Advancing medicine and health

Mayne Medical School

Marla Edwards always arrives before she enters a room. Her joyfulness, melodic voice and penchant for fun are so infectious as she walks the grand hallways of the Mayne Medical Building.

“My house was always filled with music and science books,” she says.

It’s clear performance was anything but staged in the Edwards household, rather, it came naturally to all – including Ms Edwards.

“I remember receiving the Year 12 prize for School Spirit at Brisbane Girls Grammar School (BGGS), where I attended,” Ms Edwards recalls.

“I also ran the school radio, studied piano, was a young mezzo-soprano studying under the late Margaretta Elkins AM and Lauris Elms AM OBE, and sang at school building openings including the Gehrmann Theatre.

“Time may have passed, but I haven’t changed a bit,” Ms Edwards says.

Ms Edwards is still as vivacious as ever and keen to perform in her new role as Director of Advancement, Medicine and Health, with The University of Queensland.

“I lead a UQ strategy to support advancement collaboration across the Faculties of Medicine, Health and Behavioural Sciences, and the Queensland Brain Institute.

“It’s such a joy supporting those around me to achieve success. My colleagues are the most talented, brilliant, sincere and courageous people that I have met,” Ms Edwards says.

“I’m thrilled about what we are creating together, and the way in which we’re contributing to achieving tangible positives for our community, such as recognising diversity and supporting collective enrichment through shared activities and meaning.

“I’m excited to be working with our Indigenous leaders on UQ Indigenous Health strategies to create real impacts for local communities and promote shared knowledge through various pathways, including global Indigenous communities.

“And, it’s a privilege to work alongside world-leading experts in health and science. I’m very passionate about supporting our researchers to solve the world’s greatest health challenges,” Ms Edwards says.

“The cumulative impact of our collaborative work is what enables UQ to make a powerful contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of communities, so that we may all live longer and stronger together.”

Ms Edwards draws on past experiences and teachers to paint a picture of what the future could be.

“I’ve worked with so many wonderful people from diverse backgrounds during my international career. I want to share my learnings with other UQ staff and supporters in ways that achieve shared success.”

Other great learnings have come from Marla’s grandmother and mother who instilled strong values in her – her greatest gifts – and several executive women who mentored her very early in her career and still remain in contact with her today.

“Dr Judith Hancock AM and the teachers at BGGS supported my creative vocal aspirations, and my voice teachers taught me how to lead and live a disciplined life with grace, and how to communicate with an audience, and my gorgeous girlfriends showed me the power of intelligence and tenacity when juggling work and family around so many competing priorities.

“These foundations have set the standard for how I live, work and view the world today. Through unwavering discipline, focus, integrity, kindness, generosity and authenticity, I believe we all can create a world that inspires hope in others and leads to a better place for all.”

An example of this inspiring ethic is the work being done by UQ scientists to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I am so proud of our scientists and the work they are doing to keep us all healthy, protected and safe, and resume a more familiar way of life,” Ms Edwards explains.

“I am dedicating my efforts to searching for people who are interested in helping us achieve this ‘ultimate goal’, and to developing the next generation of world-class researchers and clinicians in our Centres of Excellence.

“I encourage anyone interested in helping to create a better world to connect with me now so that we may go on this journey together. What we can achieve together is far more than we can ever achieve alone.”

Contact Marla Edwards, Director of Advancement, Medicine and Health, (BASci (Hons), MBA(Exec), CFRE) at

Marla Edwards during her performing days.

Marla Edwards during her performing days.

Marla Edwards during her performing days.

Marla in her office

Marla in her office

Marla in her office

This story is featured in the Summer 2020 edition of UQmedicine Magazine. View the latest edition here. Or to listen, watch, or read more stories from UQ’s Faculty of Medicine, visit our blog, MayneStream.