Career Pathways

Our staff have diverse and interesting career pathways. They are able to develop their skills and expertise broaden their experience.

Dr Sarah Charnaud

Research Officer, Malaria Laboratory & Malaria Epidemiology Group Centre for Biomedical Research, Centre for Population Health

Sarah Charnaud works as a post-doctoral scientist in the Gilson/Crabb malaria laboratory, studying how malaria parasites thrive in their red blood cell hosts.

She started her science career in the UK, where she undertook a year-long internship in a pharmaceutical company as part of a bachelors in molecular and cellular biology, and then gained a research assistant position identifying new classes of anti-malarial drugs in the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

“It was through colleagues there that I heard about the great malaria research happening in Melbourne,” she says. “I contacted Professor Brendan Crabb about possible positions. After a year of correspondence, a role became available and I moved from the UK to join Brendan’s lab at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne.”

Soon after, Brendan became Director of Burnet Institute and Sarah moved across with him to Burnet’s newly created Gilson/Crabb laboratory. She applied for an international scholarship to undertake a PhD, and while waiting to convert her overseas BSc (Hons) to the equivalent in Australia she started studying for a Masters in Epidemiology via distance learning with LSHTM. She has so far completed a PGDip.
Sarah received permanent residency, and undertook a PhD at the lab. There were opportunities to learn techniques in other labs as a researcher exchange - one in the Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK, and another in Marburg, Germany, and to attend overseas conferences. Since completing her PhD she has remained in the lab following up new hypotheses and helping train new scientists in malaria research.

Amy Kirwan

Senior Research Officer/Outreach Manager, Centre for Population Health

Amy completed a B.A. (Hons) in philosophy and English, a Master of Social Science (Policy and Human Services) and a Master of Social Work, and joined Burnet seven and a half years ago after working in various community-based service providers and peak bodies.

“I had been working in policy advocacy and feeling disconnected from the communities on whose behalf I was conducting work,” she says. “I saw the position at Burnet as an opportunity to work more closely with people who inject drugs, and to build my skills in community engagement and technical research.”

She enjoys the variety of her work, which has taken place in different settings - prisons, drop-in spaces, clinics, in the street - and with different populations.

“The social justice aspect of the work is really rewarding, as is the opportunity to work with passionate people.

“I’ve stayed at Burnet due to opportunities for career progression and the uniqueness of the work that we do, as well as the high esteem in which I hold the staff who work here. It’s also been flexible and family friendly.”

Dr Paul Gilson

Co-head of the Gilson/Crabb laboratory and Head of Burnet Cell Imaging Facility, Centre for Biomedical Research

Paul shares management of a research laboratory with Professor Brendan Crabb, director of Burnet Institute, where they develop new drug treatments for malaria. “Drugs are currently the only means of curing people of malaria, but drug resistance is becoming a serious problem and new treatments need to be developed,” he says. “Our approach to fight malaria parasites is to try and get them enslaving the blood cells of the human host they infect.”

Paul did a PhD in biochemistry and genetics of protozoa at the University of Melbourne, and after a few years working on the biology of plants and mitochondria he began work at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in 2003, under the supervision of Brendon Crabb. “When Professor Crabb became director of Burnet Institute in 2008 and moved his research group here I was promoted to co-lab head,” he says. “We now have a team of five postdoctoral scientists and three students.”

“The Burnet provides a well resourced and highly stimulating environment in which to conduct our work. It has many state of the art facilities with which to perform cutting edge research, such as its microscopy platform.

“The fact there are several other malaria groups working at the Institute provides an intellectually beneficial atmosphere that enriches outcomes.”

In 2012, Dr Gilson won the Gust-McKenzie medal. The medal is presented to a mid-career Burnet Institute staff member in recognition of excellence in research and/or public health.

Contact Details

Anita Cranwell