Infectious disease advocacy a challenge

Angus Morgan

26 August, 2015

IMAGE: Professor Alan Landay, Rush University Medical Centre, presents 'HIV and microbiome: Lessons learned for therapeutic approaches' to the Infectious Diseases Research Symposium

Advocacy for research into infectious diseases is becoming more onerous and challenging in light of changing community perceptions, according to Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC.

“Infectious diseases remain major reasons the world, and especially kids in the developing world, suffer poor health,” Professor Crabb told the 2015 Burnet Institute Research Symposium at the AMREP Lecture Theatre.

“HIV, hepatitis, TB, malaria and drug resistant bacteria remain major impacts of today and huge potential threats of tomorrow.

IMAGE: Associate Professor David Anderson

“Just because you get one down, it can make a big impact, as has happened in the last 10 years with malaria.

“And yet as soon as the handbrake of control comes off or is reduced even a bit, those infectious diseases, unless they’ve been wiped out from the face of the earth, come back very, very quickly.

“And, in the case of malaria, come back worse than before.

“The reality is infectious disease is still very, very important even though the perception in our own community where the largest funding comes from, in the western world, is that they are a lower priority than they once were.”

IMAGE: Professor Steve Graham and Dr Suman Majumdar at the Infectious Diseases Symposium

Professor Crabb said the Symposium was a reminder of the importance of research and an opportunity for leaders in their fields to showcase their work.

The program comprised four sessions around different themes – ‘Strategies for the prevention of disease’, ‘Translation into the clinic and community’, ‘The pathway to curing disease’, and ‘Overcoming resistance’.

Speakers included Associate Professor David Anderson on Point of care testing for resource-limited settings, Associate Professor Gilda Tachedjian: Discovering new inhibitors for HIV treatment and prevention, and Dr Andy Poumbourios: Vaccines for variable pathogens: Obstacles and advances.

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Angus Morgan

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