Monash Science PhD candidate wins Victorian Government International Education Award

Fernando Gordillo Altamirano.

Congratulations to Fernando Gordillo Altamirano, a PhD candidate in the School of Biological Sciences, who has won the Victorian International Education Award (VIE) for Student of the Year in the Research category.

The Awards are an initiative of the Victorian Government to support the international education sector and raise awareness of the sector’s benefits to the broader community.

Fernando completed his medical degree and commenced working as a general practitioner for a year in rural Ecuador. He then moved to Australia to study his Master’s degree in Infection and Immunity at the University of Sydney. His PhD project at Monash tackles one of the most threatening health crises the world is facing: antibiotic resistance.

Working in the Barr Lab, Fernando is looking at bacteriophage therapy as a treatment strategy against multi-drug-resistant bacterial pathogens such as Acinetobacter baumannii.

Commenting on the International Education Award Fernando acknowledged the vibrant, collaborative and supportive environment he found at Monash. “My PhD journey has been incredibly fulfilling, this award is just the reflection of all the work I was empowered to accomplish” he added.

Dr Jeremy Barr, who supervises Fernando said mentoring Fernando over the last three and a half years of his PhD had been both an honour and a delight.

“Fernando’s expertise as a medical doctor along with his unique background as an international researcher has greatly enhanced our lab and our research program,” Dr Barr said

Acinetobacter baumannii is a superbug responsible for up to 20% of infections in intensive care units. It attaches to medical devices such as ventilator tubes, and urinary and intravenous catheters. It causes devastating infections in the lungs, urinary tract, wounds and bloodstream.

Phage therapy has already been used in patients with life-threatening A. baumannii infections, with successful results. Dr Barr’s work highlights the possibility of using phages to rescue antibiotics, and to use them in combination.

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