Program Head, END RHD and Team Lead, Healthy Skin and ARF Prevention
BA MBBS DCH FRACP PhD
Areas of expertise: Skin infections, clinical trials, Streptococcus pyogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Aboriginal children, COVID-19.
Associate Professor Asha Bowen is a clinician-researcher at Perth Children’s Hospital and Telethon Kids Institute. She is Head of Department of Infectious Diseases at Perth Children’s Hospital and Program Head of the END RHD Program at Telethon Kids Institute. This uniquely positions her for rapid translation of research results from bush to bench to bedside and beyond, with impact globally.
The END RHD Program has a mission to conduct the research needed to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2031. Leading the program of over 70 research staff, is complemented by her leadership of the Healthy Skin and ARF Prevention Team. This dedicated group of 20 higher degree students and research staff were recognised as the best team at Telethon Kids Institute in 2022 under Asha’s leadership.
A/Prof Bowen received her Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP) as a paediatric infectious disease specialist in 2009. Her NHMRC-funded PhD (2010–2014, Menzies School of Health Research), a randomised controlled trial of impetigo treatment in remote Aboriginal children, was published in The Lancet, with the results translated into national and international guidelines. She has >15 years’ experience leading infectious diseases research and investigator-initiated clinical trials focusing on issues significant to Aboriginal child health.
A/Prof Bowen is currently the lead investigator for the SToP Trial to “see, treat and prevent” skin infections, a large cluster randomised trial with a stepped wedge design throughout the Kimberley region in Western Australia. Community engagement over several years formed the foundation of the SToP Trial and ensured the study was guided by the Aboriginal co-investigators and community members. A/Prof Bowen has taken lessons learned from this project to develop an approach towards understanding the burden of skin infections among urban-living children in WA through the Koolungar Moorditj Healthy Skin project guided by local Elders and Co-researchers.
Within the Staphylococcus aureus research space, A/Prof Bowen leads the paediatric arm of the Staphylococcus aureus Network Adaptive Platform (SNAP) Trial – SNAPP-PY. SNAP aims to improve treatment outcomes for patients with S. aureus bloodstream infections – aiming to test multiple different antibiotic options at the same time.
In 2020, A/Prof Bowen pivoted into COVID-19 research to complement her other fields and is was a lead investigator of the WA DETECT-Schools study and chair of the Australasian COVID-19 Trial (ASCOT) global steering committee.
A/Prof Bowen has received numerous awards in recognition of her outstanding research, including:
- 2022 Australian Society of Infectious Diseases Frank Fenner Award
- 2020 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science
- 2020 NHMRC Investigator Award as an Emerging Leader (her third consecutive NHMRC people support award)
- 2019 WA Tall Poppy Science Award
- 2018 L’Oréal UNESCO Women in Science Fellowship – one of only 4 awarded nationally, and an Australian finalist for the International Rising Talents Award
- 2017 Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year at the WA Premier's Science Awards
She is also the Chair of the Australian and New Zealand Paediatric Infectious Diseases committee, Deputy Chair of the Australasian Society of Infectious Diseases clinical research network and Vice Present of World Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases.