BEAT COVID-19 Researcher Profiles

BEAT COVID-19 Researcher Profiles

CREID and APPRISE collaboration led by Directors of each Centre of Research Excellence; Professor Tania Sorrell and Professor Sharon Lewin.

Professor Tania Sorrell

Professor Tania Sorrell, AM is Director of the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity (MBI) and Chair of the NHMRC’s Research Translation Faculty Steering Group on New and Emerging Health Threats. She is an internationally renowned infectious diseases physician and medical mycologist whose research focuses on invasive fungal infections. She has a long-standing interest in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, especially in immunocompromised individuals. As a leading international researcher on Cryptococcus, she has made major contributions toward understanding the mechanisms by which these fungi cause invasive infections. Professor Sorrell’s research on virulence determinants in C neoformans aims to develop new fungal diagnostic tests and new treatments.

Her work has resulted in the development of clinically-useful rapid diagnostic tests (e.g. for brain infections). Professor Sorrell’s leadership was instrumental in establishing the MBI, a multi-faculty, multidisciplinary institute devoted to reducing the risks from and global impact of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, especially in the Asia-Pacific Region. She has successfully created multidisciplinary research networks including medical and veterinary sciences, biological sciences, and humanities and social sciences, in an effort to improve capacity in Australia and abroad, in diagnostics, surveillance, infection control and infectious disease prevention. She leads the MBI’s functioning as an expert resource in infectious diseases and biosecurity for government and professional bodies.

Professor Sorrell is a regular expert contributor to international policy-forming bodies including the WHO and is a Senior Adviser at GAFFI (Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections). In 2014, she was awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM), for significant service to medicine and the community as an infectious diseases researcher and adviser.

Read more about Tania here.

    Professor Sharon Lewin

    Professor Sharon Lewin AO is the inaugural director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital; Professor of Medicine, the University of Melbourne; consultant infectious diseases physician, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. The Doherty Institute has over 700 staff entirely focused on infection and immunity. The institute includes public health laboratories, clinicians, public health physicians and epidemiologists and fundamental discovery research.

    Her research focuses on understanding why HIV persists on treatment and developing clinical trials aimed at ultimately finding a cure for HIV infection. Her laboratory has had extensive experience with supporting interventional clinical trials and has developed numerous quantitative assays for detection of low levels of HIV. Professor Lewin co-leads the laboratory research area for APPRISE and is a member of the executive leadership group.

    Professor Lewin is an elected member of the governing council of the International AIDS Society and, in 2016, she was awarded the Peter Wills Medal from Research Australia.

    In 2019, Professor Lewin was appointed as an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia and, in 2014, she was named Melburnian of the Year.

    Read more about Sharon here.

      BEAT COVID-19 Project 1

      A nationally networked COVID-19 registry and COVID-19 imaging databank (iBank).

      Project co-leads:

      Tom Snelling
      Stuart Grieve

        Professor Thomas Snelling

        Tom is director of the Health and Clinical Analytics team in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, and an infectious diseases physician in the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network. He has instigated and is now heading up the network’s new Learning Health Initiative thanks to a major philanthropic commitment from the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation. He is also newly appointed as the Strategic Platform Chair of Sydney Health Partners initiative in utilising digital health and informatics research to optimise models of care and care delivery. Tom is pioneering in the application of Bayesian approaches to the design, coordination, implementation and analysis of public interest studies, and is successfully leading a suite of multi-institutional collaborative learning health projects across Australia. Working with a range of collaborative research groups across diverse clinical domain areas, these include Bayesian adaptive studies to improve the treatment and prevention of severe gastroenteritis in remote Aboriginal children, the primary prevention of food allergies in children, SMS text messages to improve timeliness of routine immunisation, and the management of cystic fibrosis.

        Read more about Tom here.

