Bright Sparks Program

education - student 6

Our Bright Sparks

The purpose of Baker IDI’s Bright Sparks Program is to nurture early career scientists with post graduate scholarships through to Fellowship incentives.

The Bright Sparks Program is particularly relevant as we navigate our way through unparalleled global challenges. Never before has our need to encourage outstanding leadership been so great.

The cultivation of one generation of Bright Sparks frequently results in scientists who go on to train others. This is know as the ‘multiplier effect’ and can result in powerful changes and developments in scientific and medical fields.

Thanks to the Bright Sparks Program, scientists whose careers began at Baker IDI have become impassioned ambassadors of the Institute and are among the most significant voices in the global fight against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

From a spark of inspiration come great discoveries...

The Bright Sparks Program has been designed to strategically progress gifted young scientists through the various stages of their academic careers.

Through the Bright Sparks Program, Baker IDI invests in gifted scientific talent by providing the following types of support annually:

Recipients of the Bright Sparks Program awards are selected under the aegis of the Baker IDI Research & Training Executive Committee (RTEC).

In addition to investing in Australian talent, we also recruit the best and brightest young scientists internationally.

Levels of support range from $1,500 to $150,000 per annum. Pledges may span over two or three years and include a variety of recognition opportunities.

Contributions to this program are, of course, tax deductible.

For more information about the Bright Sparks Program contact:

Bobbie Renard
T (03) 8532 1141


Baker IDI acknowledges with gratitude the generous ongoing commitment of the sponsors who support the Bright Sparks Program


PhD students who have been awarded Baker IDI Top Up scholarships 

Dr William Chan 

I am currently in my last year of Advanced Cardiology Training, having graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine from the University of Melbourne in 2001. My clinical and postgraduate training has been based at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

On the path to becoming a cardiologist, I feel it is imperative to have a sound understanding of basic science and clinical research in cardiovascular medicine, particularly how basic science translates into clinical practice.

I have a keen interest in the atherosclerotic disease process, specifically how oxidative stress mediated by iron can influence the outcomes of some of the most common problems in cardiology, namely ischaemia-reperfusion injury, endothelial dysfunction and vulnerable plaque rupture.

I will investigate whether iron chelation in the setting of acute myocardial infarction can reduce oxidative stress, and thereby reduce infarct size. I will also explore whether a higher oxidative stress state (together with a number of other factors including iron status) can predict vulnerable plaque rupture in patients undergoing vascular surgery. Lastly, I will examine the effects of chronic iron chelation on endothelial function in patients with stable coronary artery disease.

Greg Kowalski 

I began my scientific career at Deakin University completing a Bachelor of Applied Science at the Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing and Behavioural Sciences. I spent my final semester in 2006 on exchange at Oregon State University (USA).

I returned to Melbourne in early 2007 to continue my studies at Deakin University, completing my Honours degree by investigating signalling pathways related to skeletal muscle anabolism and catabolism.

This year I was fortunate to get a scholarship from Monash University to undertake a PhD through the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science) at the Baker Heart Research Institute under the supervision of Professor Mark Febbraio and Dr Graeme Lancaster.

Dr David Barit

I graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Melbourne in 1998, and completed specialist medical training as a Nephrologist in 2006. During the latter three years, I spent time in renal units at St. Vincent’s Hospital (Melbourne), The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Perth Hospital which included outreach clinics in the Kimberly district.

A common and immensely concerning theme I observed at these renal units was the high prevalence of renal disease related to diabetes and the associated co-morbid conditions such as cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and peripheral vascular disease. Diabetes is now the leading cause of chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal failure, despite current therapies to slow and prevent the progression of disease.