Burnet a learning hub for vital research skills

Burnet Institute

25 March, 2019

Dr Evelyn Lavu (centre) with Burnet staff (L-R), Stephanie Franet, Dr Phil du Cros, Professor James Beeson, Dr Suman Majumdar, Stephanie Main and Sie Phung.

A respected Papua New Guinea (PNG) doctor has collaborated with Burnet Institute’s Tuberculosis Elimination and Implementation Science Group as she undertakes her PhD.

Director of the Central Public Health Laboratory at Port Moresby General Hospital, Dr Evelyn Lavu, has spent six weeks in Melbourne as she undertakes her PhD through the University of Papua New Guinea and other Australian partners.

A senior figure in the country’s TB research community, Dr Lavu is focusing her work on genetics, diagnostics and treatments of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) in Port Moresby and other parts of PNG.

“I have taken a PhD to learn research methods and skills from experienced people at Burnet, so I can pass that on to our young doctors, and show them the importance of research,” Dr Lavu said.

“I am doing this for myself, but also for our trainees and our country as a whole. I will pass this on and train registrars to do research properly.”

Dr Philipp du Cros with Dr Evelyn Lavu.

During her time in Melbourne, Dr Lavu has spent time improving data analysis, referencing using Endnotes skills, and literature search from the Alfred Library staff and facilities.

Dr Lavu’s work has focused on identifying the different strains of DR-TB in PNG, to assist with diagnosis and treatment options for patients.

“There are studies being done in Daru, Western Province, where there is a particular strain of DR-TB. Whether that strain is the same as the one in Port Moresby, we don’t know yet. This study will tell us,” she said.

Dr Lavu is Principal Investigator on a study with Burnet Institute examining new tools for rapid diagnosis of TB in remote parts of PNG.

“Accurate diagnosis is very important in patient care and treatment,” Dr Lavu said.

Burnet Infectious Diseases Specialist, Dr Philipp du Cros, said Dr Lavu’s contribution to the Tuberculosis Elimination and Implementation Science Group has been valuable.

“She is someone who has been doing research for a long time,” Dr du Cros said.

“She is a clinician, and a senior leader and mentor around the country. For her to now be able to do some of her own research in detail, and take her own skills in research to the next level is fantastic.

“She is already a very accomplished person, who is about to become even more accomplished.”

Dr Lavu said she was grateful for the support of staff at Burnet Institute.

“All of the people at Burnet have been really friendly and have made my stay in Melbourne more comfortable. It really makes a difference,“ she said.

“I am looking forward to taking all of this work back, and educating people on making sure that TB and DR-TB are diagnosed and treated adequately in Papua New Guinea for TB control.”

Dr Lavu was sponsored by the Bio-Venture Global Health (BVGH) and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for this sabbatical.

Contact Details

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

Doctor Philipp du Cros

Infectious Diseases Specialist, TB Elimination and Implementation Science


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