Image: Infectious Disease Specialist and 2018 RACP International Medalist Dr Philipp du Cros
Burnet Institute Infectious Disease Specialist Dr Philipp du Cros has been acknowledged for his excellence in tuberculosis (TB) research and clinical service with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians' RACP International Medal for 2018.
The RACP Medal recognises a member who has provided outstanding service in developing countries, in particular, for people in crisis.
The winner must have made a significant and sustained contribution to clinical service; played a leading role in promotion, collaboration and advocacy; and demonstrated a proven commitment to mentoring, education and training.
Dr du Cros was nominated primarily for his work to implement multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) programs for independent medical humanitarian organisation Medécins sans Frontières (MSF) in Africa, Former Soviet Union and Asia over more than 10 years.
The award also recognises his former role as head of MSF’s UK-based team of medical specialists the Manson Unit, his mentoring of staff for outbreak response, development of a diploma course in tropical medicine and hygiene, and work to facilitate operational research.
Dr du Cros said he hopes the RACP Medal can help to bring TB research into the spotlight.
“It’s still a neglected area, and we have a long way to go in TB,” he said.
“It’s the main single infectious diseases killer globally, and if we want to start thinking about TB elimination and actually reducing rates much more quickly we need innovation, we need to speed that up.
“I hope that this will bring attention to the need to do more trials, but also to combine the research with improving things in the programs and for patients at the same time.
“That’s something that I’m a strong believer in, how implementation of programs and research can go hand in hand and lead to improvements for patients and programs in the short and longer term.”
Dr du Cros, who commenced at Burnet Institute in October 2017, said he was excited to join the TB Elimination and Implementation Science Working Group and focus on the Asia-Pacific Region, in particular countries with large TB epidemics such as Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
He will strengthen the team’s technical and research capacity to translate evidence into better outcomes for communities affected by TB, strengthen health systems and ultimately, reduce TB transmission to bend the epidemic curve.
“We’ve made some progress around trials, around new drug treatments for drug-resistant TB, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do around how to prevent MDR-TB in people who come into contact with someone who’s infectious,” he said.
“There are opportunities to introduce new evidence into programs, and taking a more holistic approach by adding good prevention into programs is also a game-changer and something we’re starting to do at Burnet and looking forward to seeing the results.
Dr du Cros was presented with the RACP Medal at a function in Sydney ahead of the RACP 2018 Congress.
Previous winners of the Medal, which was established in 2015, are Professor David Brewster (2016), a clinician in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine; and tropical and public health specialist, Professor Maxine Whittaker (2017).