Memory lives on through support for young scientists

Memory lives on through support for young scientists

Illuminate newsletter header, Winter 2021
June 2021

Dr Alan Harris
Michael's interest in medical research was inspired by his father
Dr Alan Harris (pictured), a cell biologist.

As a child, Michael Harris loved going into WEHI to see his father, Dr Alan Harris, at work.

Michael was intrigued by the equipment in the labs and enjoyed meeting the other scientists who worked with his father. 

Dr Alan Harris, a cell biologist, died in 2006 and is remembered not only as a ground-breaking scientist but also as a respected and valued mentor to young scientists.

Family values

Michael still goes into WEHI, now as a donor. He and his wife Kelli Garrison are helping to support a new generation of students with the Alan W Harris Scholarship.

Their two sons also come into WEHI, meeting up with some of the same scientists Michael met as a child. 

The Alan W Harris Scholarship, which provides a $5000 allowance to Honours and Masters students, was initially established by WEHI in honour of Michael’s father. 

WEHI donor Michael Harris
Michael Harris (pictured) and his wife Kelli fund a student 
scholarship at WEHI.

Michael and Kelli, who decided independently to give to medical research, thought it made sense to join forces with WEHI to boost the scholarship.

“Kelli and I were both students in our respective fields and we understand the challenges and financial struggles of pursuing higher studies,” Michael said.

“Being able to support students to pursue their study goals is very gratifying,” he said.

Supporting medical research aligned with the couple’s values and the idea of helping people across the globe.

“The evidence-based approach is really important,” Michael said.

“Anyone who supports a cause wants to know the outcome is effective, real and has a lasting impact,” he said.

Student success

Alan W Harris scholarship recipient Kathleen Zeglinski said the scholarship helped take the financial pressure off so she could focus on her research.

Kathleen’s work, which uses sequencing techniques to improve the discovery of antibody-based drugs, including a potential COVID-19 treatment, won her the Colman-Speed Medal as WEHI’s top Honours student in 2020. 

“Honours is a really demanding year under normal circumstances and the pandemic made it even more difficult. There were so many challenges associated with working from home but the support from the scholarship really enabled me to do my best,” she said.

To donate to WEHI

visit or phone 03 9345 2403

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