Professor Cheryl Jones, a paediatrician and infectious disease specialist, recently visited Chile, Brazil and Argentina to discuss opportunities for collaboration and postgraduate joint research.
“We found many overlapping areas of interest and opportunities to work together,” she said.
“This varied from place to place. At Austral University in Buenos Aires we met a childhood infectious diseases specialist who had a national network we could collaborate with to study emerging brain infections and encephalitis.
“At the University of Buenos Aires they have a particular interest in chlamydia being passed from mother to child. In Australia it’s well known as a re-emerging sexually transmitted infection but as yet we haven’t undertaken surveillance of mother-to-child transmission.
“This is definitely an area of potential collaboration, using our networks to communicate with researchers in Argentina.”
She said Chile also presented opportunities in areas including childhood tuberculosis and the molecular characteristics of bacterial strains.
Professor Jones is a member of the University’s Sydney Emerging Infection and Biosecurity Institute.
Her clinical and research interests span emerging infectious diseases, particularly brain infections and encephalitis. She has undertaken national studies to map out causes and look for new or emerging infections.
She is also interested in infections that are passed from mother to child such as cytomegalovirus, a common virus that can cause hearing loss in newborn infants.
“Viruses passed from mother to child are a very high cause of newborn mortality in a lot of developing countries, and many of these can be prevented by simple measures to do with good ante-natal care and basic interventions,” she said.
“There are others that can be prevented by vaccines that many developing countries are yet to implement.”
On her first visit to South America, Professor Jones said: “My overwhelming impression apart from the sheer beauty – flying in over the Andes was a phenomenal experience – was the sheer vibrancy of the people everywhere you went, and the sense of being on another great southern hemisphere continent.”
Contact: Richard North
Phone: 02 9351 3191