Outstanding First Nations Researcher Medal

The Academy’s Outstanding First Nations Researcher Medal is awarded annually to an outstanding mid-career researcher of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent, who is an emerging research leader working and making an impactful contribution in the health and medical sciences in Australia.

The Medal recognises outstanding researchers and provides them with assistance to expand their research networks and to participate in international knowledge exchange by supporting travel nationally or internationally to visit relevant research centres.

Nominations are welcome from all fields associated with furthering biomedical and health research, whether clinical, public health, basic biomedical or social sciences research, and relevant areas of the humanities, such as bioethics. Candidates do not necessarily need to be working on research that has a First Nations focus.

The recipient will be a postdoctoral researcher within 12 years of achieving their PhD (or equivalent first research higher degree) inclusive, at the time of nomination.

Consideration will be given to individuals whose career has been interrupted, delayed or otherwise constrained through reasons including, but not limited to illness, child bearing, child caring or other caring responsibilities. Other disruptions resulting from professional development or training, such as clinical load, would not be considered under this definition.

We recognise that where individuals are working with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities, there is a time commitment involved in building and maintaining those relationships, accountabilities and other protocols that may be necessary. This may affect an individual’s research outputs, and candidates should note where this is the case to ensure that the selection committee are aware of this important consideration.

The Outstanding First Nations Researcher Medal is the Academy’s third honorific award, launched in 2023, to be awarded for the first time in 2024, and is awarded at AAHMS’s annual meeting each October.

“The use of the star design in my works references the ongoing existence of our people since time immemorial. It is like a time-traveller, a guide that sees the passage of time and the manifestation of life.”

Artist Teho Ropeyarn

Designer of the Outstanding First Nations Researcher Medal 

The Medal

The medal is currently being designed using the work of Teho Ropeyarn, an artist and curator from Injinoo, Cape York Peninsula. Teho Ropeyarn is descended from the Angkamuthi and Yadhaykana clans from Injinoo on the mainland, Badu, Moa and Murray Island in the Torres Strait; Woppaburra people (Great Keppel Island) and Batchulla people (Fraser Island). His practice is focused on his father’s people’s heritage.

The design element of the medal comes from the artist’s work, Unggoonggu (star).

In the Angkamuthi dialect of north-western Cape York, unggoonggu (oong-goon-goo) is the language name for stars.

Travel grant

Recipients will receive a Medal and a travel grant of $10,000, which can be used to pay for the direct costs of travel, such as conference registration fees, flights and ground transport, accommodation and subsistence. Funding cannot be used to cover salaries, lab-related costs such as bench fees, insurance or visa costs. Nominators/applicants should contact the AAHMS secretariat should they have any questions about eligible expenses ([email protected]).

Recipients may use the travel grant for any trip between two weeks and three months in duration that is relevant to their research. They may, if budget allows, use the grant to fund multiple trips (in which case, the total duration of all trips should add up to between two weeks and three months in duration).

Activities funded through the travel grant must have been undertaken within two years from the date on which the recipient receives the Medal (either in person or in absentia) – i.e. at the Academy’s annual meeting.

Further information on the travel grant is available in the award nomination guidelines below.

We are most grateful for the generous support of Bellberry Ltd for providing the travel grant component of the Award.

How to nominate

Expressions of interest for 2024 are now open.

There are two phases: an initial expression of interest, followed by a full nomination stage.

Expressions of interest open in October each year and all paperwork must be submitted by 1 March the following year.

Shortlisted candidates will be contacted in late March/early April to submit a full nomination – all paperwork must be submitted by 20 May.

To submit an expression of interest, please read the award nomination guidelines below and email the secretariat ([email protected]) with the name of the intended candidate, their current email address, position and institution to begin the process.

Individuals must be nominated: they cannot self-nominate. Nominators and nominees do not need to be AAHMS Fellows.


The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences Outstanding First Nations Researcher Medal has been made possible by a generous donation from The Gandevia Foundation, for which the Academy is most grateful. We are also grateful for the generous support of Bellberry Ltd, who are providing the travel grant component of the Award.

Belberry Limited logo

Keep up to date with the latest news

By providing your email address, you consent to it being added to our mailing list.