NHMRC Centres of research excellence

  CENTRES OF RESEARCH EXCELLENCE

CRE: Australian Partnership (for) Preparedness Research on InfectiouS (disease) Emergencies (APPRISE)

CIB:  Professor Tania Sorrell

CIH: Professor Lyn Gilbert

Associate Investigator:  Professor Angus Dawson

We have assembled national experts in clinical, laboratory and public health research to ensure Australia is equipped for a coordinated, effective and evidence based response to infectious diseases. This multidisciplinary team will create and share new knowledge to detect, prevent and manage emerging infection threats. We will train a robust cross-sectoral work force and develop sustainable research capacity integrated within the health system to ensure national and regional health security.

APP 1116530 - $5million - commencing 2016 (5 years)

CRE in protecting the public from emerging infectious diseases

CIA:  Professor Tania Sorrell

Genomics, informatics and ethics research for more effective public health action and policy

  • Theme 1: Pathogen emergence and spread – prevention and mitigation of risks. CREID will use the evolutionary analysis of WGS of selected pathogens as a common framework for the “genomic risk assessment” of pathogen emergence and spread. Identifying high-risk lineages and “clones” will more accurately inform public health responses to new outbreaks. We have chosen exemplar pathogens that are prevalent in the region, have been identified as of particular concern to/within Australia and represent different ecologies, selection pressures, transmission routes and control strategies. We will determine the ecological and epidemiological contexts and genetic mechanisms that drive their evolution and use these data to develop novel approaches to prevention.
  • Theme 2: Rapid, targeted public health responses to EID threats depend on integration of early warning and risk assessment with rapid mitigation and response strategies. Our researchers are already integrated into disease control agencies in four states and territories. We will pay particular attention to new types of data that are becoming available either through high-resolution genomic and syndromic surveillance or contact networks captured by social media or geolocatable devices such as wearable sensors or smartphones. Integration and secure linkage of these data streams offer a powerful research platform to identify risk factors for disease transmission and test targeted interventions in real-life and simulated environments.
  • Theme 3: Translation into effective practice and policy. We will develop ethical frameworks for: the collection and use of novel surveillance data; translation of evidence, derived from these data, into policy; and community/healthcare preparedness plans for, and responses to, EIDs. Drawing on published literature and the perspectives of policymakers, practitioners and the public, we will identify and address ethical and legal barriers to the introduction of new technologies so as to optimise effective communicable disease surveillance strategies and allow optimal use of data by researchers. We aim to improve researchers’ understanding of policy development and public health practitioners’ understanding of research, and so expedite translation of evidence into policy. We will develop a separate ethical framework to guide early responses to EID threats, when information is limited and rapidly changing, to help allay associated fear, uncertainty and indecision.
 More information can be found on the CREID website
 

CRE in Tuberculosis control: from discovery to public health practice and policy

CIA:  Professor Warwick Britton

Control and, ultimately, the elimination of one of the world’s major infectious diseases, TB, is a key goal of the WHO and is captured in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (Goal 6). This multidisciplinary CRE in TB control will strengthen and extend existing national, regional and international networks and provide a major resource for training, strategic research and translation into policy.

There will be a specific focus on the neglected area of TB in children and the emerging problem of drug resistant TB.  The following major challenges will be addressed:

  1. Improved TB prevention
    Development and evaluation of new vaccines essential for the long-term control of TB, evaluation of pragmatic risk assessment and prevention strategies
  2. Enhanced case detection and management
    Exploration of novel biomarkers, field evaluation of feasible rapid diagnostics, implementation of active case finding strategies
  3. Advanced tracking of transmission events
    Understanding and limiting transmission; development and application of highly discriminatory strain typing methods, linked to targeted public health responses
  4. Ethical-legal barriers to TB control
    Detailed analysis of contentious ethical and legal issues to improve TB legislation and policy; infection control, patient confidentiality, individual preventive therapy to minimize community risk, provision of optimal care

More information can be found on the TB CRE website

 

 CRE in Critical Infections

CIA:  Professor Jon Iredell

In 2010 Medical researchers at the University of Sydney's Westmead Millennium Institute were awarded a $2.5m National Health and Medical Research Council grant to establish a Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Critical Infectious Diseases at Westmead.  The internationally recognised team, led by the University of Sydney's Professor Jon Iredell, has a distinguished track record for its pioneering work in infectious diseases.

This program is designed to address infections and infection risk in the people most likely to die from them, in which research is most difficult and most urgently needed. We define critical infections threats as those with the greatest impact on mortality and morbidity of the seriously ill, in which the health system is most invested (e.g., septic shock in the ICU; opportunistic infections in transplant patients, etc.), and/or are most damaging to public health and the health infrastructure (e.g., pandemic respiratory viruses and antibiotic-resistant bacteria).

Apparently disparate threats such as antibiotic resistance, viral pandemics, and emerging fungi have several features in common, including their capacity to emerge from a background of like infections in the form of a new epidemic, often due to some genetic change that allows them to bypass antimicrobials or vaccines. The most rapidly evolving of these (antibiotic resistant Gram-negative bacteria, and RNA viruses such as influenza) also share a pattern of rapid recombinant evolution in their gene pools which has previously defeated our attempts at surveillance and control, but which are open to new tools in the fields of genomics, biotechnology and information systems. We will bring these tools to bear to train researchers, clinicians, and policy makers in their use, and develop data to underpin multidisciplinary research programs by teams of investigators with complementary expertise. 

More information can be found on the CRE in Critical Infections website

 

Centre for Improving Cancer Outcomes through Enhanced Infection Services (IMPACT)

CIA:  Professor Monica Slavin, Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology

CIF:  Professor Sharon Chen

This Centre of Research Excellence will translate the best available evidence to improve cancer outcomes through better management of infections in cancer patients, a rapidly growing group. We will establish new research networks to detect emerging multi resistant infections, develop guidelines on how to manage them, implement locally successful programs that have been shown to save lives nationally and validate new practice changing immune, bioinformatics and diagnostic technologies.

APP 1116876 - $2.5million - commencing 2016 (5 years)