Greg Pratt, Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research
Greg is an Aboriginal man and descendant of the Brown family of the Noonucal tribe of the Quandamooka people of Stradbroke Island. He is a family man, a husband and father to four (three boys and one girl). He spent much of his childhood years with the Ghughuyalanghi people of Cape York, growing up in the township of Laura. With the support of his community and his family, Greg undertook study at the University of Southern Queensland, where he later graduated with a degree in psychology.
With an interest in people, mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, Greg spent his post graduate years working in rural New South Wales as an Indigenous mental health practitioner.
Since then, Greg has worked in both community and government sectors, in policy development, service delivery and project management. Before commencing with the QIMR Berghofer in December 2012, Greg was with the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health in Cairns and the Health Quality and Complaints Commission in Brisbane. Greg is passionate about community empowerment, emphasising strength based approaches to change motivation and the ability of Indigenous Australia to lead the way with respect to better health and wellbeing.
Dr Simone Reynolds, Research Officer, Infectious Disease Program
Simone completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Griffith University) in 2006 before becoming a research assistant with the Scabies Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer. She obtained her PhD in 2013 (The University of Queensland) and was awarded an Australian NHMRC Early Career Fellowship, enabling her to continue her research at QIMR Berghofer as research officer with the Scabies Laboratory.
Dr Reynolds research focuses on a family of scabies mite proteins that interact with a component of the human immune system called complement. This is a front line defence mechanism that acts as a surveillance system that destroys pathogens and prepares other immune systems for attack. These scabies mite anti-complement proteins help the mites to evade host immunity and establish infection. Simone has also shown that these proteins help to promote the growth of bacteria commonly associated with scabies sores. These same bacteria have been implicated in the development of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease.
The overall aim is to find suitable targets for developing therapeutics for scabies that simultaneously reduces the occurrence of secondary infections. We believe this strategy has the potential to impact on rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease rates, which are globally the highest in Indigenous Australians.
Lindsay Christian, Research Assistant, Infectious Disease Program
Lindsay is in his final year of a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Biotechnology (Queensland University of Technology).
He has volunteered time to Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) program, mentoring Indigenous high school students and tutors first year Indigenous science students at QUT.
During the uni summer break between 2012 and 2013, he completed a Vacation Research Experience Scholarship with the Scabies Laboratory, where he gained experience studying the relationship between scabies mites and bacteria commonly involved in secondary infections in Indigenous communities.
Lindsay is currently completing an Indigenous Cadetship in the Scabies Laboratory and plans to undertake Masters (by research) to further study the secondary bacterial infections that lead to rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease.
Anastasia Higgins-Stewart, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Traineeship, Psychiatric Genetics Laboratory
Anastasia is an Aboriginal woman belonging to the Quandamooka people of Stradbroke Island from the Noonucal tribe. Currently in her second year of university at The University of Queensland, she is studying a dual degree in Bachelors of Business Management/Science. With an interest in the human mind and behaviours her major for science is psychology.
During the beginning of each semester Anastasia volunteers at The University of Queensland student mentoring programs. She enjoys helping guide new university students through the university experience and aspiring success in them.
Anastasia is a part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Traineeship Program at QIMR Berghofer. Mentored to success from her supervisors, Anastasia is focused on researching substance abuse. She has future plans to study medicine.