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Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases

Theme Leaders: Professor Richard Kitching, Group Leader, Department of Medicine, Monash Medical Centre; Professor Anton Peleg, Head, Infectious Diseases, The Alfred

Alfred Health, Monash University and Burnet Institute

This is a linked program of complementary services operating across the two hubs: the Hudson Institute of Medical Research and Monash Health services (MHTP), and the Burnet and Alfred Health services (AMREP). 

The Infectious Diseases component of this theme is focused on HIV, viral hepatitis, influenza, hospital-acquired infections, antimicrobial use and drug development, and infections in complex clinical settings. Our services benefit from the integration of departments across multiple sites and disciplines in clinical infectious diseases, epidemiology, microbiology and pharmacology.

Clinical care leaders include:

  • Professor J Hoy: Head of the statewide HIV, multi-disciplinary service. It is Australia’s largest infectious diseases clinical research unit, with more than 40 active clinical protocols
  • Dr J Elliott: National leader in chronic HIV disease care models, supported by multiple specialist clinics
    Professor M Hellard: Burnet the public health program leader
  • Professor W Sievert: (Hepatitis C acquisition, treatment of viral hepatitis and burden of hepatocellular carcinoma).
In addition, Associate Professors A Peleg and A Cheng have pioneered new models of antimicrobial stewardship in antibiotic resistance and hospital-acquired infections. 

The Inflammatory diseases component is led by the Centres for Inflammatory Diseases (CID) at Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP), and Respiratory Medicine (AIRMed) at the Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct (AMREP), along with the Department of Immunology at Monash University. The department focuses on complex chronic diseases, e.g. systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), glomerulonephritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) hepatic fibrosis, COPD and cystic fibrosis (CF).

The main clinical leaders are: 

  • Professor E Morand: leads Australia’s only multidisciplinary research-centred Monash Health SLE clinic and registry and the Asia-Pacific Lupus Collaboration
  • Professor AR Kitching: a founding member of the Centre for personalised immunology who leads the Vasculitis Clinic
  • Professor R O’Hehir: leads internationally recognised programs in novel immunotherapies for allergies and adults with cystic fibrosis.
The theme also includes two specialist transplant services.

The first is Alfred Health’s lung transplant program, which is world leading in clinical volume and outcomes and pioneered Donation after Circulatory Death, which now comprises 30% of the lung donor pool in Australia.

The second is the Monash Health Kidney transplantation unit. The unit reports five-year graft survival significantly higher than the national average - 90.5% vs. 82%. 

Integrated with the teams are world-class discovery researchers, who include:

  • Monash University biomedical scientists Prof J Rossjohn (Australia Fellow) who described the structural basis of T cell receptor antigen recognition in RA
  • Professor C Mackay ( HiCitei immunology) researching the relationship between gut microbiota and inflammatory disease
  • Professors P Hertzog and B Jenkins (Centre for Innate Immunity & Infectious Diseases, Hudson Institute of Medical Research) gene signatures and signalling targets in inflammatory conditions
  • Professor F Mackay, most highly cited immunologist in Australia in 2013 (Thomson Reuter) 
Examples of the clinical innovation achieved by the team: 

1. Donation of organs following cardiac rather than brain death leading to improved transplant outcomes and revised national guidelines

2. Enhanced uptake of hepatitis C treatment for people who inject drugs (PWID) (NIH-funded study at Alfred/Burnet)
3. Discoveries /development of a low-cost test for CD4 counts in HIV-infected patients, currently in clinical evaluation in Asia and Africa (Burnet). 

Future Goals:

  • Further integrate basic and clinical research through Monash Health Translation Precinct
  • Expand clinical trials integrated with advanced (gen)omics monitoring to improve clinical care
  • Expand Translational Research physician-scientist PhD programs.