Biomedical Sciences experts

Murdoch University’s biomedical scientists are research and development professionals highly skilled in the health sciences, particularly the molecular basis of disease.

Murdoch’s biomedical scientists undertake research into cancer, viral diseases such as HIV-AIDS and parasite control of problems such as tapeworm.

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Peter Irwin

Professor Peter Irwin

Companion animal medicine; infectious and parasitic diseases of dogs and cats

 Professor Irwin is a registered specialist in medicine of dogs and a consultant at Murdoch University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. His area of clinical expertise is in the diagnosis of medical disorders of dogs and cats, particularly endocrine and neurological conditions.

Professor Irwin is also an internationally-recognised expert in the infectious and parasitic diseases of dogs and cats, notably vector-borne infections and tropical diseases of companion animals.

He is a founding member of the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases, a member of the Canine Vector-Borne Disease World Forum, and was awarded the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award by the Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association in 2005.

Charlotte Oskam

Dr Charlotte Oskam

Tick-borne diseases, next generation sequencing, bacterial microbiome, ancient DNA

Dr Charlotte Oskam is a lecturer and early career researcher in the Vector and Waterborne Pathogen Research Group. Her research focus is on ticks and tick-borne diseases in Australia. She is using next generation sequencing techniques to identify and characterise bacterial communities (including pathogens) within ticks.
Dr Oskam is also using her ancient DNA background to identify the presence, emergence and evolutionary history of tick-borne pathogens within Australian ticks archived in national museum collections. This research is providing insight into tick-borne diseases in Australia.
Dr Oskam was awarded the 2015 Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Research Award for Early Career Development and Achievement in Science.
Garth Maker

Dr Garth Maker

Metabolomics and mass spectrometry, profiling biological samples

Dr Garth Maker’s primary area of research is the clinical applications of metabolomics and mass spectrometry. These technologies allow new ways to diagnose, monitor and treat disease. Dr Maker has specifically focused on developing the tools to determine the metabolite profile of a range of different biological samples, including blood, urine and tissue.

Dr Maker is part of both the Separation Science and Metabolomics Laboratory at Murdoch and the national research network Metabolomics Australia.
His research is applied to a very broad range of projects across all areas of life science including agriculture, animal health, cancer, chronic disease, drug abuse, drugs in sport, food safety, environmental health and microbiology.

Phil Stumbles

Dr Phil Stumbles

Respiratory allergy and infections, early-life origins of disease, dendritic cells in adaptive immunity and tolerance

Dr Phil Stumbles is a senior lecturer in pathology in the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences and an honorary senior research fellow at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research. His research is focused on the role of dendritic cells and T cells in the pathogenesis of immune-mediated disorders of the respiratory tract such as allergic asthma, and in protection against respiratory viral infections such as influenza.

Dr Stumbles has interests in the new intervention strategies for restoring immune tolerance as an approach to preventing or treating respiratory allergic disorders. In collaboration with co-investigators in at the University of Bern in Switzerland, he is investigating in the use of nanoparticle-based approaches for the delivery of new immune therapies and vaccines to the lungs.

He is also a founding chief investigator on the Peel Child Health Study, a multi-centre study linked with the University of Western Australia, Curtin University and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research designed to investigate the impact of maternal stress on the early-life origins of disease.
Sarah Etherington

Dr Sarah Etherington

Neuroscience; function of the visual cortex

Dr Sarah Etherington’s research is broadly concerned with unravelling the function of the brain and spinal cord.

Her primary research focus is the function of the visual cortex - the area of the brain responsible for vision - during infancy. This collaboration with researchers at the University of Queensland uses sophisticated techniques to map changes in information flow through the brain as it matures. This work has implications for some of the most devastating and mysterious diseases of the developing human brain, including schizophrenia and autism.

As a Lecturer in Physiology in the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Dr Etherington is also involved in collaborative projects looking at how the nervous system develops in Australian marsupials.

Andrew Currie

Dr Andrew Currie

Newborn immunity, vaccine trials, cancer immune therapies

Dr Andrew Currie investigates how an immune system develops and defends a person during the first few years of life. He is researching why infants and children, particularly those born prematurely, are more prone to infection. He is part of an international team running a world first clinical study on innate immune function in pre-term infants (the PREDICT study).

Dr Currie is also examining how vaccines work in collaboration with research at Princess Margaret Hospital and works with a team at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital to test new immune therapies for cancers such as mesothelioma.

Eddy Poinern

Dr Gerrard Eddy Jai Poinern

Applied nanotechnology and bionanotechology

An applied nanotechnology and bionanotech expert, Dr Gerrard Eddy Jai Poinern leads the development of a nanomembrane for the repair of skin burns, and has pioneered the manufacture of "nano-bone by wet synthesis" methods.

Dr Poinern is part of the strategic India-Australian scientific collaboration for arsenic removal in contaminated water, the nanotechnology chair and foundation director of the Murdoch Applied Nanotechnology Research Group, MANRG, and also designed the WA State NanoCarbon Manufacturing facility for the WA Nanochemistry Research Institute.

Simon Mallal

Professor Simon Mallal

HIV, AIDS, Clinical Immunology, Infectious Diseases, vaccine design

Professor Simon Mallal is Director of the Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Murdoch University and a Clinical Immunologist and Immunopathologist at Royal Perth Hospital.

He has had a longstanding research interest in the Major Histocompatibility Complex and genetic influences on clinical outcomes in HIV and other diseases. More recently he has focussed on viral adaptation to HLA-restricted immune responses and the implications of this for HIV vaccine immunogen design.

His research group also study the genetics and pathogenesis of hypersensitivity to abacavir and nevirapine and the long-term complications of anti-retroviral therapy with a particular focus on mitochondrial toxicity and subcutaneous fat wasting.

Cassandra Berry

Professor Cassandra Berry

Virus vaccines, flu virus

Professor Berry's research interests include the improvement viral vaccines for influenza. In particular she focuses on understanding the natural proteins of the human immune system, the interferons, which can help us make antibodies to protect against viruses. The use of interferons in vaccines is of great interest in order to design a universal vaccine inducing broadly neutralising antibodies to protect against different flu viruses.

Mandy O'Hara

Associate Professor Dr Mandy O’Hara

Anatomic and veterinary pathology diagnosis and trials

A senior lecturer in pathology, Dr Mandy O’Hara provides a diagnostic anatomic and veterinary pathology service to government, veterinarians and scientists.

She conducts clinical and research-based trials, and works on criminal investigations and insurance cases.

Dr O'Hara uses animal models of human disease to evaluate gene therapy, parasiticidal agents and antineoplastic drugs. She has also collaborated on projects including investigating a papillomatosis and carcinomatosis syndrome in marsupial bandicoots.
Andrew Thompson

Professor Andrew Thompson

Parasitology; biology, taxonomy and lifecycles of parasite zoonoses

Professor Andrew Thompson has led research to develop drugs against neglected diseases in Africa and South America such as sleeping sickness and Chagas disease.

He has worked on new World Health Organisation research to estimate the global burden of foodborne disease, and made major contributions to the understanding of the biology, taxonomy and lifecycles of Echinococcus, Giardia, Cryptosporidium and other parasite zoonoses.

A recent past president of the Australian Society for Parasitology, Professor Thompson heads Murdoch’s internationally renowned parasitology section in the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.

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