Immunity, Inflammation and Infection

Infection Overview

The initial focus for the infection leadership team is on hospital acquired infection (HAI) which is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality and impact of the cost of care delivery in acute healthcare facilities. It is estimated that there are about 200,000 HAIs each year in Australia, thus the most common complication affecting patients in hospital. Whilst, rates of HA Staphylococcus aureus infections have fallen over the last decade in Australia, other HAIs have increased. This requires focused and novel approaches to strategies in hospitals to mitigate the risks of HAI, including study of risk factors for person-to-person spread of pathogens, ways to decrease bloodstream infections and other HAIs and understanding the processes and drivers of antibiotic prescribing and oversight via antimicrobial stewardship programs.

As in other medical fields, the availability of next generation sequencing techniques is revolutionising diagnostics of infectious diseases. The diagnosis of microbial origin of diseases has been traditionally based on the demonstration of the presence of a given pathogen in a given clinical sample. There is an opportunity to collaboratively develop pathways and informatics platforms that will allow profound changes in routine laboratory practice for microbiological diagnosis.

Infection Aims

The aim is to reduce hospital acquired infections by:

  • Collaborating with clinicians, health policy makers, and biomedical scientists to enhance focus researching clinically important questions about HAI and infection outbreak, providing opportunities to translate learnings into the clinical care of our patients and immediately impact on educating clinical staff and future clinicians in training by:

  • Utilising novel diagnostic tools to positively impact on HAI rates in clinical partner organisations.

  • Testing and innovating our approaches to reducing risks factors for HAIs.

  • Assessing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of antimicrobial stewardship.

Immunity Overview

Working together, investigators in immunity will build on existing preclinical successes in antigen-specific immunotherapy for treatment of autoimmune disease and cancer.  The group have very strong Industrial partnerships, which have resulted in products now in clinical trials. They will leverage existing pre-clinical animal models, clinical cohorts, biobanks, immunomonitoring platforms, rapid genomic screening platforms for antigen identification, and nanoparticle technologies. Further preclinical research will enable innovative clinical trials of personalised antigen-specific immunotherapy in susceptible cancers and organ-specific autoimmune diseases. The group is closely aligned with consumers and will work with health economists and clinicians specialising in primary care, oncology, rheumatology and endocrinology to enhance implementation of personalised immunotherapeutics. They will leverage this highly translational theme to maximise opportunities for research training at the interface between basic and clinical science.

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