It is truly the people that define the work that we do.

Our team, our board and network of advisors relentlessly pursue excellence across research, clinical care, patient support, national and international projects. ADDRI may be one of the smallest medical research institutes in the country, however, the team’s tenacity and passion is boundless – while we may be small, we are certainly mighty.

Our executive team

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Kim Brislane

Chief Executive Officer

Growing the visibility of good causes is about identifying the story, the why, the point of impact. My desire to make a difference energises my work as CEO, motivates me through my board member roles, and pushes me to maintain an ethical and strategic focus.. There’s no challenge or complexity I won’t take on because I know the work I do uplifts and supports others.

I believe in giving back and serving communities, and the best way to do that is to uphold my values of honesty, transparency, and integrity. These are principles I take to heart, whether managing growth, ensuring change and transformation is realised, or writing and implementing policies that enhance operational and financial effectiveness or driving fundraising and communications.

Adept at brand positioning, I understand how to ensure an organisation appeals to the right people for the right reasons. That’s what I did as the former Deputy CEO/Communications and Events Director at The Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation and the CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Australia. I also bring this lens in my current role on the Executive of the World Health Organisation’s Australian Collaborating Centre Network.

If you are all things to all people, then you are nothing to anyone. I believe that sentiment, and that’s why I’m unapologetic about what ADDRI stands for and what we are fighting towards. I enjoy executing long-term visionary campaigns, driving strategic direction and nurturing partnerships with relevant bodies and agencies.

I thrive on high-impact projects, and have the resilience and courage to work on the ground and do the heavy lifting because, at the end of the day, it’s the difference we make that matters – “No one is bigger than the Game.”

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Dr Anthony Linton

Academic and Research Director

Dr Linton is a senior staff specialist in medical oncology at the Concord Cancer Centre in Concord Repatriation General Hospital, specialising in thoracic, genitourinary and brain malignancies. Dr Linton received his medical degree at the University of New South Wales before completing physician and oncology training at Concord Repatriation General Hospital.
He has been associated with the Asbestos and Dust Diseases Research Institute since 2011, when he joined as the first Biaggio Signorelli Fellow and completed his PhD at ADDRI investigating prognostic factors and new therapeutic targets in malignant pleural mesothelioma. He continued to collaborate with ADDRI researchers in translational research projects as an expert advisor and in 2024 was appointed the academic and research director of the institute.

He has published widely in international peer reviewed journals and he has presented on mesothelioma and other thoracic malignancies at national and international meetings. Dr Linton is a principal investigator on a number of clinical trials and is passionate regarding the translation of research from the laboratory to the clinic.

Dr Linton has a keen interest in education and training, previously serving as network director of physician training at the Concord Hospital Network, and is a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Sydney.

 

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Ross Flemons

Finance Manager

Ross Flemons is CPA qualified and has vast experience with all financial matters relating to independent medical research organisations. He works part-time and manages all aspects of ADDRI’s finances.

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Shane McArdle

Manager - International Projects

Shane McArdle joined the ADDRI team in April 2023 as the Manager – International Projects.

Prior to this, Shane worked for over 25 years at federal and local government levels in media, communications, events, stakeholder engagement, international collaboration and parliamentary/political administration.

His most recent employment was for 9 and a half years at the Australian Government Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA), overseeing awareness raising efforts to prevent exposure to asbestos to eliminate asbestos-related diseases and international collaboration and engagement to support national bans on asbestos production and use in other countries.

Shane is currently undertaking a Master of Public Health to apply the practical knowledge gained at ASEA to improve the diagnoses, surveillance and management of asbestos-related disease internationally and asbestos awareness messaging and management strategies.

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Vivienne Shahin

Manager - Communications

Vivienne Shahin joined ADDRI in July 2022. An experienced Marketing Consultant with a demonstrated history over several years working within the tourism, not-for-profit and corporate sectors offering an outsourced marketing department service. Viv works part-time and manages all ADDRI’s external communications and social media.

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Christine Lee

Manager - Office & Special Project

Christine joined the ADDRI in February 2021, bringing extensive experience from her previous roles at the CRC for Low Carbon Living and the University of Auckland. With many years of expertise in office management, IT management, and project management, she plays a crucial role in supporting the ADDRI executive team and research team. Christine’s skills and dedication ensure the smooth operation and successful execution of various projects, making her an invaluable member of the ADDRI team.

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Nina Locke

Assistant to CEO and Research Director

In March 2023, Nina joined the ADDRI team as Office Assistant to support the team with administrative and marketing tasks. Her background includes completing a course in Legal Services and Business Administration, and she is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business degree. Nina’s excellent organisational skills, enthusiasm and initiative supports the ADDRI team in its day-to-day operations, as well as events and projects.

Our doctors and researchers

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Dr Elham Hosseini Beheshti

Principal Scientist

Dr Elham Beheshti is a leading scientist at the forefront of her field, boasting a robust academic background and extensive expertise as an Extracellular Vesicles Scientist. During her pursuit of a PhD in Experimental Medicine, she uncovered the role of exosomes in cancer.

