Territory Stories

Annual report 2008, Menzies School of Health Research



Annual report 2008, Menzies School of Health Research

Other title

Menzies School of Health Research annual report 2008; 2008 Menzies School of Health annual report


Menzies School of Health Research


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT; Menzies School of Health Research annual report; Annual Report






Through scientifi c excellence, education and research the team at Menzies is discovering ways to reduce the impact of disease and improve the health and well-being of people living in Australia and beyond. -- page 4


Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).; Charles Darwin University; Discovery for a healthy tomorrow

Table of contents

Who we are and what we do page 4 -- Where and how we work page 5 -- Menzies Strategic Plan page 6 -- Vision page 7 -- Values page 7 -- Goals page 7 -- The Year at a Glance page 8 -- Financial and Corporate Overview page 12 -- A Message from the Chair page 14 -- A Message from the Director page 16 -- A Message from the Indigenous Development Unit page 18 -- Child Health Division page 21 -- Healing and Resilience Division page 27 -- International Health Division page 33 -- Preventable Chronic Diseases Division page 39 -- Services, Systems and Society Division Page 45 -- Tropical and Emerging Infectious Diseases Division page 51 -- Education and Training Division page 57 -- Corporate Services Division page 63 -- Menzies and the Community page 71 -- Governance page 72 -- Honorary Appointees page 75 -- Research Funding page 76 -- Publications page 84 -- Professional Activities page 92 -- Collaborators page 96 -- page 3




Menzies School of Health Research; Medicine; Research; Annual report

Publisher name

Menzies School of Health Research

Place of publication



Menzies School of Health Research annual report; Annual Report




99 pages : colour illustration ; 30 cm.

File type




Copyright owner

Menzies School of Health Research



Related links

https://www.menzies.edu.au/ [Menzie School of Health Research website]

Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

Mirjam (pronounced Miriam) works in Menzies Tropical and Emerging Infectious Diseases Division as a senior research offi cer, and has just fi nished a large pilot study on the environmental habitat of the melioidosis bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei in the Top End. To be fair, Mirjam has spent time in other tropical areas, notably Papua New Guinea where she did fi eldwork for her PhD research into malaria. At the time she was studying at the Swiss Tropical Institute in Basel, one of Europes foremost research institutions in the area of tropical diseases. Once she fi nished her PhD she decided to concentrate on lesser known tropical diseases, and melioidosis (caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei) was the one that pricked her interest. I approached Bart Currie and he invited me to join a study of the bacteriums habitat in the soil, she says. Mirjam works in a team of seven and is the lead author of a recently published paper detailing the pilot studys fi ndings regarding the occurrence of B. pseudomallei in Top End soils. Not much is known about the natural habitat of the bacterium, and its not really clear why it occurs in some spots and not in others, she says. We know that it occurs in moist tropical soils spread between 20N and 20S, especially in Australia and South East Asia. More than a thousand melioidosis cases occur every year mainly among rice farmers in Thailand. B. pseudomallei also has the ability to infect a lot of animals including livestock, other mammals, birds and reptiles. Melioidosis is very diffi cult to treat and is most likely to occur in people with diabetes, chronic renal or lung disease and other conditions that weaken the immune system. Indigenous people account for half of the melioidosis patients in the Top End. This probably relates to an increased exposure to the melioidosiscausing bacterium. Were all accidental hosts the bacterium lives in soil around the roots of plants and, while we still dont know what the relationship is between B. pseudomallei and plants, we know that its purpose in life is not to infect us, Mirjam says. In the pilot study, some 809 soil samples from the Darwin area were screened for the presence of the melioidosis-causing bacterium. One of the key outcomes is that, in areas of disturbed soil such as on farms or residential properties, B. pseudomallei was associated with irrigated lawns and the presence of animals. The highest B. pseudomallei counts were retrieved from paddocks, pens and kennels holding livestock and dogs. This has implications for how we manage development activities, with the main concern being that the melioidosis-causing bacterium could spread due to changes in land management, Mirjam says. When shes not at work Mirjam is a keen sailor, scuba diver and bushwalker and this year aims to go skiing in the Snowy Mountains. Mirjam Kaestli has survived everything Darwin has thrown at her over the past three years. That includes arriving in the Top End from snowy Switzerland in the middle of the build up, collecting stitches from a wayward yacht boom and working with a deadly bacterial pathogen. So how does she fi nd the place? Its a really nice place to live with a laid-back, tropical atmosphere, says this molecular epidemiologist from St. Gallen in Switzerland. Menzies Staff under the Microscope Dr Mirjam Kaestli Research Fellow, Tropical and Emerging Infectious Diseases Division Melioidosis is a severe disease with an often poor response to therapy; thats why, prevention of infection is important and the knowledge about where in the environment the melioidosis causing bacteria live is the foundation for effective prevention strategies to reduce the burden of this emerging disease. Want to work or study at Menzies? Visit www.menzies.edu.au for more information about employment and education opportunities. 55Tropical and Emerging Infectious Diseases Division

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain the names, voices and images of people who have died, as well as other culturally sensitive content. Please be aware that some collection items may use outdated phrases or words which reflect the attitude of the creator at the time, and are now considered offensive.

We use temporary cookies on this site to provide functionality.
By continuing to use this site without changing your settings, you consent to our use of cookies.