Burnet staff finalists at Research Australia Awards

Burnet Institute

12 August, 2019

Image: Dr Berhan Ayele Haile demonstrates the VL-Plasma diagnostic device

Two Burnet Institute researchers have been nominated among Australia’s best, after being announced as finalists in the 2019 Research Australia Health and Medical Research Awards.

In Summary:

  • Dr Berhan Ayele Haile developed a plasma separator device to improve blood testing for HIV viral load in resource-limited settings
  • Professor David Wilson’s Optima modelling has allowed policy outcomes to be better informed by accurate and relevant data

Burnet’s Dr Berhan Ayele Haile and Professor David Wilson are among 18 finalists in five categories open to Australian medical researchers.

Dr Haile’s nomination, for the Griffith University Discovery Award, described his development of a plasma separator device to improve the accuracy of blood testing in resource-limited settings.

Burnet Co-Head, Global Health Diagnostics Laboratory, Associate Professor David Anderson, said the device allows more people to access reliable diagnostic testing for infectious diseases and other conditions.

“There are many tests that still require the resources of a central laboratory. Dr Haile’s work has led to a simple product that allows a blood sample to be separated into its different constituent parts for shipping by regular post, and later analysis at these laboratories,” Associate Professor Anderson said.

“We have already shown that this can solve a major problem in management of HIV patients in monitoring of viral load.”

Professor David Wilson Optima Modelling
Image: Professor David Wilson

Professor Wilson’s nomination for the Data Innovation Award came as a result of his creation of the Optima suite of tools for modelling and data science.

The tools, linked to real-world policy decisions and operational plans, have improved policy and programmatic decision-making to better target public health responses and strengthen health systems.

Burnet Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said Professor Wilson and his team’s work provides evidence on where to direct resources in order to make the most impact for public health.

“As sophisticated as it is, the final product of David’s work are easy to use tools that help health authorities in resource poor settings spend money more effectively,” Professor Crabb said.

A number of examples of positive impact have resulted from implementing Professor Wilson’s recommendations of his analyses, such as evidence showing return on investment of needle-syringe programs in over 20 countries.

Brendan Crabb quote

Winners for the 2019 Research Australia Health and Medical Research Awards will be announced on 14 November.

Research Australia Awards

Contact Details

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

Doctor Berhan Ayele Haile

Research Officer


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