Dr Jinxin Zhao finalist for the Premier’s Award for Health and Medical Research

L-R: Mr Ke Chen, Dr Jinxin Zhao and Ms Hasini Surnirma Wickremasinghe

A Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute researcher has been named a finalist in the 2022 Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research.

Established in 1995 by the Victorian Government in partnership with the Australian Society for Medical Research, the awards recognise the exceptional contributions of Victoria’s mid and early-career health and medical researchers. Dr Jinxin Zhao (Jian Li Lab), a finalist in the Basic Science Researcher category, is one of 14 finalists across five categories for 2022.

Dr Zhao’s research addresses antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is an imminent threat to both global health and the economy.

Amongst the deadly pathogens that can be resistant to all major classes of available antibiotics, multidrug-resistant (MDR) A. baumannii is ranked among the top three ‘Critical’ ‘superbugs’ on the World Health Organization Priority Pathogen List, urgently requiring new antibiotics.

MDR A. baumannii has a high propensity to cause severe pneumonia which has also been a cause of exacerbated symptoms and death in COVID-19 patients during the pandemic. More worryingly, it can develop resistance to all classes of antibiotics. To counteract the capacity of these deadly ‘superbugs’ to cause deadly infections, rendering available treatments ineffective and overwhelming the healthcare system, new treatment strategies are desperately needed.

Synergistic combinations of polymyxins have been proposed as a promising strategy to improve the clinical efficacy against MDR A. baumannii. However, the dosage regimens employed for polymyxin-based combinations in the clinic are mostly empirical and have not been optimised due to a lack of understanding of the mechanisms underpinning synergistic antibacterial killing.

Dr Zhao’s research aims to change this.

He has employed an integrated systems pharmacology approach to better understand the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in MDR A. baumannii and synergistic killing of life-saving polymyxin-based combinations. His work has provided critical pharmacological information to optimise dosage regimens of polymyxin combinations in patients.

“The overall aim of my research is to find an effective approach to safeguard the currently available antibiotics into the future.” Dr Zhao said.

“Outcomes from my research to date have included development of an effective polymyxin-based antibiotic combination, and proposing optimal dosage regimens to clinicians.

“With a correctly titrated dose of antibiotics, we can minimise the development of antimicrobial resistance in the clinic. Not only this, but giving optimal doses could also improve the quality of life and life expectancy of patients.

“Ultimately, this line of research will provide a novel strategy to other researchers to work out effective therapeutic options.” Dr Zhao said.

Read more about the Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research on the Department’s website.

Video: Dr Jinxin Zhao, Finalist for 2022 Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research, Basic Science Researcher category.

View transcript

Monash Media

E: media@monash.edu
T: +61 (0) 3 9903 4840

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute
Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Spanning seven discovery programs across Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Development and Stem Cells, Infection, Immunity, Metabolism, Diabetes and Obesity, and Neuroscience, Monash BDI is one of the largest biomedical research institutes in Australia. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery