BSc (UQ) Microbiology; PhD (James Cook University) Virology
Position: 
Professor
Room: 
553
Phone: 
+61 7336 54647
Biography: 

I received my BSc with Hons from the Department of Microbiology at UQ in 1980. I then joined QIMR as a research associate and later enrolled as a PhD student through James Cook University of Nth Queensland, studying the antigenic structure of mosquito-borne flaviviruses and developing novel methods for their detection and diagnosis. After receiving my PhD in 1989, I spent 5 years at UWA working with Prof John Mackenzie studying the structure and function of viral proteins, and developing recombinant viral vaccines and rapid diagnostics for mosquito-borne viruses.

I joined UQ as an NHMRC Senior Research Officer in 1995 and continued to work in the area of mosquito-borne viruses. I am currently Professor of Virology at the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and founding member of the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre at UQ.

Brief Research Description: 
Vector-borne viruses; structure/function of viral proteins; viral vaccines and diagnostics; virus discovery
Research Focus and Collaborations: 

A major research interest in my lab has been the study of the structure and function of flavivirus proteins with a focus on their role in viral pathogenesis and their potential as targets for antivirals and diagnostics. These studies focus on two globally important mosquito-borne pathogens, West Nile virus and Chikungunya virus. These studies have recently led to the development of novel vaccine candidates, potent immunotherapy agents and new diagnostic assays.

Another major theme of my research is viral ecology and epidemiology. This includes isolation and genetic characterisation of new arthropod-borne viruses and assessment of their distribution and activity by serological surveys and surveillance. These studies have led to the discovery of several new mosquito-borne viruses in Australia and spawned major projects for the development of novel reagents and methodologies to enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of viral detection and disease diagnosis.

Collaborating institutions include:
Vet School (UQ), Qld Health, QIMR, UWA, University of Sydney, Berrimah Vet Labs (Darwin), AAHL (Geelong), CDC and CSU (Fort Collins, Colorado), University of Glasgow, University of Auckland.

Funded Projects: 

Diagnostic tests for bacterial symbionts and arboviruses (Grand Challenges Exploration Grant with SCU, UWA, QIMR and QH)

Technologies to Enhance the Discovery and Surveillance of Vector-borne Viruses (with UWA and SCU)

Effect of the THERAFLEX UV-Platelets system on the infectivity of Chikungunya and Ross River viruses (with Red Cross) 

Emergence of a virulent strain of West Nile virus causing fatal equine encephalitis in South Eastern Australia (ARC Linkage - with NSW Department of Primary Industries & Hunter Valley Equine Reseacrh Centre)

Do insect-specific flavivuses regulate the transmission of mosquito-borne viral diseases in Australia? (ARC Discovery - with Qld Health)

Molecular pathogenesis of emerging West Nile viruses (NHMRC - with Alex Khromykh)

Development of the first veterinary vaccine to provide broad cross-protective immunity against multiple strategically-important Australian flaviviruses including Japanese encephalitis, Murray Valley encephalitis and West Nile virus (UQ-CIEF - with Helle Bielefeldt-0hmann at UQ Vet School)

Viral factors contributing to flavivirus-induced cell death and pathogenicity (NHMRC - with Alex Khromykh)

Teaching: 

Student Supervision:

I currently supervise/co-supervise 6 RHD students and 2 Honours students.

Co-ordinate:


Teach into:

  • MICR2000 - Microbiology and Immunology
  • MICR3001 – Microbes and Human Health
Significant Professional Activities and Awards: 

Awards:

2000 - James H, Nakano Award for outstanding Scientific paper describing the initial discovery and characterisation of the West Nile outbreak in North America (Lanciotti, R.S., Roehrig, J.T., Deubel, V., Smith, J., Parker, M., Steele, K., Volpe, K.E., Crabtree, J.H., Scherret, J.H., Hall, R.A., Mackenzie, J.S., Et Al. - Science, 1999).

 

Consultancies and Contractual Research:

Zoetis - licensing of reagents and research on vaccine development and assessment.

Red Cross - assessment of viral inactivation procedures for blood products.

VIDRL - PC3 viral diagnostic testing.

VecTest - development of rapid detection systems for arboviruses.

Selected Publications: