Building Australia’s workforce to boost the impact of infectious disease research on public health

April 3, 2019

APPRISE has partnered with two Australian Government networks to provide three exceptional early- and mid-career researchers with an inside look at how the Government protects the public from the threat of emerging infectious diseases.

The researchers will gain first-hand knowledge of how research can impact policy around infectious disease management, including preparing for and responding to pandemics.

Building a workforce with this knowledge is vital to ensuring Australia’s research efforts can be targeted to help minimise the impact of future infectious disease emergencies.

Ms Priyanka Pillai is a health data specialist working with APPRISE to develop strategies and infrastructure for gathering data during public health emergencies.

Ms Pillai has been awarded a 12-month observership to 2019 meetings of the Public Health Laboratory Network (PHLN).

“The insights into the activities of national level laboratories and genomics and infectious diseases research will help me to better understand the information needed to provide early warning for detection of new and emerging infectious diseases,” she said.

Six-month observerships to 2019 meetings of the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) were awarded to Dr Jason Kwong and Dr Sacha Stelzer-Braid.

Dr Kwong is an infectious disease physician in the Centre of Research Excellence in Protecting the Public from Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID) who works at Austin Health.

“This observership will help me learn about the frameworks and governance structures and will guide my research and help me understand how my findings might be implemented and translated into practice and policy.”

Dr Sacha Stelzer-Braid is a scientist focusing on emerging respiratory infections, including influenza and enteroviruses, in the Integrated Systems for Epidemic Response (ISER) Centre of Research Excellence.

“While my expertise is in molecular diagnostics and methods used to detect outbreaks, the CDNA Observership will build my understanding of policy and management of infectious diseases in Australia,” she said.

The three early- and mid-career researchers were drawn from five Australian centres of research excellence all working on various aspects of infectious disease emergencies:

  • APPRISE – Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies – Research to improve infectious disease emergency response
  • CREID – Centre of Research Excellence in Emerging Infectious Diseases – Getting new technologies into public health practice
  • HOT NORTH – Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North – Research and capacity building to mitigate chronic and infectious tropical disease threats
  • ISER – Integrated Systems for Epidemic Response – Systems research in biosecurity and epidemic response
  • PRISM2 – Policy Relevant Infectious disease Simulation and Mathematical Modelling – Developing new methods for studying disease distribution and transmission



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