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Co-Director, Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases; Co-Head, Bacterial Respiratory Infectious Disease Group; Microbiology Lead, Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines & Infectious Diseases


Dr Lea-Ann Kirkham is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia and an Honorary Fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute. Dr Kirkham took on the role of Co-director of the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases in July 2019, and also leads Microbiology research within the Centre. Dr Kirkham's vision is to develop improved therapies, including vaccines and vaccine schedules, to significantly reduce the global burden of childhood ear and lung diseases.

Dr Kirkham currently leads a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)-funded project to develop a probiotic to prevent ear and lung infections. She is also co-investigator on an NHMRC-funded clinical trial in Papua New Guinea comparing different vaccines and combinations of vaccines to find the best approach to protect infants from pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis in PNG. Data from this study will guide vaccine policy for low-income countries.

Dr Kirkham’s PhD research at Glasgow University led to development of a vaccine antigen to prevent pneumonia and meningitis. Her research on the rise in febrile convulsions after the seasonal influenza vaccine in 2010 contributed to nationwide cessation of a particular ‘flu vaccine for all children under 5 years of age. Her team’s research on identifying the predominant cause of ear infections in Australian children contributed to introduction of a new vaccine onto the National Immunisation Program. This vaccine has recently been shown to reduce ear infection rates in Indigenous Australian children.


Wiping out childhood ear infections

Meet Dr Lea-Ann Kirkham

Dr Lea-Ann Kirkham is the lead organiser of the 6th National Otitis Media Australia (OMOZ) conference, being held in Perth in October 2020.

The OMOZ conference brings together a wide range of people dedicated to improving ear health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Participants attend from throughout Australia, including community Elders, parents, doctors, nurses, researchers, and teachers.

The overall mission is to give every Australian child the right to hear.

The OMOZ organising committee is currently seeking a Noongar graphic designer/artist to design the logo & digital artwork for the Perth 2020 conference. Click here to view the design brief or email for more information.