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Intensive look at Infectious Diseases

June 2011

Infectious diseases that can be found in hospital intensive care units will be the focus of a new Centre of Research Excellence, launched today by the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon. Mark Butler.

Professor Ben Freedman, A/Professor Jon Iredell, Hon Mark Butler MP, Professor Tony Cunningham AO
Professor Ben Freedman, A/Professor Jon Iredell. the Hon Mark Butler MP and
Professor Tony Cunningham AO at the official launch
.

Medical researchers at the Westmead Millennium Institute were awarded a $2.5m National Health and Medical Research Council grant to establish a Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Critical Infectious Diseases at Westmead.

The internationally recognised team, led by the University of Sydney’s Associate Professor Jon Iredell, has a distinguished track record for its pioneering work in infectious diseases.

Professor Cheryl Jones, CRE Chief Investigator (CMRI, WCH), Dr Jen Kok CRE Research Fellow, A/Professor Jon Iredell CRE Chief Investigator (WMI, USyd), Dr Vineet Nayyar, Senior Staff Specialist Westmead ICU, Dr Ian Seppelt, Senior Staff Specialist Nepean ICU and ANZIS Clinical Trials Network, Dr Martin Cullen, Staff Specialist Westmead ICU, Dr Vitali Sintchenko, Senior Research Fellow and Staff Specialist CIDM (CRE Principal Investigator)
The Centre for Research Excellence in Critical Infectious Diseases team -
Professor Cheryl Jones, CRE Chief Investigator (CMRI, WCH), Dr Jen Kok CRE Research Fellow, A/Professor Jon Iredell CRE Chief Investigator (WMI, USyd), Dr Vineet Nayyar, Senior Staff Specialist Westmead ICU, Dr Ian Seppelt, Senior Staff Specialist Nepean ICU and ANZIS Clinical Trials Network, Dr Martin Cullen, Staff Specialist Westmead ICU, Dr Vitali Sintchenko, Senior Research Fellow and Staff Specialist CIDM (CRE Principal Investigator)

Associate Professor Jon Iredell says the team will investigate life threatening infections such as septic shock, severe pneumonia and encephalitis. The group will also study the ecology of major infections, including antibiotic resistance infections and the ethical and legal issues associated with diseases affecting the most seriously ill.

“The critically ill are the most vulnerable people in our health system and their care is highly resource intensive.”

‘Most admissions to intensive care units are precipitated or complicated by infection, which is the commonest cause of preventable mortality and adds billions of dollars to the annual cost of health care.”

“What is important now is discovering which patients admitted to intensive care units are at highest risk and delivering this critical information early.”

“Our aim is to help Intensive care specialists in making decisions by developing rapid diagnostic tests and assist in improved infection management and control strategies that can bring benefits to both the patients and the hospital system,” says Iredell.

The five year project is based primarily at the Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital, and linked to networks of researchers in Intensive Care and Infectious Diseases around Australia. 

The Hon Mark Butler MP, A/Professor Jon Iredell and Dr Jen Kok
A/Professor Jon Iredell and Dr Jen Kok show the Hon Mark Butler MP the latest technology.

Researchers will work closely with the new Sydney Emerging Infections and Biosecurity Institute, which is focused on improved detection and management of infectious diseases in Australia and South East Asia.

“This project will improve health outcomes for critically ill people,” said the Dean of Sydney Medical School, Professor Bruce Robinson.

“Within the University of Sydney, Westmead Millennium Institute and Westmead Hospital, we have a brilliant team of researchers and clinicians working in the area of critical infectious diseases. The work Professor Iredell and others do through this project will lead directly to better health care systems, better patient safety and better management of these critical infections.”