          Professor Stuart Grieve

          Stuart Michael Grieve (SMG) is a clinician/scientist with a career focus on applying non-invasive imaging in healthcare and achieving fundamental advances in basic imaging science such as new imaging or image processing technologies. He is the Parker Hughes Professor of Radiology at the University of Sydney (USYD) and also a radiologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH). He was primarily a neuroimaging researcher until 2013, when he switched to a focus on both, cardiovascular and brain. His laboratory is at the Charles Perkins Centre (USYD) where his team pursues a research program that extends from basic imaging science, post-processing, basic physiology of the cardiovascular system and brain to clinical translational studies that aim to directly alter practice. The major focus of his research is the quantitative analysis imaging data, especially direct measures of neurological, blood flow and myocardial function using MRI. There is a large bias in his work toward imaging methods that are amenable to computational methods, as well as to the use of computational simulations that are informed by real data. SMG completed a BSc (Hons I) at the USYD in 1996 in Biochemistry, followed by DPhil in Magnetic Resonance Imaging at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship from 1996-2000. He then undertook two post-doctoral fellowships at Oxford in high-field NMR (Prof Tony Watts) and high-field cardiac MRI (Prof Kieran Clarke) before returning to Australia to continue his research and to undertake clinical training. He completed an MBBS(Hons) in 2006, then residency and Radiology Specialist training at RPAH between 2007-2012. SMG is a leader of basic and translational imaging research across the USYD, the Australian imaging community as well as overseas. He has a Citation Index of 34, 3800 citations and 115 papers.

          Read more about Stuart here.

            BEAT COVID-19 Project 2

            Rapid national sero-surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 exposure in key groups at risk of COVID-19.

            Project co-leads:

            Professor Kristine Macartney
            Professor John Kaldor
            Professor Matthew O’Sullivan.

              Professor Kristine Macartney

              Professor Kristine Macartney is a paediatrician specialising in infectious diseases and vaccinology She is a medical graduate of the University of New South Wales and undertook her specialty training in Sydney and in the United States at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her Doctorate of Medicine was on rotavirus infection, in particular the mucosal immune response to novel vaccine candidates. She was a foundational member of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Kristine is currently the Director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), a paediatric infectious disease consultant at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and a Professor in the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney. Her research interests include translation of evidence into policy and practice, vaccine safety, and most other areas of vaccine preventable diseases research, particularly in relation to rotavirus, varicella zoster virus and influenza. She is the senior editor of the Australian Immunisation Handbook (9th and10th Editions and online) and has authored >130 peer-reviewed publications. She is a member of the Advisory Committee on Vaccines (ACV) of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (CDNA) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). She has acted as an expert consultant to the World Health Organisation (WHO). She also leads the Australian national AusVaxSafety and Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) networks, and is the founding chair of the Australian Regional Immunisation Alliance (ARIA).

              Read more about Kristine here.

                Scientia Professor John Kaldor

                John Kaldor is a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and UNSW Scientia Professor. He holds a doctorate in Biostatistics from the University of California. Berkeley, and began his research career at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France. For over 30 years he has built and led internationally recognised research programs at UNSW on the epidemiology and prevention of infectious diseases.

                His research has covered a wide range of projects, including the development and implementation of public health surveillance systems, investigations of infection-related cancer, cohort and cross-sectional investigations of risk factors for infectious disease transmission, and interventional trials of disease prevention strategies.

                With over 750 peer reviewed scientific publications that have been cited collectively over 30,000 times, Professor Kaldor has been a highly influential contributor to public health knowledge. His work has guided policy in disease control, particularly in relation to the prevention of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections, viral hepatitis and neglected tropical diseases. Professor Kaldor has also served on numerous policy and advisory committees in Australia and Internationally. He has had close working relationships with public health programs in a number of countries of the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Solomon Islands.

                Professor Kaldor is a past President of the Australasian Epidemiological Association, and currently serves as a ministerially appointed member of the Repatriation Medical Authority. He was co-chair of the 2012 International Microbicides Conference and has been an invited speaker at a range of national and international forums.

                Read more about John here.

