- 14 November 2019
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
THURSDAY 14 November 2019, 1.00 PM
Auditorium, Level 6, Bancroft Building
Translating Molecular Research into Clinical Applications to Control Scabies
Dr Katja Fischer
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Scabies is one of the most common infectious skin disorders worldwide, particularly among children and in tropical regions. In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of remote Northern Australia scabies prevalence is high and extreme rates of scabies-associated streptococcal and staphylococcal infections cause a significant public health burden. There is no scabies vaccine, only few broad-spectrum anti-parasitic drugs and no simple molecular diagnostic tools. To improve management and surveillance and to attempt to combat this highly contagious disease, basic scabies biomedical research will drive the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics. Central to realising this vision is an understanding of mite biology, scabies pathogenesis and the mechanisms underlying the three-way interactions of mites, bacteria and skin immunity. We collaborate with experts in genomics, bioinformatics, enzymology, dermatology and drug discovery, and have established long-term links with clinicians, Aboriginal health professionals, Aboriginal communities and industry partners to design and discover novel strategies that will reduce the scabies burden.
Dr Katja Fischer is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Group Leader of the Scabies Laboratory at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. She completed her undergraduate training as a molecular Parasitologist at the University of Freiburg, Germany, followed by a PhD in molecular biology of malaria parasites at the University of Würzburg, Germany, followed by post doc positions at QIMR Berghofer MRI. She became Laboratory Head in 2007 and Group Leader in 2013. Katja has worked for the past 18 years on scabies, a neglected, underrated but significant health burden worldwide, associated with overcrowding of people living in remoteness and poverty, including Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Her laboratory at the QIMR Berghofer MRI is one of very few groups worldwide providing crucial biomedical research to produce new options towards reducing scabies incidence and improving disease outcomes.