Research and general staff

Alex Agyekum

Alex Agyekum

Alex is in his first year of a Ph.D. through the University of Sydney, under Professor Jon Iredell. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana in 2004. During his Honour’s thesis, Alex studied the prevalence of bacteria causing bacteraemia in children under five years old and the bacteria’s antimicrobial susceptibility patterns. In malaria endemic areas, fever is considered synonymous with malaria and treated accordingly, while a particular agent of invasive bacteraemia and malaria are practically indistinguishable by clinical presentation. As a result there is considerable overestimation of the incidence of malaria and subsequently bacteraemia is often incorrectly attributed to malaria. Through these studies, Alex earned a Master of Philosophy in Clinical Microbiology at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana.

He now plans to utilize his background to investigate potentially characteristic regions of anti-bacterial resistant, gram-negative bacteria. In the ICU, patients experiencing septic shock require immediate and correct management of treatments; however, antibiotic resistant bacteria are currently making this a very difficult task. Through his research, Alex aims to help find methods for rapid prediction of antibiotic resistance in septic patients.

An up-to-date list of publications is available on Medline


Paula Bustamante

Paula Bustamante

Paula obtained her degree in Biochemistry at theUniversity of Santiago (Chile) in 2007. During her Honour Thesis she studied mycoviruses from Botrytis cinerea, a phytopathogenic fungus. In 2013, she obtained her PhD. in Microbiology, at the University of Santiago (Chile). Her work was focused on the characterization of an Integrative and Conjugative Element (ICEAfe1) from the environmental acidophilic bacterium Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans. As a postdoctoral researcher at the Bacterial Molecular Biology’lab from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBM) at the University of Chile (Chile), her focus was the analysis and characterization of Toxin-Antitoxin (TA) systems encoded on A. ferrooxidans, with special emphasis on those encoded on mobile genetic elements (like the ICEAfe1). During her stayed on the Bacterial Molecular Biology’lab she also worked characterizing a putative riboswitch and tRNAs from A. ferrooxidans. She has presented her work at Chilean conferences as well as international conferences (ALAM, ASM Meeting and tRNA conference).

Paula is an awardee of postdoctoral BecasChile fellowship and has recently joined Jon Iredell’s group as a postdoctoral fellow. Her work is focused on studying plasmidial TA systems (addiction systems) in Enterobacteriaceae (E. coli and K. pneumoniae) and their relationship with antibiotic resistance in transmissible resistance plasmids.

An up-to-date list of publications is available here.


Alicia Fajardo Lubián

Alicia Fajardo Lubián

Alicia obtained her Bachelor in Biochemistry at University of Extremadura (Spain) in 2003. During her Honour Thesis she studied the L-arginige metabolism regulation by CpGs sequences in macrophages infected with Leishmania spp. In 2009, she obtained her PhD. in Molecular Biology, at the Microbial Biotechnology Department in Centro Nacional de Biotecnolog'a (CNB), Madrid, Spain. Her work was focused on understanding the structure of the networks connecting antibiotic resistance and virulence in P. aeruginosa. As a postdoctoral researcher, she has continued analyzing the impact of some particular mutations in the global transcription of P. aeruginosa. During 2012, she studied a M. Sc.in Clinical Trials Monitoring and for her work experience she joined Internal Medicine Area in Clinical Research Department in Janssen-Cilag, S.A in Madrid.

Alicia has recently joined Jon Iredell’s group as a postdoctoral researcher and her work is focused on studying the natural phenotype of commonly acquired β-lactam resistance mechanisms in Enterobacteriaceae (E. coli and K. pneumoniae).

An up-to-date list of publications is available on Medline


Andrew Ginn

Andrew Ginn

Andrew is a Research Officer at the Centre for Infectious Diseases/University of Sydney. He completed his PhD at the University of Sydney in 2010 investigating the virulence of the intracellular pathogen Bartonella henselae. Andrew joined CIDM as a Research Officer in 2010 with a focus on the development of rapid diagnostics for antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria and the epidemiology of mobile resistance genetics.

An up-to-date list of publications is available on Medline.


Lupe Isaia

Lupe Isaia

Lupe obtained her bachelor of Medical Science and her Master of Science in Medicine (Infection and Immunity) at the University of Sydney. She is now doing the Master of Philosophy, also through the University of Sydney, under the supervision of Professor Jon Iredell and Dr Andrew Ginn.