                  Dr Matthew O’Sullivan

                  Dr O’Sullivan is an Infectious Diseases Physician and Medical Microbiologist. He has a clinical interest in staphylococcal infection, tropical medicine, HIV, infections in immunocompromised hosts and diagnosis, management and clinical biocontainment for High Consequence Infectious Diseases such as Ebola and COVID-19. His research interest is in genotyped-based surveillance of pathogens responsible for hospital-aqcuired infections. He graduated in medicine from the University of Queensland in 1996 and has a Master of Medicine (Clinical Epidemiology) from the University of Sydney and a Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He was awarded his PhD from the University of Sydney in 2013 for a thesis entitled “A prospective methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus typing system for infection control: Design and effectiveness”.

                  Read more about Matthew here.

                    BEAT COVID-19 Project 3

                    T and B-cell responses in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2

                    Project co-leads:

                    Irani Thevarajan (SETREP-COVID19)
                    Rowena Bull (COSIN)
                    John-Sebastian Eden (Returned traveller cohorts/viral genomics studies NSW)
                    Phil Britton (National PAEDS cohort)
                    Tony Cunningham and Sarah Palmer (NSW aged cohort)
                    David Smith (Returned traveller cohorts/viral genomics studies WA)
                    Fabienne Briliot and Allison Imrie (Neutralising anitbody studies – all cohorts)

                      Dr Irani Thevarajan

                      Dr Irani Thevarajan is an infectious disease physician and is active as a Senior Staff Specialist at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Service and as an Honorary Fellow at the Nossal Institute for Global Health. Irani is involved in multiple research activities in the areas of dengue, travel medicine and Antimicrobial Stewardship.

                      Irani has a wide range of clinical and research expertise in infectious diseases including in dengue, arboviral infections and influenza. She has an active teaching and organisation role in the local Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Course that is coordinated by the University of Melbourne, the Burnet Institute and the Faculty of Tropical Medicine at Mahidol University, Thailand. In addition, as part of Antimicrobial Stewardship, Irani engages in regular quality assurance audits and research programs in specialised patient groups such as those in the Intensive Care Unit and the Haematology Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

                      Read more about Irani here.

                        Associate Professor Rowena Anne Bull

                        I am an early career researcher studying viral evolution of RNA viruses, in particular, hepatitis C virus, norovirus and influenza. I have been investigating the viral and host factors that different RNA viruses use to generate diversity and maintain their survival in the population. We take an interdisciplinary approach involving cutting edge virological, immunological and bioinformatic techniques. Our contribution to virology ranges from the development of virological in vitro based fitness assays, viral gene expression studies, molecular epidemiology, evolutionary analysis of adaptive immune responses against RNA viruses, and bioinformatics. A recent research focus has been the analysis of over 30 million nucleotides generated through next generation sequencing approaches in a longitudinal study of ten HCV infected patients (Bull, Luciani et al. PLoS pathogens 2011).

                        Read more about Rowena here.

                          Dr John-Sebastian Eden

                          Dr John-Sebastian Eden is Research Scientist in Bioinformatics and Genomics based at the Westmead Insitute for Medical Research and Senior Research Fellow in the Sydney Medical School. Dr Eden is a Virologist, who joined the University of Sydney in 2013 with a post-doctoral position in the research group of Professor Eddie Holmes and supported by an NHMRC early career fellowship. Dr Eden has a strong background in viral genome sequencing and analysis, including the application of next-generation sequencing protocols and state-of-the-art bioinformatics methods.

                          Read more about John here.

                            Dr Philip Britton

                            Dr Britton is a Paediatric Infectious Diseases physician and Early Career Researcher based at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

                            His research focuses on severe neurological infections in children, especially encephalitis. In his PhD he has coordinated the Australian Childhood Encephalitis study, a prospective cohort describing the causes and consequences of this severe syndrome in children.

                            His other research interests include: Tuberculosis, Tropical diseases, and Staphylococcus aureus infections.

                            Read more about Phil here.

