Matter of the heart: Spotlight on Dr Janine Kirk
We sat down with Dr Janine Kirk, Chair of ARMILAB, to discuss her reasons for taking an active leadership role with the Institute and her hopes for ARMI.
Dr Janine Kirk is chair of The Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute Leadership Advisory Board (ARMILAB), which works with senior management and liaises with key stakeholders.
She brings over four decades of leadership experience to the role, which she performs in addition to being the Chief Executive at The Princes’ Charity Australia. Dr Kirk was approached for the position when ARMI was in its infancy and decided to come on board, despite being incredibly busy, prominently due to a personal reason – her late father.
“My father had a heart attack at 47 when he was playing squash. It damaged his heart muscle, which, as we know, cannot regenerate. He died in his early 60s. If treatment to regenerate the heart muscle was available, it could help people like my father, whose quality of life declined significantly after his heart attack,” Dr Kirk said.
Janine was fated to yet again watch a parent suffer and ultimately succumb to a debilitating disease – her mother died of lung disease and, during her decline, had to use an oxygen machine for part of the day.
“I was attracted to the Leadership Advisory Board because I believe that regenerative medicine is the new frontier. ARMI has the potential of addressing the medical issues faced by my parents. The Institute is doing extraordinary work, and it covers such a broad area of diseases.”
Dr Janine Kirk’s vision for the future
Dr Kirk says ARMI has done remarkably well since its establishment seven years ago, especially when, as she notes “you consider the size of the Institute and the quality of research emerging from it.” She credits the institute’s performance to the early support of the ARMI team, Monash University and State and Federal Governments.
However, Dr Kirk is not one to rest on the laurels of past achievements. She believes ARMI can still do better – hoping ARMI can double its size within the next decade and to help further realise the vision of stakeholders.
“We have a great potential to maintain the growth progression of ARMI, but to do that, we need more resources to support our amazing team of scientists. ARMI is the youngest institute of its kind in Australia and Melbourne, which makes us young and ambitious and gives us the opportunity to have a significant impact on different areas of regenerative medicine. But that also limits us to some degree, because we are not as well known in the marketplace,” Dr Kirk said.
ARMI has the potential of unlocking many secrets of regenerative medicine, which could revolutionise healthcare for people like Dr Kirk’s father. For this to occur, continual support of its amazing scientists is required.