Top scientist recruited to WA for HOT NORTH Fellowship
The Telethon Kids Institute has recruited a top Australian scientist back home to WA to embark on a Fellowship to help close critical gaps in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-indigenous children.
Dr Timothy Barnett, who has lived and worked in Queensland and the USA for the past 17 years, is one of five post-doctoral health professionals awarded Fellowships to improve health outcomes in northern Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.
The career development fellowships are an integral component of the HOT NORTH program, which aims to develop a new generation of researchers to help to close the gap in Indigenous health disadvantage in the north, provide new evidence to combat tropical diseases and prepare and protect the north from emerging infectious threats.
HOT NORTH has five themes, with one Fellow appointed to each; skin health, respiratory health, chronic diseases, antimicrobial resistance and emerging threats and diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.
New Telethon Kids Institute recruit Dr Timothy Barnett will investigate skin health during his Fellowship, in particular he plans to identify the bacterial genes that are associated with disease frequency and severity, and that cause resistance to antibiotics.
“Aboriginal Australian children suffer the highest rates of impetigo, commonly known as skin sores, in the world.” Dr Barnett said. “Which can result in serious immune complications including chronic kidney and possibly rheumatic heart disease.”
“The outcomes of this Fellowship will hopefully contribute to better treatments for skin sores and result in a decrease in severe complications for these children.”
Telethon Kids Institute Director Professor Jonathan Carapetis said Dr Barnett was a highly respected molecular microbiologist who the Institute was extremely lucky to have join the team.
“Dr Barnett has dedicated his career, which has seen him work in the United States and Australia, to better understand the bacteria that cause skin sores,” Professor Carapetis said.
“He really is a critical part of the research puzzle we need in order to solve this problem and we are very pleased that this Fellowship funding has allowed us to attract him back home to Western Australia.”
Chief investigator and team leader for Tropical and Emerging Infectious Diseases at Menzies, Professor Bart Currie welcomed the appointments as the first step in achieving the goals of HOT NORTH.
“For those health professionals with a passion for clinical or laboratory sciences research, central and northern Australia is undoubtedly the most exciting and challenging part of Australia to work in,” Prof Currie said.
“The metro-centric nature of our academic and funding systems has for many years worked against us attracting and retaining a critical mass of clinicians and researchers to address all the challenges.”
“The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) have now provided us with the opportunity to turn this around and we are really excited to be able to support these five Fellows and their diverse projects.”
Another five Fellows will be appointed for each of the next three years.
The inaugural Career Fellows are:
Dr Matthew Grigg, Menzies School of Health Research Project title: Antimicrobial Resistance - Epidemiology and treatment of malaria in Sabah, Malaysia: longitudinal patterns of disease, acquisition risk factors, antimalarial drug resistance, and adjunctive therapy for acute kidney injury
Associate Professor Heidi Smith-Vaughan, Menzies School of Health Research Project title: Respiratory Health - Genomic Public Health in Australian Indigenous Communities and Developing Countries
Dr Karla Canuto, James Cook University Project title: Chronic Diseases - Torres Strait Healthy Young Women's Project
Dr Dagmar Meyer, James Cook University Project title: Vector Borne and Emerging Infectious Diseases - Can mosquito excreta be used to enhance detection of Australian vector-borne diseases?
Dr Timothy Barnett, Telethon Kids Institute Project title: Skin Health - Do Group A Streptococcus isolates causing skin infections in remote WA encode genes that correlate with disease severity, antibiotic resistance, or adverse immunological outcomes?
HOT NORTH is funded as part of the Australian Government’s Northern Australia Tropical Disease Collaborative Research Programme derived from policies outlined in the White Paper, Developing Northern Australia.
Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North: A Multidisciplinary Collaboration (HOT NORTH) participating institutions:
Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University
Telethon Kids Institute
James Cook University
The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital
Marie Bashir Institute, The University of Sydney
South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
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About Menzies School of Health Research: Menzies School of Health Research is one of Australia’s leading medical research institutes dedicated to improving Indigenous, global and tropical health. Menzies has a history of over 30 years of scientific discovery and public health achievement. Menzies works at the frontline, joining with partners across the Asia-Pacific as well as Indigenous communities across northern and central Australia. Menzies collaborates to create new knowledge, grow local skills and find enduring solutions to problems that matter.
About Telethon Kids Institute: The Telethon Kids Institute is one of the largest, and most successful medical research institutes in Australia, comprising a dedicated and diverse team of more than 500 staff and students.
We've created a bold blueprint that brings together community, researchers, practitioners, policy makers and funders, who share our vision to improve the health and wellbeing of children through excellence in research.
The Institute is headed by leading paediatrician and infectious diseases expert Professor Jonathan Carapetis, with Founding Director Professor Fiona Stanley now Patron.
Telethon Kids is independent and not-for-profit. The majority of funding comes from our success in winning national and international competitive research grants. We also receive significant philanthropic support from corporate Australia and the community.