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Our research

Fostering multidisciplinary research in infectious diseases
The Marie Bashir Institute is leading cross-disciplinary research in emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases across Australia and the Asia-Pacific.

The Marie Bashir Institute aspires to mitigate the health and socioeconomic impacts of infectious diseases. By stimulating creative interaction, the Institute will generate novel insights and practical solutions.
 

Strategic research nodes

Rising rates of antimicrobial resistance herald a new threat.

Investigators from chemistry, biological sciences, medicine, geography, pharmacology, agriculture and veterinary science form this node to help ensure the availability of effective antimicrobial therapies into the future.

Projects include:

  • identifying new tuberculosis drugs from natural products
  • monitoring drug-resistant golden-staph infections in companion animals
  • investigating optimal antibiotic regiments in the critically ill
  • exploring stakeholder attitudes to antimicrobial resistance
  • fungicide use in agriculture and drug-resistance in human fungal infections.

Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, is a devastating disease that serves as a potential marker of new or emerging infections.

In partnership with the Brain and Mind Centre, this research node brings together a number of groups working on infectious and immunological disorders affecting the brain and nervous system.

Projects include:

  • the Australian Childhood Encephalitis Study to understand the causes and impacts of acute encephalitis in children
  • bridging the gap from the cradle to the mosh pit ­– studying the links between childhood encephalitis and brain disorders in adolescents
  • veterinarians as sentinels for zoonoses, eg Bartonella infections and diseases caused by mosquitoes, flies and ticks
  • national and international collaborations, e.g. research on the Zika virus with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

Infectious diseases are not only caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites. They are also shaped by social, economic, political, legal and cultural conditions.

In many instances these conditions are inseparable from the success or otherwise of the biomedical goals contained in disease prevention, control and treatment strategies.

This node draws from expertise across the University in ethics, history, political science, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, public health, clinical sciences and public policy. The key aim is to produce research that critically examines and explores infections in their broadest context and seeks to have significant impact across practice, systems and policies at local, state, federal and international levels.

Projects include:

  • ethical challenges in dealing with new surveillance and diagnostic technologies
  • community perceptions of antibiotic resistance and human-animal interactions
  • ending tuberculosis in Australia and the region – identifying ethical and culturally appropriate solutions
  • exploring historical, social and cultural contexts of mosquito-borne diseases.

Delivering sufficient, safe, ethical and nutritious food in a sustainable manner is one of the world’s greatest challenges.

This node is in collaboration with the Charles Perkins Centre, the Australian and New Zealand Fresh Produce Safety Centre and experts in nutrition, diversity and safety. Focusing on ways communities can access safe and nutritious food while ensuring the natural systems their food comes from remain ecologically sustainable.

Projects include:

  • implementing participatory, nutrition-sensitive and gender-sensitive interdisciplinary research projects in Southeast Asia, the Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa and in Australia
  • collaborating with public and private sector and civil society partners in Australia and globally
  • mentoring interdisciplinary cohorts of graduate students from Australia and partner countries.

Interested in this research project? More about healthy food systems

Chronic diseases, both infectious and non-communicable, are the leading cause of premature death in low and middle-income countries.

Chronic disease programs are often siloed and co-morbidities (additional disorders or diseases co-occurring with a primary disease or disorder) are ignored. This multidisciplinary team is developing a program of research to strengthen the evidence base for integrated primary healthcare, locally and globally. The node combines a new academic community focused on the delivery of integrated chronic disease management at the primary healthcare level, and has strong links with the George Institute for Global Health.

Projects include:

  • use of mobile devices to guide integrated chronic disease management by primary healthcare providers and accredited social health activists in India
  • workshop to explore options for integrated care in Pacific Island nations
  • linking tuberculosis care and cardiovascular disease risk reduction.

The largest mass gathering on Earth is the Islamic pilgrimage that brings 3-4 million people from all over the world to Mecca (Makkah), Saudi Arabia, every year.

Known as the Hajj pilgrimage, all Muslims aspire to perform it at least once in their lifetime. It provides a highly conducive environment for the transmission and global spread of infectious diseases – and it also provides a perfect opportunity for researchers to study these infections and the risk factors associated with transmission. This node examines the risk of acquiring an infection while attending a mass gathering, together with policy interventions to protect personal and public health.

Projects include:

  • effectiveness of face masks in the prevention of respiratory virus infection among Hajj pilgrims
  • protection offered by different meningitis vaccines
  • monitoring mobile genetic elements associated with drug-resistant infections
  • carriage of resistance elements by food handlers and sewage during Hajj
  • acquisition of respiratory colonisation during Hajj
  • systematic review on antimicrobial resistance acquisition among travellers.

Zoonoses are diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans.

Most human infectious diseases are of zoonotic origin. Many factors influence the emergence of zoonotic infections including the evolution of pathogens, ever-growing human and animal populations (particularly production and companion animals), and ecological disturbance. This node brings together experts in veterinary epidemiology, public health, infectious diseases, social sciences, ecology and environmental sciences to conduct research on zoonotic pathogens, to investigate drivers of emerging zoonotic diseases, and to develop measures for preventing and predicting new zoonoses.

Projects include:

  • identifying non-Hendra brain infections in horses
  • Q fever – how common is it and how can we best prevent it?
  • Brucella suis – occurrence in pigs, dogs and people in NSW
  • rabies incursion risk to Northern Australia
  • brucellosis in India – using vets as sentinels.
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Image bank

Parasitology image collection

Historic archive of images produced by Dr John Walker during his career as a medical parasitologist.

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