Joining ADDRI in May 2023, Elham brings a diverse skill set and a multidisciplinary background. She holds a Master of Science degree in health, nutrition, and food chemistry from the University of British Columbia, along with a Bachelor of Engineering from Iran. In 2023, Elham was awarded the prestigious REDI Fellowship and in this capacity serves as an Investment Analyst at IP Group Australia, where she gains valuable insights into the commercialisation of medical research. This unique perspective allows her to bridge the gap between scientific inquiry and real-world impact, facilitating the transition from laboratory bench to patient bedside.

In 2024, Elham assumes her role at ADDRI full time. As Principal Scientist, she will delve into the function of extracellular vesicles in relation to mesothelioma, harnessing her passion to accelerate the translation of scientific breakthroughs into tangible clinical applications. She is committed to making a positive and lasting impact on the lives of patients battling mesothelioma and dust-related diseases.

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Dr Ben Johnson

Post-Doc Fellow

Dr Ben Johnson joined ADDRI in June 2019. Ben attained his PhD in 2015 from the Western Sydney University. Prior to being employed at ADDRI, Dr Johnson was a Research Officer at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research where he gained sound experience in a range of molecular biology/biochemistry-based techniques, human cell culture and data analysis. Since completing his PhD, Dr Johnson has continued to further develop his medical research skills and has presented his findings at national conferences and published several research articles in peer-reviewed journals.

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Dr Peter (Huaikai) Shi

Post-Doc Fellow

Dr Shi joined ADDRI after being awarded a PhD in Jan 2021, where he can utilise his expertise in immunology and animal modelling in thoracic cancer research. Dr Shi established preclinical cell and animal models to develop a novel approach that combines beneficial immunotherapy with anti-cancer natural products to improve the treatment outcome of the current incurable cancer malignant mesothelioma. His work is now translated into a Phase 1 clinical trial to investigate Leptospermum extract (QV0) as a novel anti-drug for mesothelioma. If successful, this will provide a natural option for combinational treatment in pleural mesothelioma. In the meantime, Dr Shi discovered that tumour cells grown in a 3D dimension produced a hypoxic core that led to alterations in gene and microRNA expression. Dr. Shi has published in prestigious peer-reviewed papers that testify his contributions to the field of thoracic cancer research where he designed and carried out experiments, analysed the data and wrote manuscripts. His current research interests investigate the microbiome in mesothelioma and its links to the efficacy of immunotherapy.

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A/Professor Steven Kao

Medical Oncologist

Dr Steven Kao is a Medical Oncology Staff Specialist at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital since 2013, where he has overseen the thoracic oncology clinical service, particularly the programme of malignant mesothelioma.

Steven has a wide clinical, translational, and psycho-social research interest in thoracic cancers including malignant mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer.

Steven completed his PhD at ADDRI and Sydney University in 2013. His research was focused on predictive and prognostic factors in malignant mesothelioma. With his continuing affiliation at the ADDRI, he has continued his translational research in biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets in malignant mesothelioma. He has had several grants as a principal investigator in the field of mesothelioma. He was instrumental in completing the first-in-man phase I trial using a novel delivery system to replace miR15/16 in mesothelioma patients, sponsored by ADDRI.

Steven has received many awards in recognition of his research. These include: the Excellence in Translational Cancer Research in the 2014 Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research, Cancer Institute NSW; and, the Outstanding Cancer Research Scholar in the 2012 Premier’s Award for Outstanding Cancer Research, Cancer Institute NSW.

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Dr Vivek Dharwal

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr Vivek Dharwal is a respiratory researcher with over five years’ experience in chronic pulmonary inflammatory diseases. He joined ADDRI in October 2023, where his research will be focussed on trying to delineate the role of extracellular vesicles in dust diseases like silicosis and mesothelioma. Vivek’s previous research projects focused on understanding the role of mitochondrial dysfunctions and immunometabolism in COPD, utilising preclinical models and in vitro studies. He was awarded his PhD in June 2019 at Panjab University, Chandigarh, India, for his project that involved repurposing an FDA-approved drug, Olaparib (PAPR inhibitor), which alleviated the disease feature in the established COPD mouse model.

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Ling Zhuang

Technical Officer

Ling Zhuang has a bachelor’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Diploma in Laboratory Technology. She has gained further technical skills working at Douglass Hanly Moir the pathology company and at the ANZAC Research Institute.

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Richard Zelei

Research Assistant

Richard Zelei joined ADDRI in February 2023 as a Research Assistant after completing his Master of Biomedical Science (Infection and Immunity) at the University of Sydney in 2022. Where he investigated the binding affinity of patient-derived broad-spectrum neutralising antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
During his Honours project at the University of NSW, Richard gained experience operating in a Phase 2 clinical trial [NCT03113942] to explore the immunomodulatory effects of Pomalidomide to treat precancerous lesions caused by the Human papillomavirus.
Richard currently works with the research team at ADDRI on various projects that focus on pleural mesothelioma and silicosis. This includes biomarker discovery, pre-clinical therapeutics, extracellular vesicles, and 3D models.
Richard is passionate about incorporating recent advancements in technology and bioinformatics into his research and future Ph.D.
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Dr Sakthi Priya

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr Sakthi Priya graduated with a PhD from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, University of Sydney. During her PhD, Priya investigated the effect of hepatitis B and C viruses on mitochondrial function through different metabolic pathways. Previously, she worked to investigate the role of microRNA during viral infections at CCMB, India. Priya joined ADDRI in 2023 and has been working on therapeutic approaches and developing 3D models for drug screening in mesothelioma. She will be expanding her research work into silicosis. Priya has a strong interest in research and development where she can utilise and gain skills toward disease management/treatment.

