Professor Cindy Shannon ... a leader in Indigenous health
Professor Cindy Shannon ... a leader in Indigenous health
7 June 2017

A health and nursing academic who has devoted her life to improving the health of Indigenous Australians and a neuroscience pioneer who was founding director of the Queensland Brain Institute – both University of Queensland professors – have received 2017 Queensland Greats Awards.

UQ Pro-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement) Professor Cindy Shannon and Queensland Brain Institute founding director Professor Perry Bartlett received their awards from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The Queensland Day awards celebrate the efforts and achievements of extraordinary Queenslanders who have contributed to the State’s history and development.

Professor Bartlett (pictured) said he was surprised and delighted to receive the award, and grateful for Queenslanders’ support of the QBI.

“I’m chuffed because it also recognises the Queensland Brain Institute, which has become one of the world’s great neuroscience institutes. Queensland should be proud of that,” he said.

Professor Bartlett  was recognised as a Queensland Great for his significant contribution to science and his leadership in establishing a world-class neuroscience research institute in Queensland.

He is currently leading a study into how exercise could slow or even reverse the effects of cognitive decline by stimulating the production of new neurons.

Professor Shannon has been Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement) at UQ since 2011.

She was previously the Director of UQ’s Centre for Indigenous Health and guided the development and implementation of Australia’s first degree-level program specifically targeted at Aboriginal health workers.

She has also been a key player in creating a focus on urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations and contributed to the establishment of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.

She currently serves on a number of advisory boards, including as Chair of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation, and the Chair of the Queensland Ministerial Advisory Committee on Sexual health. She has also played a key role nationally in Indigenous health policy, and chaired the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Advisory Committee from 2005-2012. Professor Shannon is a current Council Member of AIATSIS.

“It’s an honour to be named a Queensland Great, and I’m grateful for the recognition it gives to Australia’s pressing Indigenous health problems,” Professor Shannon said.

“UQ provides a wonderful research environment, where ideas and curiosity can flourish and where researchers are celebrated for making real improvements to society and human wellbeing.”

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj congratulated Professor Bartlett and Professor Shannon on their awards.

“Cindy and Perry are great Queenslanders who have worked tirelessly to create change and make the world a better place,” Professor Høj said.

“We at UQ are honoured to work with them and to witness their drive and passion in their respective fields.”

“Perry has been a true pioneer and an outstanding leader in his field,” Professor Høj said.

“His work in discovering stem cells in the adult brain, showing that the brain is capable of making neurons throughout life, transformed the field of neuroscience.”

“Improving the health of Indigenous Australians is an important challenge that Cindy has tackled with a real determination and resolve,” Professor Høj said.

“In a difficult area, she has won widespread respect from her peers and from members of the Indigenous community for her intelligent approach to policy development and to educating health workers.”

Since the inception of the Queensland Greats Awards in 2000, they have acknowledged 82 people and 11 institutions, including QBI Advisory board chair Dr Sallyanne Atkinson AO, the late Emeritus Professor and former University of Queensland Vice Chancellor John Hay AC, Professor Ian Frazer AC, and UQ itself.

Professor Bartlett said the UQ Queensland Brain Institute had received an “enormous” level of support from governments, philanthropists and the public.

“I’m also delighted with this award because it recognises that my contributions to science have been meaningful and have helped to highlight the outstanding nature of science in Queensland,” he said.

“Queensland is a great place. There’s a unique culture here, which supports the success of others and works for the betterment of Queensland and Australia.”

Media: UQ Communications,, +61 7 3346 7086.

The Premier's statement is here.