovirology, HIV and vaccine development. He has consistently worked towards the integration of high quality medical research with health-care delivery, leading to improved health outcomes for Australia and the poorly resourced countries of the region.
Tracy Merlin is the first Professor of Health Technology Assessment in Australia, having worked in HTA for over 25 years.
As the Director of Adelaide Health Technology Assessment, Tracy leads a large, experienced and multi-disciplinary team of researchers undertaking nationally significant applied research and evaluation activities.
Tracy is a methodologist and clinical epidemiologist. In addition to publishing methodological work, she has written systematic literature reviews, clinical practice guidelines and health technology assessment reports. She has been an active contributor to HTAi and INAHTA. She Chaired INAHTA from 2020-2023 and was on the Board for 8 years. She Chaired the HTA Glossary English Editorial Board for 10 years, on behalf of HTAi and INAHTA.
Professor Merlin is also Head of School, School of Public Health at The University of Adelaide.
Dr Michael Cusack
Dr Michael Cusack is from the United Kingdom and joined the Department for Health and Wellbeing in February 2020 as the Chief Medical Officer. Prior to his current role, he was the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network Executive Director for Medical Services.
He qualified as a doctor in 1992 and subsequently trained as a Cardiologist at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. On completing his training, he took up his consultant post at a newly commissioned regional cardiothoracic centre in Wolverhampton and subsequently became the Clinical Director for Cardiothoracic Services. This unit went on to become the largest centre in the West Midlands region with nationally recognised outcomes and an active clinical research programme.
Michael has additionally held a number of leadership role in the National Health Service (NHS) including Cardiovascular Network Clinical Director, surgical Divisional Director and Medical Director for a large acute NHS Hospital Trust.
Michael is currently acting as the Interim Commissioner for the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health.
Dr Nadia Corsini is a behavioural scientist with expertise in health research and evaluation, having worked with industry, government, and consumer partners to inform the development of resources, services, and policy to improve health outcomes. Her priority research areas include consumer-centred care, psycho-oncology, and health workforce wellbeing. She leads a research program on the use of patient-reported outcome measures in cancer policy. Nadia has worked innovatively with consumers by co-supervising students, co-developing funding proposals, and building authentic relationships through regular communication and engagement activities.
Nadia is currently Senior Research Fellow at the Rosemary Bryant AO Research Centre. She is a member of the SA Cancer Clinical Network Steering Committee, chair-elect of the International Society for Quality of Life Research – Australian and New Zealand Special Interest Group, and chair of Consumer and Community Engagement Action Group at Health Translation SA.
Paul Ward is Professor of Public Health at Torrens University Australia. Paul graduated with a PhD in Medical Sociology from the University of Manchester over 20 years ago and has been undertaking sociological research in public health ever since. He leads numerous large studies funded by the ARC, NHMRC and Cancer Australia and ultimately wants his research to lead to a more equitable and inclusive society for disadvantaged and marginalised population groups globally. He also supervises numerous PhD students who, like him, are undertaking research focussed on improving both social justice and human flourishing. Paul’s main research interests are around socio-spatial inequalities and inequities in health, medicine usage and the provision of health and social care. Paul also has a particular interest in research around lay and professional perceptions, knowledge and understandings of health, healthcare, medicines, risk and trust.
Michelle was appointed Adelaide PHN CEO in August 2021. With a clinical background in emergency nursing for over 20 years, Michelle has held a range of executive roles in the health sector across Queensland (QLD), South Australia (SA) and the Northern Territory (NT), in both public and not-for-profit sectors and in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Prior to joining Adelaide PHN, Michelle was Chief Operating Officer of the Top End Health Service within NT Health.
Her previous executive roles included Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in the UK, Uniting Care QLD and Executive Director of Planning and Performance at SA Health, in addition to roles at QLD Health.
A/Professor Bev Muhlhausler is Acting Research Director of the newly formed Human Health Program in the Health and Biosecurity Unit at CSIRO. The Human Health Program brings together capabilities across pandemic preparedness, diagnostics and nutrition and behavioural sciences to develop strategies to build a healthy and resilient Australian population.
Bev joined CSIRO after 14 years as an NHMRC Early Career Fellow, and then Career Development Award Fellow, at the University of South Australia and University of Adelaide. Over this time, her research has had a strong focus on the role of maternal and infant nutrition in the early life programming of obesity and metabolic health. She has published 180 peer-reviewed papers which have been cited over 4,400 times, written 12 invited book chapters and 7 invited editorial and commentaries and presented 30 invited talks at national/international scientific conferences.
Our Staff Team
Our projects and activities are supported by a dedicated team based at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.
Wendy Keech has led Health Translation SA since 2018, and currently serves as the company’s Executive Director. In this role, Wendy advocates to bring together the expertise and strengths of partner organisations to accelerate the rate of translation of evidence into healthcare to improve the health system and positively impact patient outcomes. Under Wendy’s leadership, HTSA has grown to incorporate 11 partner agencies, and continues to create and accelerate impact for the health system and its consumer base.
Prior to her role at Health Translation SA, Wendy amassed a wealth of experience in the health and medical sector. During her 11-year tenure at The National Heart Foundation, she directed and led state heart health programs while spearheading the national Warning Signs of Heart Attacks strategy. In her subsequent roles, Wendy played a key role in driving impactful research projects at the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit within the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).
Throughout her career, Wendy has demonstrated a strong aptitude for developing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based programs. Her broad range of expertise includes strategic planning, prevention, public health, heart disease, physical activity, tobacco control, and nutrition.