                              Professor Anthony Cunningham

                              Professor Anthony (Tony) Cunningham, AO,FAHMS is an infectious diseases physician, clinical virologist and scientist, internationally renowned for his research on the immunobiology of HIV and herpesviruses, his work on vaccine and microbicide development, and as an antivirals expert. He is the Director of the Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Virology Research (ACH2), a Commonwealth Government-funded institute that aims combat the impact of HIV and hepatitis in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region by bringing together basic researchers with translational scientists and physicians.

                              Read more about Tony here.

                                Professor Sarah Palmer

                                Dr. Sarah Palmer is the Co-Director of the Centre for Virus Research at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research and Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney School of Medicine.

                                Prior to taking up this position in early 2013, she was a Senior Researcher at the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Karolinska Institutet, in Stockholm, Sweden from 2008 to 2012. From 2000 to 2008, she headed the Virology Core Facility of the HIV Drug Resistance Program, National Cancer Institute, US National Institutes of Health, where she led efforts to develop and perfect highly-sensitive assays such as the single-copy assay and single-cell sequencing assay which provide new insights into HIV pathogenesis and persistence during long-term suppressive therapy.

                                Read more about Sarah here.

                                  Professor David Smith

                                  Clinical Professor David Smith studied Medicine at The University of Western Australia, and trained as a Medical Microbiologist/Virologist in Perth, where he currently works as a Medical Microbiologist at PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA (PathWest), and as Director of the QE2 Medical Centre PathWest Network. He is also a Clinical Professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Western Australia, and is Director of the National Influenza Centre and of the Arbovirus Research and Surveillance Unit at PathWest.

                                  Read more about David here.

                                    Associate Professor Fabienne Brilot-Turville

                                    Fabienne Brilot-Turville is a neuroimmunologist Principal Research Fellow at the University of Sydney. She heads the Brain Autoimmunity laboratory within Kids Neuroscience Centre at Kids Research at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Her research interests are the detection and role of autoantibodies in brain immune-mediated diseases including brain demyelination and movement disorders. Fabienne also heads the Brain Autoantibody Testing Referral Centre which provides autoantibody testing for diagnosis purposes.

                                    Read more about Fabienne here.

                                      Associate Professor Allison Imrie

                                      Dr Allison Imrie is a scientist with a background in virology and anti-viral immunity. Her early work with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) focussed on virus transmission between transmitter and recipient pairs, including transmission of antiviral drug resistant HIV species. She also characterised immune responses in early HIV infection. She was invited to work with the Global Program on AIDS in the World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Office as a short term consultant to advise member states to develop short and medium term plans for AIDS prevention and control and to assist with establishing HIV testing and surveillance programs. This experience informed her subsequent work on mosquito-borne viral diseases of public health importance including dengue, and investigations of viral molecular epidemiology and immunopathogenesis. She has worked with colleagues in the Asia Pacific region to investigate neglected tropical diseases including dengue, Zika, Chikungunya and leptospirosis, and in Australia on endemic viruses including Ross River virus. She collaborates with colleagues in Australia and the US to identify novel mosquito-borne viruses. Most recently she has been funded to investigate immune responses in people diagnosed with coronavirus infection.

                                      Read more about Allison here.

                                        BEAT COVID-19 Project 4

                                        Host (patient) genetic biomarkers to direct clinical decision making.

                                        Project leader:

                                        Benjamin Tang

                                          Dr Benjamin Tang

                                          Dr Benjamin Tang is an Associate Professor of Intensive Care Medicine, University of Sydney. He is a critical care physician and is the head of the Nepean Genomic Research Group at the Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Nepean Hospital.

                                          Dr Benjamin Tang received his medical training at Sydney Medical School. He is a Fellow of College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand. He received his clinical epidemiology training at the School of Public Health, University of Sydney. He had published several highly cited systemic reviews and meta-analyses in Lancet, Lancet Infectious Diseases and Critica Care Medicine. Upon completion of his study at School of Public Health, he went on to undertake PhD work in the laboratory of geneticist Ian Dawes. His research in the genomic study of sepsis led to him receiving the NHMRC Post-doctoral fellowship. During his post-doctoral years, he worked with immunogeneticist David Booth to investigate the immune response of influenza infection.

                                          Read more about Ben here.