Senior Administrative Staff


Professor Geoffrey Donnan AO (Director)


Director of the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Professor Geoffrey Donnan was previously Director of the National Stroke Research Institute and Professor of Neurology, University of Melbourne, Austin Hospital campus. His research interest is clinical stroke management and he was co-founder of the Australian Stroke Trials Network. He is immediate Past-President of the World Stroke Organisation. He received the American Stroke Association William Feinberg Award for Excellence in Clinical Stroke Research in 2007 and the 2008 Bethlehem Griffiths Research Foundation Medal for outstanding contributions to research in stroke.

Dr Henry De Aizpurua (Deputy Director)

Henry graduated from Monash University, in 1984, before travelling to the USA where he worked at the Mayo Clinic and Foundation until 1989. Returning to Australia Henry began work at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne within the Burnet Clinical Research Unit focussing on juvenile onset diabetes. A growing interest in commercial aspects of medical research led to a move into the pharmaceutical/life science sector with the translational corporation Sigma Aldrich in 1997 and he began studies towards an MBA.

In 2000 Henry accepted a position at the Howard Florey Institute in commercial management. As Head of Business Development he has overall responsibility for all aspects of intellectual property management, contract negotiation, in and out licensing of Institute technologies as well as liaising with State and Federal government departments including the National Health and Medical Research Council. He is currently Deputy Director of the the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Professor Steve Petrou (Deputy Director)

BSci (Hons) PhD

Steve is an Associate Director and Head of the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health Division of Epilepsy, and heads the Laboratory of Ion Channels and Human Disease, a multidisciplinary team of researchers with a focus on revealing fundamental mechanisms of disease genesis in the central nervous system. Current major areas of investigation centre on the development and characterisation of genetically engineered mice models for the study of human familial epilepsy. He works closely with industry and has several patents for his discoveries. In addition to his many roles within the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and the University of Melbourne, he serves on the editorial board of the Journal Neurobiology of Disease, the Investigators Workshop Committee for the American Epilepsy Society and the Basic Science Committee of the International League Against Epilepsy.

Professor Graeme Jackson (Deputy Director)


Professor Graeme Jackson is the founding Director of the Brain Research Institute and a Neurologist at the Austin Hospital. He is internationally recognised for his work in new MR technologies, particularly in the field of epilepsy. He is a Professorial Fellow of the Department of Medicine and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Radiology, University of Melbourne; an Honorary Neurologist at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and a Board member of Neurosciences Victoria.  Professor Jackson recently won a highly prestigious 2008 NHMRC Excellence Award.

Mr Peter Plecher (Finance Director and Company Secretary)


Peter is the Finance Director and Company Secretary at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.  He holds a Bachelor of Business Degree (Accounting), is a Chartered Accountant and a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  Peter has a wide range of audit, accounting, financial management, project management, process re-engineering and systems implementation experience over a period of more than 20 years.  He joined international accounting firm KPMG in 1989 and over 18 years worked across a wide range of industries and clients, including 6 years in  senior financial management roles internally and a transfer to KPMG in the USA. 

Professor Alan Connelly (Associate Director)


Until August 2005, Alan Connelly was a Professor of Biophysics at University College London, with a particular interest in the development of magnetic resonance techniques and their application to significant clinical and neuroscientific problems. He then relocated with his research group to the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, where he has been instrumental in setting up new MR facilities at the Austin Campus. His work has covered a range of MR methods, with current focus primarily on diffusion and perfusion MRI and their application to the investigation of epilepsy, stroke, and cognitive function. Professor Connelly has published widely in magnetic resonance, general scientific, and neuroscientific journals.

Professor Andrew Lawrence (Associate Director)

BSc (Hons) PhD (Loughborough)

Professor Lawrence is a Professorial Research Fellow within the Behavioural Neuroscience division at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, and head of the Addiction Neuroscience laboratory. His primary research interest is in the development of robust animal models of drug-seeking, drug-taking and drug-induced neural adaptation. In addition, his group usees these models to define new potential therapeutic targets for drug and alcohol abuse disorders. He has published over 150 original articles and reviews. Andrew Lawrence is currently Senior Editor of The British Journal of Pharmacology and also sits on the editorial boards of Neurochemical Research & Addiction Biology. In 2009, Professor Lawrence was awarded the Australian Neuroscience Society medallion for services to the society. In his spare time, Andrew is a keen cyclist and a surf life guard.

Ms Jane Standish (Manager, Fundraising and Marketing)

Jane is the Manager Fundraising and Marketing at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health where she is responsible for marketing, brand management, income generation and management of communication channels. Prior to this position Jane worked with the Mental Health Research Institute managing donor communications and marketing activities.

Jane is a marketing and communications professional with over 20 years’ experience in developing and implementing strategic marketing and communications plans. She has a Bachelor of Business (Marketing and Management). In addition to her professional marketing career Jane has also provided pro bono marketing and fundraising advice for the not-for-profit sector for many years, as Board Director and as a Board Chair. She is a Certified Practising Marketer and member of the Fundraising Institute Australia.

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Ms Amanda Place (Manager, Corporate Communications and Media)

Amanda Place is the Manager of Corporate Communications and Media. She is involved in strategic planning and relationship-building with journalists, philanthropists, international collaborators as well as state and federal politicians. She is also responsible for publishing the Florey’s suite of publications.

Amanda was a prize-winning journalist with Fairfax and News Ltd for 21 years before moving into health politics and the not-for-profit sector. She worked as a press secretary for a state health minister and helped create a range of successful public health campaigns.

She is the author of A Life Well Lived: A Decade of Palliative Care, exploring the experiences and reflections of people in their last days of life.

More recently, Amanda provided strategic advice to major public and private hospitals and governments. She has also worked as a lobbyist to secure funding for several major projects.

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Mr Rodi Neri (Group Human Resources Manager)

Rodi is the Group Manager of Human Resources at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. He holds a Business Degree (Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations) and has significant generalist human resources and specialist recruitment experience over a period of more than 20 years.

Rodi has a wealth of knowledge of the health sector with positions as the Manager, Recruitment and Employment for the Royal Children’s Hospital, Human Resources Manager at the Peter McCallum Cancer Institute, which included working with scientific and research staff.

Having had direct experience working with a number of senior scientific research and medical staff Rodi understands the complexities of working in the sector.