Dr Mary-Claire Hanlon
(B.Sc, Honours (Psychology), PhD (Psychiatry), Research Co-ordinator, Radiation Oncology)

DepartmentRadiation Oncology / Physics
Research AreasDiagnostics / Screening, Therapy and Treatment, Population Health, Social Needs, Mental Health, Supportive Care
Research TopicsBreast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Melanoma / Skin Cancer, Head and Neck Cancer, Leukaemia/Lymphoma/Multiple Myeloma, Suicide and Self-Harm, Depression and Anxiety, Psycho- Oncology, Psychosis and other Mental Health
Research TypesClinical Trials, Survey / Observational Research, Dissemination / Implementation, Basic Science

Dr Mary-Claire Hanlon conducts mental health research for the Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health, and is Research Coordinator for the Department of Radiation Oncology. Previously, she was involved in socio-economic research for Hunter Valley Research Foundation (HVRF), Through providing education, development and flexible support, Mary-Claire fosters and facilitates multi-disciplinary collaborative research that is novel, contributes to the well-being of the community, and provides the opportunity for senior researchers to mentor the less experienced, and empower junior researchers to creatively find solutions to the health problems they encounter in clinical applications.

More information about Dr Hanlon's academic achievements may be found here:




For a list of Dr Hanlon's publications, click here.

Getting to know you:

When did you start doing research?

I started as a research assistant at the HVRF in 1997. I have led research teams since about 2006.

What research projects are you currently working on?

For Myself: I am working on publishing from my PhD and the Survey of High Impact Psychosis (SHIP; from which I have developed a post-doctoral fellowship with some fabulous colleagues and professors - we just need the funding now). I co-supervise at post-graduate level and am always looking for the next awesome Honours student!
For my Department: I provide education, development and support for staff to become researchers and to grow in their scientific abilities. I foster many varied research activities with my colleagues and encourage researchers from other disciplines to collaborate with our clinicians to efficiently answer the dilemmas faced by patients with cancer.

What research achievement are you most proud of?

While I am extremely proud to have achieved my PhD as a mature-age student, and I am honoured to have been a driving force in the recent Survey of High Impact Psychosis, I am also excited to be able to facilitate the clinical and community application of research recommendations.

What inspires you?

Personally, I have been inspired by my parents, who were advocates for social justice. Professionally, I have been inspired by peers, patients and professors with drive and integrity, who see things as they are and instead of saying "Too hard", say "Why not?"

What did you do before coming to work at Calvary Mater Newcastle?

I worked for Macquarie University and The University of Newcastle, conducting mental health research. Before that, I worked for the Hunter Valley Research Foundation. In terms of research, I grew from being a research assistant to project manager and site coordinator. I’ve also taught at undergraduate and post-graduate levels.

What has helped you the most in your research at Calvary Mater Newcastle?

Newcastle is unique in that researchers and clinicians here have great respect for the expertise of colleagues from different disciplines and a focus on the person needing our help, and these are what drive the translational success of our research.

Who are your main collaborators at Calvary Mater Newcastle?

I conduct my own mental health research with collaborators across the country, and I facilitate research between staff of the Department of Radiation Oncology, people from other disciplines (e.g., psycho-oncology) and other institutions (e.g., Universities of Newcastle and Sydney).

What did you do before you became a researcher?

Before I became a researcher, I ran my own business as a remedial massage therapist and worked in private enterprise for a multi-national real estate firm.

What made you decide to do research?

I discovered that I love to learn, and research provides me with the opportunity to learn for the rest of my life while contributing something wonderful (I hope) for the improved well-being of others.

What was your first / worst / best / strangest / memorable /etc job in research?

The Survey of High Impact Psychosis was probably the best (and worst) experience, because it was extremely high-pressured, time-wise. We had very little time to produce results. Yet, through teamwork and diligence, what we produced was extraordinary. I am still incredibly proud of all the people involved.

What do you do to relax?

It's important to me to maintain a connection with others, and with nature; and have a chance to pray or meditate. I love that my back deck faces north-east and gets loads of sunshine; that birds, butterflies and lizards feel at home near my door, and that I have walking trails which are close to bush and wetlands. I have so many blessings I lose count!

What is the craziest thing you have ever had to do "in the name of research"?

That would be the 3-minute thesis competition. I now know what it feels like to have my heart explode out of my chest in terror!

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