Business Operations Manager
Nicole is the Business Operations Manager for Health Translation SA and is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of our centre. She has over 14 years’ experience in a variety of roles across health, research and not for profit sectors.
Nicole has previously worked at SAHMRI, the University of South Australia and Cancer Council SA.
Dr Rebecca Perry
Lead: Priority Driven Research Development
Rebecca brings a wide range of experience to the team as a result of working as a clinician, researcher and more recently as a project/community engagement manager. She has practiced as a dietitian in metropolitan and regional clinical settings as well as in private practice. Her early research interests focussed on supporting primary carers to foster healthy lifestyle choices and behaviours in their children. This work informed a state-wide child weight management initiative which provided Rebecca with a deep appreciation of the importance of health research translation and intricacies of implementation science.
Over the past 20 years, Rebecca has developed strong networks in government, academia and industry across a variety of fields. A passionate collaborator, she enjoys working in diverse teams to generate creative solutions to priority-driven health challenges.
Dr Ecushla Linedale
Program Manager / Deputy Executive Director
Ecushla is the Program Manager and Deputy Executive Director for Health Translation SA, responsible for operationalising the HTSA strategy and supporting the team to deliver on our strategic objectives. Ecushla also is also the lead for HTSAs Digital Health Program which aims to support the development of a digitally-enabled learning health system across South Australia.
Ecushla has a PhD in Medicine around Health Care Service Design and Delivery, and a breadth of experience in basic and clinical research and research translation, project management, strategic development, financial management. She has undertaken further studies in psychology, science communication, entrepreneurship, and knowledge translation, and is a titleholder at the University of Adelaide and member of the Australasian Institute of Digital Health – SA Branch Committee.
Her interest lies in engaging with and connecting clinicians, researchers, consumers and industry to pragmatically use evidence to inform, develop and implement solutions to real world problems.
Strategic Communications Manager
Alex is the Strategic Communications Manager within Health Translation SA and works closely with the team to develop and implement their marketing and communication plan.
Alex has a degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of South Australia and has undertaken further tertiary level studies in the areas of project and business management. She enjoys working collaboratively with consumers, health professionals and other stakeholders to improve health service delivery and clinical outcomes for individuals, and the broader community.
Most recently Alex has worked for SA Health in a variety of project management roles across end of life care, elective and emergency surgery and safety and quality.
Dr Agustina Gancia
Lead: Capacity Building
Agustina leads HTSA’s Capacity Building portfolio and is responsible for the implementation of consumer engagement and research capacity building programs.
Agustina has a PhD in Population Health from the University of South Australia. Her research interests centred on the evaluation of partnerships created in the context of a community-based health promotion program. She has experience in project management, capacity building, evaluation and research, and has worked in the fields of clinical epidemiology, health promotion and community engagement. She was previously a senior project officer at the Centre of Excellence on Partnerships with Patients and the Public, in Montreal, Canada.
Agustina is passionate about engaging a wide range of stakeholders including researchers, health professionals, community members and public servants to accelerate the translation of research findings and improve healthcare challenges.
Agustina is currently on parental leave until 2024.
Tamara Hooper is a Project Manager with both Health Translation SA and the Australian Research Data Commons, coordinating the HeSANDA project both nationally and within SA.
Tamara was recently employed as a Project Manager of the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation Registry (supported by the Australasian Cardiac Outcomes Registry).
Tamara’s initial healthcare experience includes Intensive Care (ICU) Nursing, ICU Clinical Trials, Clinical Practice Improvement, Safety and Quality. From there, she moved into the commercial medical device industry working for two different companies and was appointed national roles within education, marketing and sales.
Tamara continues to be passionate about facilitating healthcare improvements at individual, group and system levels.
Kahlia completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences with The University in Adelaide in 2016 with majors in Genetics and Neuroscience. She subsequently completed a Graduate Certificate in Communications with Deakin University, and in January 2022, she was awarded a Master of Business Administration (MBA) (Emerging Leaders) from the University of Adelaide.
Before joining HTSA, Kahlia spent 9 years at The University of Adelaide working in Domestic Student Recruitment. Most recently, she led the Domestic Undergraduate Recruitment team and was instrumental in developing and administering their flagship STEM recruitment program as well as new entry pathways to drive domestic student applications in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior Project Officer: Capacity Building
Sarah has 13+ years experience in communications, engagement and marketing in the areas of research and higher education. She joins HTSA from The University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute.
Sarah currently leads HTSA’s capacity building portfolio, including the Implementation Science Network, and our Consumer Engagement Toolkit.
Dr Mehrsa Zakershahrak
Research Translation Fellow
Mehrsa has joined HTSA as the Research Translation Fellow in a research development and capacity-building initiatives role. She is responsible for Women’s Health Research, Translation, and Impact Network (WHRTN) and Data and Consumers portfolios.
Mehrsa is a dentist (DDS) with a PhD in dentistry from the University of Adelaide, Adelaide Dental School, Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH). Her research focused on patient-reported outcome measures and socioeconomic determinants of health, exploring health and well-being outcomes of vulnerable populations, particularly low-income groups and the effects of protective psychosocial factors on health and quality of life. She conducted large population-based and state-representative studies using complex big health data.
Mehrsa has also gained valuable experience in fast-paced research settings within the primary health network of Australia by working on high-funded state programs, models of care, healthcare delivery in rural and remote areas, capacity building, research translation, implementation, and evaluation. Her efforts have contributed to shaping outcome thinking frameworks and informed decision-making in healthcare delivery models, policies, and practices.