Tell us about what you do at QIMR Berghofer.
I’m the Clinical Operations Manager for the Clinical Malaria Group. For clinical trials I act as a project manager. For us, the clinical trial is usually evaluating a new anti-malarial drug in healthy volunteers that we’ve infected with malaria to see if that new drug cures people of malaria.
What inspired you to choose medical research as your career?
I hope to play a role in the eradication of malaria. Malaria is still one of the biggest killers in the world and most of the time that’s children under five. In my mind, it’s just unacceptable that we allow half a million children to die every year from malaria. The work that we produce here is having a really big impact.
What is one of the most exciting projects you are working on right now?
The most exciting is a project investigating a drug to boost our immune system to fight malaria.
What is unique about what we have here at QIMR Berghofer is that we have a really well characterised, defined induced blood stage malaria model. Nowhere else in the world has such a well-defined model.
It’s essential that these trials are conducted here in a controlled manner so we get controlled data from people who haven’t had malaria before, and then we can translate it to the field. Our trials are critical. They’re essential to ensure that we meet the goal of eradicating malaria by 2030 when it is such a preventable disease and such a curable disease.
What could be achieved in your field of research with additional funding support and time?
We could run more clinical trials to evaluate more antimalarial drugs and to further understand our immune system’s response to malaria infection.
What is one of your big predictions for your field in the next 10 years?
That there will be drugs available to boost our immune system to help malaria vaccines work better and to help with the antimalarial drugs given to prevent malaria infection.