The University of Melbourne has extensive expertise in the field of medical countermeasures. The Melbourne Biomedical Precinct is a leading global research and teaching powerhouse, and one of the top-five biomedical precincts in the world.
It includes the operation of a high containment laboratory and clinical facilities as part of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. Precinct partners also share a formidable history of relevant ground-breaking medical discoveries and developments.
The leading edge in detection and rapid response
Crucial aspects of dealing with biological pathogens or chemical weapons are detection and rapid response. National health authorities must have ready access to the medical countermeasure products needed to deal with a host of dangerous pathogens and agents when they become active, whether as a result of natural causes or malicious intent.
Detection and response via machine learning
Detection research includes applying data mining and machine learning technologies to develop systems that can identify and track the onset of diseases that may result from contact with biological agents or chemical contaminants, but which might not become evident for days or even weeks.
Our capabilities include:
- Public health preparedness and emergency response
- Basic research to product development
- Epidemiology for disease surveillance and management
- Clinical research addressing international health issues
- Vaccines, drug discovery, drug delivery and diagnostics
- Environmental modelling and monitoring
- Synthetic and systems biology.
The university has successfully developed:
- Treatment strategies for several tropical diseases including malaria
- 35 clinical trials for viral infections – including HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and cytomegalovirus
- Polymer-based drug for antimicrobial-resistant pathogens.
Case study: EpiFx and EpiDefend
This ground-breaking program led by Professor James McCaw develops mathematical and computational models of the spread of infectious diseases through a population and the impact of pharmaceutical countermeasures, such as vaccines and antiviral drugs.
These models are combined with advanced computational statistical algorithms to provide situational awareness and give real-time predictions on the spread of infection of natural or bioterror-related pathogens.
The results are applied in scenario analyses to develop policy recommendations on optimal use of available resources at a national scale - and help design future vaccine responses.
“Analysis of that data shows us how quickly a virus is spreading and points us to initiating an appropriate and proportionate response.”
- Professor James McCaw, University of Melbourne