NATIONAL CENTRE FOR IMMUNISATION RESEARCH & SURVEILLANCE (NCIRS)

Robert Booy

Professor Robert Booy - Head of the Clinical Research team at NCIRS

NCIRS aims to inform policy and planning for immunisation services in Australia, provide reliable information on vaccine safety and efficacy, and to support national surveillance of vaccine preventable diseases, vaccine coverage and immunisation-related adverse events. It coordinates an extensive epidemiologic research program with a focus on vaccine preventable diseases, linking with partners in multiple countries. The Centre brings together experts in public health, epidemiology, paediatrics, internal medicine, infectious diseases and behavioural sciences. It is located within the Kids Research Institute (KRI) at the Children’s Hospital Westmead and forms part of the World Health Organization's Vaccine Safety Net.

CENTRE FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASES AND MICROBIOLOGY (CIDM-PH)

Vitali Sintchenko

Prof Sintchenko - Director, CIDM-PH

Building partnership between CIDM-PH and MBI to enhance public health laboratory capacity in NSW
CIDM-PH has a been the research and development arm of clinical and public health microbiology laboratory services at the Institute of Clinical Microbiology and Medical Research (ICPMR) since 2003. This growing research Centre has focused on (a) enhanced infectious disease case detection and management; (b) discovery of mechanisms of virulence and drug resistance and development of novel methods of their detection and monitoring; (c) advanced surveillance methods and bioinformatics data analysis, and (d) ethical implications of infectious disease control and barriers to implementation. These themes are closely aligned with Strategic Plans of the NSW Ministry of Health. CIDM-PH has developed, evaluated and implemented many innovative laboratory diagnostic approaches to detection and characterisation of pathogens with epidemic potential. CIDM-PH has been a leader in development and implementation of new microbial strain-typing methods, designed to facilitate interlaboratory harmonisation, to support multijurisdictional outbreak investigations and global surveillance of drug-resistant pathogens.

Our researchers are chief investigators in the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Tuberculosis (TB) Control and Prevention with major nodes at CIDM and the Centenary and Woolcock Institutes of the University of Sydney. This has particular importance because of rapid emergence of drug resistant tuberculosis in the Asia-Pacific region, which can only be contained by better understanding of factors that facilitate transmission. Integrating an active R&D program within a large service department provides opportunities for research training of laboratory staff via short-term secondments, part-time postgraduate studies or participation in evaluation and translation of new technology. CIDM-PH translational research have enabled the implementation of rapid typing of salmonella and cluster identification of food-borne diseases, which led to faster identification of outbreaks and their sources, reduce case numbers and prevents future outbreaks. Another example is the development of mosquito population management strategies, in collaboration with NSW and local governments, to limit pest and vector mosquito burdens.

CIDM-PH is a major participant in the University of Sydney’s Marie Bashir Institute for Emerging Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, which offers new collaborative research and funding opportunities by bringing together researchers in human and veterinary infectious diseases, epidemiology, public health law, ethics and social sciences.


WESTMEAD MILLENNIUM INSTITUTE (WMI)

WMI team

Dr Mark Douglas and his research team

WMI conducts research into a wide range of human disorders with a prominent focus on infectious diseases. Research extends from the laboratory to the patient, using the basic tools of molecular and cell biology, genetic epidemiology, imaging technology and clinical research. This "Bench to Bedside" philosophy aims to ensure that research outcomes are rapidly translated into better prevention strategies, treatments and healthcare for all. Infectious diseases research groups include:

1) Bacterial pathogenesis, antibiotic resistance and novel diagnostics

The group has characterised the genetic basis for major antibiotic resistance genes in Australia and are developing novel diagnostic assays in collaboration with industry partners. Assays have also been developed for rapid detection of viruses such as “swine flu” and “bird flu”.

2) Fungal pathogenesis

The group is spearheading a better understanding of virulence determinants in Cryptococcus neoformans, the cause of potentially fatal meningitis in immune compromised patients. This fundamental knowledge has already identified promising target molecules for the development of new drugs to treat fungal infections.

3) Centre for Virus Research (CVR)

CVR uses the latest technologies such as genomics, molecular and cell biology and protein chemistry to investigate HIV and herpes viruses. CVRs research has assisted in the development of the first partially successful vaccine for genital herpes and defined two new HIV receptors on epithelial dendritic cells that are potential drug targets. Research include retroviral genetics, HIV molecular pathogenesis, HIV biology, viral transport and assembly, neuro- and immunopathogenesis, cytomegalovirus, varicella zoster virus (the cause of chickenpox and shingles)

4) Hepatitis

Storr Liver Unit undertakes basic, translational and clinical research into viral hepatitis, liver cancer, fibrosis and NASH. The Viral Hepatitis Pathogenesis group studies hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus-host interactions to understand how these viruses cause liver fibrosis and liver cancer and identify novel drug targets. Next generation sequencing is also being used to understand the emergence of drug resistance to new antiviral agents.


CHARLES PERKINS CENTRE (CPC)

CPC aims to ease the burden of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease by generating collaborative interdisciplinary research. Apart from the complex underlying biology (at the levels of genes, cells and organs), it also promotes improved understanding of factors such as our psychological makeup, the cultural norms we grow up with, the economic pressures that shape our lives, our built environment, and the agricultural and food industries we depend on for food.

The new CPC building provides state-of-the art facilities to encourage collaboration between the best minds in basic and medical sciences together with experts from the arts and social sciences, architecture, business studies, education and social work, engineering and information technology, and the physical, life and environmental sciences

Areas of overlap with MBI include work on the bugs that colonize our gut (the human microbiome); how this is influenced by diet and environmental exposures and how it impacts on the basic disease processes underlying obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The new CPC building will house a number of MBI affiliated research groups, including professor Eddie Holmes, NHMRC Australia Fellow and previous Life Sciences chair at Pennsylvania State University, USA. His research focuses on the evolutionary genetics of RNA viruses, with special emphasis on the major mechanisms of virus evolution, the molecular epidemiology of important human pathogens, and the evolutionary processes that underpin viral emergence.