Her current research looks at the resistance genes and plasmids in Enterobacter cloacae. Also, she is investigating transmissible genes within selected Enterobacteriaceae isolates from the TTM Hospital in Samoa.


Muhammad Kamruzzaman

Muhammad Kamruzzaman

Muhammad (‘Kamal’) has been a CRE Research Fellow at the University of Sydney since September, 2011. He is also an Associate Scientist at the research group of Molecular Microbiology and Ecology at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B). He completed his PhD at Kyoto University, Japan in 2008 with a Monbukagakoshu scholarship (Japanese Government scholarship). His research work has been published major journals such as Nature and PNAS and his new focus is on addiction systems in transmissible resistance plasmids.

An up-to-date list of publications is available on Medline.


Lou Orszulak

Lou Orszulak

Lou's current role as the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology-Public Health (CIDM-PH) Project Officer, involves the promotion and management of the CIDM-PH education, research and development program. Funded by the NSW Ministry of Health, Population Health and Health Services Research Support (PHHSRS) Program, CIDM-PH is in its fourth round of funding, with aims to improve prevention and control of communicable diseases of public health importance through research projects in bacterial epidemiology & disease surveillance, antibiotic resistance surveillance & rapid diagnostics, viral epidemiology & disease surveillance, fungal epidemiology & invasive infections, and medical entomology.

Lou is involved in organising local and international workshops, conferences and symposia, newsletters, grant support, website management, reporting, financial management, HR, and quality improvement of operational procedures. Lou’s previous projects have included implementation of clinical standards in the Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS) Cancer Care Centre, co-ordination and facilitation of quality improvement teams and projects across SWAHS, and facilitation of education forums for clinical staff on the use of quality improvement tools and methodologies.


Sally Partridge

Sally Partridge

Sally is a Senior Hospital Scientist at the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology/Westmead Millennium Institute at Westmead Hospital and an honorary Senior Research Fellow (Faculty of Medicine) at the University of Sydney. Her main research interests and areas of expertise are in the genetics of antibiotic resistance and mobile genetic elements in Gram-negative bacteria. She has a total of 60 publications with >1900 total citations and has been/is a CI on grants totaling >$2.5 million AUD. The translational potential of CIC's work since moving to Westmead Hospital in 2005 was recognised by admission to Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia in 2011 as a Founding Fellow of the Faculty of Science.

After completing her D. Phil at Oxford University she has become one of the leading researchers in the area of the genetics of antibiotic resistance, and has been a member of the Editorial Board of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy since 2009. Sally has published two major reviews in this area, FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2011, FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2009 and co-developed a valuable annotation system for antibiotic resistance gene cassettes (Attacca).

An up-to-date list of publications is available on Medline.


Belinda Roychoudhry

Belinda Roychoudhry

Belinda has been a Hospital Scientist at the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at Westmead Hospital since 1998. She completed her BSc. honours in Professor Adrian Lee’s Helicobacter pylori research group at the University of New South Wales in 1997. In her early years at Westmead Hospital her research areas included investigating the pathogenesis and epidemiology of Bartonella henselae. Her focus now is studying the genetics of antibiotic resistance and assisting with the development of rapid diagnostic methods. As the laboratory manager, she deals with budgeting, administrative, OHS and scientific issues.

An up-to-date list of publications is available on Medline.


Rosemarie Sadsad

Rosemary Sadsad

Rosie is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology-Public Health (CIDM-PH). She conducted her PhD research at the Centre for Health Informatics, University of New South Wales and is qualified as a Computer and Biomedical Engineer (B. Computer Eng, M. Biomed Eng, 2004). Her research interests include the application of modelling and simulation to public health. She is currently involved with developing a system to alert infection control of potential MRSA transmission events and/or MRSA outbreaks in the hospital. As part of her PhD, she developed a simulation model to evaluate several hospital infection control policies for reducing the prevalence and incidence rate of MRSA infections.

She has worked as a research assistant for the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre where she developed models that project the prevalence of dementia and evaluates treatment therapies for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). She has also worked as a research assistant at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute applying bioinformatics to heart disease research.


Amith Shetty

Amith Shetty

Amith is a practicing Staff Specialist in the Emergency department at Westmead Hospital and Co-Director of Emergency Medical Research unit since 2013. He is also a clinical senior lecturer of Emergency Medicine at Westmead Clinical School and Honorary Research Fellow, NHMRC CRE in Critical Infection. His research interests include models of care, emergency department research and patient care outcomes; Sepsis.

An up-to-date list of publications is available via Sydney University Profiles.


