Professor Alison Ritter has been an exemplary mentor in the AOD sector for over twenty years, from her years as Head of Research at Turning Point (1994 – 2006) through to her past decade as the Director of the Drug Policy Modelling Program (2006 – present). Alison has worked tirelessly to provide support and career advice to her mentees, and does so generously and in accordance with the individual’s own goals, interests and aspirations. Through her leadership of DPMP, Alison has fostered a vibrant and active multi-disciplinary research team, with an international reputation for excellence in drug policy research and demonstrable policy impact.
Alison’s commitment to mentoring extends beyond DPMP. Alison is a thoughtful and generous mentor to early – and mid-career researchers from a range of other institutions and acts as a formal mentor to junior academics in other disciplines at UNSW through ECR mentoring scheme (2010 to present) and in the UNSW Academic Women in Leadership scheme (2010 to present).
The Mentor Award recognises an individual who has made an important contribution to mentoring and supporting the career development of clinicians, researchers or students.
Louisa is an extremely talented and productive researcher and is a global leader in the addiction research field. She has dedicated her career to exploring the complexities of drug-related harm and ensuring policy makers, clinicians and the community have current and comprehensive information to make sound, informed decisions, which of course is crucial in the drug and alcohol field.
Her research has already gone a long way to establishing a comprehensive evidence base for drug policy and clinical practice, both in Australia and internationally. Louisa’s work documenting what is and is not known regarding the epidemiology and health effects of illicit drugs has shaped discourse at a local and global level. She is regularly sought by researchers, government, NGOs, and UN agencies to collaborate and provide advice.
Louisa is internationally acknowledged for her expertise in illicit drug use and harms including infectious disease, particularly among vulnerable and marginalised groups. She is a lead contributor to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study which measures years of life lost due to premature mortality or illness. She is currently on the GBD Core Analytic team overseeing modelling of burden due to mental disorders and substance use, having co-chaired the Mental Disorders and Illicit Drug Use Expert Group for the 2010 study. She has worked with Prof Ron Kessler since 2006 on the WHO’s World Mental Health Surveys.