The Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) welcomed Dr Irene Kourtis as its new chief executive officer last month. Based in their head office in Melbourne, Dr Kourtis visited Waite on Friday July 29 to meet with staff here at the AGRF Adelaide node.
AGRF is Australia’s leading and largest provider of genomic services and is supported under the Commonwealth NCRIS program. The Adelaide node provides a range of services including illumina and capillary sequencing, DNA extraction and plant growth facilities.
Dr Kourtis said her first priority is to meet and understand all the AGRF staff, partners and the diverse applications of genomics that AGRF can facilitate. “Making connections with people is important to me and it has been great to visit the different AGRF nodes in Brisbane and now Adelaide, with Perth and Sydney coming up.”
“The team here are lovely and open to the future. A culture of open communication is important, especially in an organisation like AGRF that has nodes across Australia,” Dr Kourtis said.
“I am looking forward to building on the foundations already established. AGRF is uniquely positioned to provide comprehensive genomic services that allow our clients to focus on their own activities.”
The Adelaide staff were all keen to meet and quiz their new CEO during her visit. “Irene’s background in Forensics is a great match with our recent joint Environmental Forensics LIEF grant, and the ARC Linkage work we are doing jointly with the University on Aboriginal Heritage, and ancient cereal and cattle genomics,” said Dr John Stephen, AGRF Adelaide Node Manager.
The co-location of multiple partner organisations here at the Waite campus was a feature Dr Kourtis identified as a valuable advantage. “The arrangement here at the Waite with many complementary organisations based at the one site is refreshing and progressive,” she said.
“All the sectors support each other and work together rather than competing with each other. It’s a one-stop-shop for ag, food and wine research which is very impressive from an external point of view.”
Dr Kourtis, was most recently chief executive officer of Children First Foundation: a Melbourne based charity providing life-saving and transformational surgery for children from developing countries. Previously, she was the head of enterprise and business development for the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and held various leadership, management, and business development roles prior to that.
Dr Kourtis holds a PhD from the MacFarlane Burnet Centre for Medical Research (Burnet Institute) and has over 15 years of experience in research and development in medical and animal health. She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a graduate diploma in intellectual property law.