Shereen Shoma

Shereen Shoma

Shereen has been a CRE Research Fellow at the University of Sydney since September, 2011. She is also Assistant Scientist in the research group of antibiotic, antibiotic resistance and infection control at the Centre for Communicable Diseases in ICDDR,B. She earned her PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology in 2008 from Kyoto University, Japan, with a Monbukagakoshu scholarship (Japanese Government scholarship). Her research interests involve understanding the mechanism of pathogenesis of pneumococcal infection. Her PhD work revealed a unique function of pneumolysin, a protein toxin of pneumococcus, in the induction of caspase-1-dependent cytokine production that could not be observed with LPS, a canonical TLR4 ligand. Her new research focus is on the development of innovative rapid diagnostics methods for molecular detection and characterization of bacterial pathogens. Her research work has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

An up-to-date list of publications is available on Medline


Mark Smith

Mark Smith

Mark completed his B.Sc (Hons) in 1981 studying Cysteine gene regulation in E.coli. Mark continued his research, working the Biochemistry department at the University of Sydney (now the School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences) in the laboratory of Professor Gerry Wake on the termination of DNA replication in Bacillus subtilis. He moved to Westmead Hospital in 1997 and was part of the team that established the Westmead Millennium Institute. He was involved in the design and construction of the first institute building on the Westmead Hospital grounds. He continued as operations manager and then facilities manager until the Institute became independent. Soon after assuming the role of research development manager within the Western Sydney Local Health District, Mark again became involved in research joining Prof Iredell’s team on a part time basis (approx. 0.2). Mark has enjoyed getting back to the bench and being part of an active research group.


Kaitlin Tagg

Kaitlin Tagg

Kaitlin is in her first year of a PhD through the University of Sydney, under Professor Jon Iredell and Dr Sally Partridge. Her Honours research, completed through Macquarie University, focused on the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in the sexually transmitted pathogen, Mycoplasma genitalium. Her current research has shifted to investigating Gram-negative bacteria, with a focus on the natural plasmid ecology of Escherichia coli in the human microbiome.

An up-to-date list of publications is available on Medline & BMJ


Lechelle Van Breda

Lechelle Van Breda

Lechelle is a Pork CRC funded student is in her second year of a PhD through the University of Sydney. She commenced her PhD after completing Honours in marine science and a double degree in a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales. Her current research focuses on pathogenic Escherichia coli disease that causes severe diarrhoea in neonatal and weaner piglets. Lechelle hopes to identify resistance patterns and virulence gene profiles in E. coli helping to understand the mechanisms that carry them within the population. Surveillance of E. coli resistance from both healthy and diseased piglets is necessary to anticipate any potential threat to both animal and public health.


Carola Venturini

Carola Venturini

Carola is a microbiologist whose research work has primarily focused on the role of mobile genetic elements in the evolution of infectious bacteria. Starting with her honours project, where she investigated the damaging effects of UV exposure on Antarctic moss DNA, her research has had primarily a genomic approach. In her PhD work, she studied the relationship between antibiotic resistance, virulence and mobile DNA in pathogenic E. coli isolates, and this area remains one of her main research interests. In order to deepen her expertise in the field of bacterial evolution, whilst completing and since award of her PhD, Dr. Venturini has been directly involved in research projects investigating links between horizontal gene transfer mechanisms and pathogenicity in Streptococcus pyogenes. This related to acquisition and transfer of virulence and antibiotic resistance determinants by phage and other integrative DNA elements, using both microbiology lab-based methods and bioinformatics.

Dr. Venturini recently joined Prof. Iredell’s research group and is currently involved in work relating to the ecology of the gut microbiome and mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in Enterobacteriaceae, she has published her work in high quality scientific journals and presented her work at a number of national conferences and internal meetings.

An up-to-date list of publications is available on Medline.


Emily Mascord

Emily Mascord

Emily completed her Dip in Event Management with high distinctions awarding her first place in the 2010 graduating year. Since then she has worked on a number of large scale events within the Mental Health NGO and Non Profit Sector. After completing a Cert IV in Training and Assessment she was given the opportunity to train people with lived experience of mental health illness in event registration and administrative procedures. The training included a practical element of managing the registration process at an industry conference run as a social enterprise, a very rewarding experience for everyone involved.

She joined the CRE Critical Infection team in April 2013 and is enjoying the new challenges this role brings, including course coordinator for the Critical Infection Short Course, website maintenance and administrative support to Prof. Jon Iredell and his research team.