M de Leon-Santiago


Dr Maria de Leon-Santiago is the Manager of the SPHERE Centre of Research Excellence and is based at the Department of General Practice, Monash University. Her research background is in immunology, but she moved into primary health care where she has developed expertise in research development and management. In the last five years, Maria has been instrumental in facilitating the acquisition of more than $4 million in competitive and contract research funding for projects in women’s health, cancer, chronic disease, preventive care, and mental health.  She has also cultivated relationships with key stakeholders in primary care, women’s health and industry to develop research collaborations, identify funding opportunities, and support research planning and strategy at a university and policy level.



Nilab graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Masters of Public Health in 2019, specialising in gender and women’s health. For her Masters thesis, she designed and collected qualitative data on Afghan women and their perceptions of gender roles, norms and identities. Nilab previously worked as an ethics assistant at Monash University’s Bariatric Surgery Registry, and joined SPHERE in 2021. Nilab has a special interest in qualitative research with asylum seeker, refugee and culturally and linguistically diverse women.