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NHMRC fellowship to help Professor tackle antimicrobial resistant infections

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6 July 2017

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Professor Anton Peleg, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Professor Anton Peleg, a Group Leader from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) and also the Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Alfred Hospital and Monash University, has received a highly competitive Practitioner Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Professor Peleg's NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship – the only one received in Victoria this year – will focus on ‘Novel Solutions to Antimicrobial Resistant Pathogens’.

“My research vision is to identify and develop strategies to significantly enhance prevention and treatment of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) infections, with the ultimate goal of reducing resistance burden and healthcare-associated infections worldwide,” Professor Peleg said.

Antimicrobial resistant pathogens represent one of the greatest threats to human health, with governments across the globe and major health organisations, including the World Health Organisation, devising immediate action plans to combat the problem.

It is estimated that 5 to 10 percent of all hospitalised patients develop a hospital-acquired infection, many of which are antibiotic resistant and likely preventable. This equates to millions of patients and a mortality of hundreds of thousands.

Professor Peleg’s research will focus on four key themes. These include: basic mechanistic studies of antimicrobial resistance to identify new drug targets; the development of a new therapeutic paradigm for highly resistant pathogens - anti-virulence strategies; translational studies on eliminating biofilm infections; and clinical studies to optimise patient outcomes from antibiotic resistant infections.

Professor Peleg says the synergy between his research vision and his role as the lead physician for antimicrobial resistant infections at The Alfred Hospital will be hugely beneficial for the Fellowship.

“Part of my role is to drive clinical services with departments caring for the highest risk patient populations, many of which provide a state-wide service and are the largest in the country (ICU, Burns, Cystic Fibrosis (CF), Lung Transplant, Haematology). This Fellowship will facilitate new clinical trials to be embedded in these clinical services,” he said.

This Fellowship comes at a crucial time for antimicrobial resistance research, as Australia’s first Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy was announced in 2015. Furthermore, AMR is a key national priority for the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), with a recent announcement that $5.9 million dollars will be disbursed specifically to tackle the problem of AMR and help implement the national action plan.

In collaboration with researchers and clinicians across Monash-affiliated hospitals, the university and research institutes, Professor Peleg will co-lead, with Professor Dena Lyras another Group Leader at the Monash BDI, a Research Centre for Hospital Infections (RCHI). The RCHI is a Monash-wide initiative to foster innovative research and develop novel solutions to the problem of antimicrobial resistance and hospital infections.