Infectious Disease, Immunity & Inflammation

Our vision - A world where human health is enriched by controlling infection, enhancing immunity and managing inflammation.

The UNSW Medicine Infectious Disease, Immunity and Inflammation (Triple I) research theme includes internationally prominent researchers, policymakers, educators and clinicians. Together, they lead the understanding, prevention and treatment of complex infections and conditions.

Our researchers make significant global contributions through involvement in broad-reaching multidisciplinary and multinational collaborations. This research theme incorporates four health networks and more than 30 health, education and research sites across NSW. Our strong regional focus drives collaborations across South-East Asia and our established global research networks span five continents.

Many of our colleagues across our clinical schools are leading the frontline against COVID-19. We have infectious disease physicians seeing patients in our public hospitals. Nationally and internationally, we have public health researchers leading biosecurity efforts against the virus and locally, seconded to NSW Health to undertake contact tracing of cases. The virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 is being grown on campus in a new PC3 lab and we’re working with industry partners to trial potential antiviral medications. We are leading and participating in NSW, national and international collaborative partnerships contributing to global COVID-19 research initiatives.

Objective

The objective of the Triple I research theme is to:

  • Build world-class collaborative research networks to improve diseases driven by infection, immunity and inflammation
  • Build capacity to develop evidence-based interventions
  • Translate research into clinical practice and policy
  • Share knowledge to enhance clinical care and community understanding

We study every aspect of infectious diseases, from fundamental biology and pathology through to epidemiological studies, economic and population health. We seek to understand the way our bodies fight infection and other diseases. We investigate antimicrobials, immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory agents in the laboratory, and through to clinical trials.

Solution

Our focus is on multidisciplinary, team-driven, outcomes-based, laboratory and translational research. We have a proven history of rapidly and efficiently translating robust, generalisable research data into clinical and policy improvements that directly benefit health.

When we collaborate across institutions, hospitals, universities and healthcare settings, we expand our ideas. We access more expertise, different viewpoints and a far greater percentage of the population than exists within one institution. We’re less restricted in terms of budget, scope and reach. Our research is transforming the way health systems function.

We have made substantial contributions that have revolutionised the treatment of HIV, which is now a chronic, manageable disease. We continue to work for equity of access to hepatitis C therapeutics for affected people in all countries. We also work towards the prevention of morbidities of chronic infections, such as hepatitis B and human papillomavirus helicobacter pylori.

Our efforts are focused on the response and control of emerging infectious diseases, and health security, as well as responding to the neglected tropical diseases that are endemic in many of our regional communities. We’re making considerable headway in autoimmune disease and other primary immunodeficiencies and allergies across the lifespan.

We use state-of-the-art laboratory, genetic and bioinformatic techniques to understand a range of diseases. This includes liver and gastrointestinal disease, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and other respiratory infections.

Many of our researchers are also clinicians who work in health services and hospitals. Our research is conducted in renowned centres and institutes. These connections provide access to highly sophisticated equipment increasing our capabilities in:

  • Whole genome sequencing (including single cells)
  • High-throughput chemical small-molecule screening
  • Advanced imaging
  • Global clinical trial networks
  • Statistical, health economic and big data support

Impact

The Infectious Disease, Immunity and Inflammation (Triple I) research theme has made substantive, internationally-recognised research contributions to the evidence base that has led to revolutions in:

  • HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) treatment 
  • the prevention of morbidities of chronic infections such as hepatitis B (HBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • the diagnosis, genetics and treatment of primary immunodeficiencies
  • understanding the immunological basis of autoimmune disease
  • the diagnosis and treatment of antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS)
  • the treatment and prevention of childhood and adult allergies

We play a key role in providing the evidence base for the adoption of international best practice. We have an active role in determining national and international guidelines developed the World Health Organisation and other major agencies.