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Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death - especially if not managed promptly. According to the World Health Organisation, sepsis is the cause of death in 1 in 5 people worldwide. Burnet is actively involved in sepsis research, with our efforts spearheaded in developing a point-of-care test for neonatal sepsis in a simple lateral flow test format.

Our main objectives are to:

  • develop a low-cost rapid point-of-care test to support clinicians in the early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis that can also be used for neonatal sepsis 
  • address the major causes of neonatal sepsis. This condition occurs when a newborn baby has a bacterial bloodstream infection (BSI) (such as meningitis, pneumonia, pyelonephritis, or gastroenteritis) in the setting of fever
  • improve sepsis management.

Our public health and life science streams work together on a broad range of life-saving on a broad range of sepsis projects, research, diagnostic development, and other initiatives.

Burnet is playing an important and growing role, not only in Australia and regionally but globally, in making a significant contribution to life-saving testing and treatment for sepsis.

20 mins

is the time that Burnet researchers hope it will take to diagnose neonatal sepsis using the rapid point-of-care test they are developing. The current method to test for sepsis can take up to five days to deliver a result.


boxes of umbilical cord chlorhexidine (Umbipro) purchased and supplied to the East New Britain Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG by our team working in conjunction with the manufacturer GSK. 

Chlorhexidine has been shown to be effective in helping to prevent neonatal sepsis in low-income countries such as PNG, where a high proportion of births occur at home with the use of unsterilised instruments.


of Australian neonates had microbiologically confirmed infection, according to research supported by Burnet aimed at evaluating quality and variation in antibiotic prescribing for neonatal sepsis.


intensive care unit admissions were examined as part of Burnet-supported research, which found a strong association between acetyl salicylic acid and survival in intensive care unit systemic inflammatory response syndrome and sepsis patients. 

Working Groups

Burnet is an Australian-based medical research and public health institute and international non-government organisation that is working towards a more equitable world through better health.