2017 Year in Review: July to December

Burnet Institute

20 December, 2017

Image: Dr Clovis Palmer, Head, Palmer Laboratory


Burnet Institute HIV researcher Dr Clovis Palmer was selected as one of 10 early-stage investigators from around the globe to present at a special session of the 9th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science for ‘Emerging International Leaders in Global HIV/AIDS Research’.

Burnet research found that random drug testing of drivers in Australia was no deterrent to regular drug users. The study, published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, assessed the impact of experiences of more than 5000 illicit drug users, and recommended further intervention.

Researchers at Victoria University adapted a service developed by Burnet Institute to deliver tailored text messages to address risky drinking in young people. The pilot was based on Burnet’s ongoing Mobile Intervention for Drinking in Young People study.


Burnet modelling demonstrated that more than 2000 transmissions of HIV could be averted in Australia over the next three years through better prevention, testing and treatment programs. The modelling by Dr Nick Scott formed the basis of the Australian Federation of Aids Organisations HIV Blueprint to end HIV transmission.

Image: Burnet Institute Econometrician Dr Nick Scott

Burnet’s Global Health Diagnostics Laboratory won a prestigious Longitude Prize Discovery Award to aid development of a laboratory-based assay into a point-of-care test to diagnose sepsis.

Burnet research into the impact of HIV on immune cells revealed a link between the way immune cells use energy and ageing diseases in HIV-positive men. Published in the journal EBioMedicine, the research may improve health outcomes of people who are HIV-positive and at high risk of frailty and age-related diseases.


A landmark study into menstrual hygiene in the Pacific recommended strengthening education to challenge harmful beliefs around menstruation. The Last Taboo identified challenges faced by women and adolescent girls in Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Solomon Islands to manage their menstruation effectively.

Image: The Last Taboo research team

Burnet publicly endorsed marriage equality, in the lead up to the same-sex marriage survey which ultimately saw marriage laws changed in Australia. The Institute highlighted the evidence associated with the debate, and our understanding that equity drives better health.


Five Burnet Institute researchers including Professor Paul Dietze were awarded prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council Research Fellowships and Development Grants, announced by Federal Health Minister, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP.

Image: New NHMRC Research Fellow Professor Paul Dietze

Burnet Institute researchers were granted leading roles in a new NHMRC $2.5 million Centre for Research Excellence in Malaria Elimination. Burnet’s Head of Malaria Research Professor James Beeson and Deputy program Director for Maternal and Child Health, Associate Professor Freya Fowkes are among 10 Chief Investigators.


Burnet held its first Microbiome in Sexual, Maternal and Child Health Symposium, allowing researchers and experts to exchange knowledge on the new frontier of the human microbiome. Professor Jacques Ravel, University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA was the keynote speaker, supported by Burnet’s Head of Life Sciences, Professor Gilda Tachedjian.

Image: Professor Gilda Tachedjian with Microbiome Symposium keynote speaker Professor Jacques Ravel, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Burnet Institute’s Head of International Development Dr Chris Morgan was awarded the Institute’s prestigious 2017 Fenner Award for his contribution to international public health. A physician with special interests in health systems strengthening, primary health care, international child health, maternal and newborn care, Dr Morgan has worked at Burnet since 2001.

On World AIDS Day 2017, medical diagnostics company Omega Diagnostics announced with Burnet Institute the commercial release of its VISITECT® CD4 point-of-care test, which enables easier monitoring of CD4 T cell levels in HIV patients.


Development agency Oil Search Foundation and Burnet Institute entered into an enduring partnership to benefit PNG health, enabling delivery of targeted activities where most needed.

Image: Board members and CEOs at the signing in PNG. Mr Peter Botten CBE (OSF), Ms Alison Larsson (Burnet), Mr Gerea Aopi CBE (OSF), Ms Stephanie Copus-Campbell (OSF), Prof Brendan Crabb AC, Mr Leigh Jasper (Burnet), Mr Michael Ziegelaar (Burnet)

Also in December, Burnet Institute researchers were appointed by the World Health Organisation to lead development of a new global framework for the emergency preparedness of laboratories. The project aims to develop universal guidelines to safeguard laboratory operations in emergencies.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Brendan Crabb AC

Director and CEO; Co-Head Malaria Research Laboratory; Chair, Victorian Chapter of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI)




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