Our Biobank team

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Dr Virginia James PhD

Biobank Officer

The ADDRI Biobank provides a unique collection and vital resource of ethically approved high-quality biospecimens and accurate, reliable and standardised clinical data to pave the way for dust-related diseases research. As Biobank officer, Dr Virginia James administers the collection, processing and storage of consented donated tissue, blood and fluids and associated clinical data, maintaining stringent laboratory quality control strategies to ensure sample integrity.

Virginia brings extensive experience to the team with over 30 years in diagnostic pathology departments and research laboratories, most recently at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR) as Biobank Officer and Advanced Histology Specialist.

With a particular interest in histopathology and cytopathology techniques and image analysis, this statement by David Hume resonates with her:

“No amount of observations of whites swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion.”

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Dr Lucy Wang PhD

Biobank collection officer

Dongwei (Lucy) Wang joined ADDRI in May 2023 and is responsible for the sample collection for the ADDRI Biobank, working closely with the Biobank Officer. Lucy brings extensive experience to the team, having previously worked at the Institute Of Clinical Pathology And Medical Research (ICPMR) and the Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR) as a Specialist in Transmission Electron Microscopy, Biobank and Histology. Lucy has over 20 years’ experience in Histology, Light microscopy, Electron microscopy, Molecular Biology and Biobanking. She holds a PhD from the Department of Biochemistry at La Trobe University, Victoria.

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David Baker

Biobank Inventory Officer and Research Assistant

David has recently completed a Master’s degree at the Western Sydney University and is eager to pursue a PhD. His current research focuses on microRNAs as potential early diagnostic markers for mesothelioma. With a keen interest in molecular biology and a drive to make meaningful contributions to medical science, he brings academic excellence and hands -on laboratory experience to his work. David’s meticulous approach and unwavering pursuit of scientific understanding position him as a promising young researcher poised to shape the future of cancer diagnostics and treatment.

Our specialist support team

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Pam Logan

Mesothelioma Support Coordinator

Pam Logan is a registered nurse who has additional qualifications in Community Nursing and Health Sciences. She has worked in the UK, NZ, and Australia with many years’ experience in acute surgery, community nursing, child and family health, young disabled and palliative care. She has worked as a researcher and coauthored work published in the area of clinical communication and medical errors. Most recently she has been working the area of chronic disease management in the over 75’s and as a medical chronologist (Asbestos Related Pleural Disease)

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Carmel Oostveen

Mesothelioma Support Coordinator

Carmel Oostveen joined ADDRI in May 2023, bringing extensive experience in Cardiothoracic Intensive Care. She has provided dedicated care to mesothelioma patients undergoing the intensive Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) surgery, as part of the trimodal care pathway. In this capacity, she also provided support to their families. Previously, Carmel spent three years as Case Manager for a team of Cardiothoracic surgeons in Sydney. In this capacity, she played a pivotal role in educating and assisting patients preparing for heart or lung surgery. She served as the liaison between patients, surgeons and hospital teams, ensuring seamless communication and patient-focused care. Carmel has also worked as Research Coordinator in the Cardiovascular department of the Royal Prince Alfred hospital.

Carmel’s experience adds enormous value to her role as Mesothelioma Support Coordinator. She works closely with diagnosed patients, offering vital support and guidance to both them and their families.

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Jennifer Coles

Silicosis Support Coordinator

Jenny leads our Silicosis Support Service, providing the highest standard of care for our patients through her holistic approach. She has years of significant expertise in respiratory care during her tenure in the intensive care environment. With hands-on experience in caring for silicosis patients undergoing lung transplantation, she possesses a comprehensive understanding of treatments including oxygen therapy and current medications. She is a passionate advocate for her Silicosis patients as she supports and guides them and their carers to navigate the complex healthcare system.

Our volunteers

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Jenny Weismantel

Volunteer

Jenny Weismantel has been working at ADDRI since 2011 through the Concord Hospital Volunteers. She has an accounting degree and her administrative skills have made her a valued member of our team. Jenny maintains ADDRI’s Endnote databases and supports various admin functions for the research team.

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Jo Mezzapica

Volunteer

Jo Mezzapica joined the ADDRI team to assist the Research Director with maintaining the data registry, and to provide administration support. Prior to ADDRI, she worked as a legal secretary for many years with a number of large law firms in Sydney. Her range of experience includes litigation, mergers and acquisitions, employment and commercial law. In her spare time, Jo enjoys the theatre, long walks and keeping fit to look after her grandchildren.

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