On Wednesday 7th of December 2022, we hosted the official launch of the Centre.
The launch brought together a range of colleagues from Barwon Health and Deakin University. Many joined virtually to hear what the Centre will bring to our institutes and how to be involved. It was an exciting morning filled with presentations and new opportunities!
We were privileged to hear from the CEO of Barwon Health, Ms Fances Diver complemented by the Deakin DVCR Professor Julie Owens. We heard from Professor Peter Enticott the Associate Dean of Research at Deakin followed by Professor Peter Vuillermin, Barwon Health Director of Research. Peter highlighted the new Barwon Health Research Strategic Plan and how this allows for increased partnerships, improved translation and improved clinical trials capability. The new plan will increase research focus and overall high quality health outcomes.
The launch provided an opportunity to hear from our Co-Directors Professor Alyssa Barry and Professor Eugene Athan to discuss the flagship projects currently progressing in CIIDIR.
Prof. Alyssa Barry described the malaria studies conducted throughout Africa, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Myanmar and Solomon Islands. These studies focus largely on using genomics to understand malaria epidemiology in the context of control and elimination efforts to map transmission and risk of disease, antigenic diversity and drug resistance. She also described the ground-breaking work of Professor Tania de Koning Ward’s team, who focus on understanding the biology of the malaria parasite leading to new vaccines and drugs.
Prof. Eugene Athan highlighted three flagship projects his team are working on including:
The long-term physical and psychological consequences of COVID-19 infection. Here, Eugene explained a comparative observational study conducted in Regional Victoria. The study uses data collected from COVID-19 patients diagnosed in late 2020 (second wave) although enrolled 6 months post covid infection in 2021. The participant’s physical and biochemical recovery from COVID-19 were assessed to determine psychological effects and immune responses in positive/recovered COVID-19 participants.
Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia identified in a clinical cohort of 158 individuals with community acquired infections was studied. This study shows that individuals with a high C-reactive protein concentration have increased odds of complications.
- Mycobacterium ulcerans
The Buruli Ulcer (BU) case-control study in Victoria is to identify host, environmental and behavioural factors associated with BU in endemic areas of Victoria. BU affects most of the Mornington Peninsula and now progressed throughout the Bellarine. This case study identifies the importance of protective measures. Measures including insect repellent and immediately washing and applying antiseptic to wounds as a preventative measure of contracting BU. The study also revealed Mycobacterium ulcerans DNA in possum and fox faeces.
- Barwon Infant Study
Professor Peter Vuillermin highlighted the phenomenal work of the Barwon Infant Study (BIS) which focuses on understanding allergy in offspring. The maternal microbiome during pregnancy affects the composition of immune cells in infancy possibly leading to allergy. These studies highlight the importance of antibiotic stewardship during pregnancy as well as diets that optimise the maternal gut microbiome. BIS closely follows more than 1,000 Geelong mothers and their children, collecting samples which has contributed to one of the most complete early life ‘biobank’ in the world.
Furthermore, the CIIDIR Launch was a huge success. We thank everyone that could attend in person and virtually to hear what the Centre has to offer and hopes to achieve. The Centre hopes to connect researchers with other teams and clinicians to increase opportunities for high impact and translatable research. Thus ultimately improving the outcome of infectious diseases locally and worldwide.