Image: Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr Philipp du Cros
With more than 15 years of clinical and public health experience including a decade in tuberculosis (TB) program management, Dr Philipp du Cros is excited by his new appointment to Burnet’s TB Elimination and Implementation Science working group.
An Infectious Diseases Specialist, Dr du Cros expects to build on his most recent role with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to implement drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) programs in difficult contexts, while devoting more time and energy to research.
“We’ve got these new tools but we don’t know how best to use them, so there’s a need for more research,” Dr du Cros said.
“But the research needs to be linked with programs and what’s actually happening in the field, so the evidence generated is really relevant to the context that we’re in.
“That’s my interest, around implementation research; how do you get the evidence to use new things in the best way.”
Dr du Cros has worked on DR-TB programs around the globe from Myanmar to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Uganda, but has yet to work in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where Burnet’s RID-TB program has been operating since 2014 to reduce the impact of DR-TB.
“Papua New Guinea will be a challenge, I’ve not worked there before,” Dr du Cros said.
“The risk is that you assume you know what’s required, but the context, culture and the TB strains and resistance characteristics are different from what I’ve been dealing with, so that will be interesting to see.”
As for the bigger picture, Dr du Cros said it’s becoming more widely accepted that new tools are required to arrest the epidemic, and it’s a positive sign that TB is attracting more attention generally internationally.
“There’s new developments in terms of diagnostics and new drugs, and we’ve taken a big step with the (shorter) nine-month regimen for patients with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB),” Dr du Cros said.
“On the other hand the global success rates are less than 60 percent for MDR-TB, so it’s a bit hard to do worse than we’re already doing globally.
“In that sense, it’s almost like A Tale of Two Cities, it’s the best of times, and it’s the worst of times.”
Burnet Senior Principal Research Fellow and co-head of the TB Eliminations and Implementation Science working group, Professor Steve Graham said Dr du Cros would have a key role to play in strengthening Burnet’s engagement in TB control activities.
“Phil Du Cros is internationally recognised for his clinical, programmatic and research experience in TB, particularly in MDR/XDR-TB and TB/HIV, which has included leading research and providing training in a wide range of TB endemic settings,” Professor Graham said.
“His wide range of experience and expertise, including in the implementation of innovative solutions, will strengthen the work of the Burnet Institute in TB and MDR-TB care and prevention in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Find out more about Burnet’s RID-TB project in Daru, Western Province, PNG.