Infection control & antimicrobial resistance

Antibiotic resistance poses a serious global threat to human health with close to one million people dying annually from bacterial infections that cannot be treated with common antibiotics.

A growing number of infections, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are becoming more difficult to treat due to antibiotic resistance. Genomic medicine is transforming the way we track and treat bacterial infections, with new technologies like whole genome sequencing being used to identify, treat and prevent infections.

As well achieving their individual project outcomes, the Infectious Disease Projects will work together to establish key infrastructure to support the clinical delivery of infectious disease genomics in Queensland including developing:

  • Considerations for routine testing for infectious disease outbreaks in hospitals and aged care facilities across Queensland

  • Considerations for Queensland’s integrated electronic Medical Record when tracking infectious disease outbreaks

The following infectious disease genomics projects are part of Queensland Genomics’ Round 2 Infectious Diseases Portfolio.


Healthcare-associated infections - track, treat and prevent infections

Every year, between 165 000 and 200 000 Australians contract a healthcare-associated infection, causing significant ill health and costs to the health system. This project aims to minimise healthcare-associated infections by sequencing genomes of multi-drug resistant bacteria suspected in patients in Queensland Health facilities, Queensland nursing homes and remote communities. This will allow a detailed analysis of antibiotic resistant bacteria, prevent outbreaks and allow for a rapid response when outbreaks do occur. This project will focus on protecting our most vulnerable patients, such as the elderly and those with suppressed immune systems, who are most at risk of life threatening infection.

PROJECT LEAD: Professor David Paterson (The University of Queensland)


Optimising treatment outcomes for children and adults with sepsis - saving lives through early detection of sepsis

Every year, more than 5000 Australians lose their lives to sepsis, with close to 20 000 Australians developing the illness. This project aims to reduce the number of deaths, serious complications, and length of stay in intensive care due to sepsis. The project will pilot sequencing of bacterial genomes from patients using a hand held genomic sequencing device in clinical practice. This can enable the rapid, accurate diagnosis of bacterial species in as little as 20 minutes – from a patient’s bedside whether they are in metropolitan areas, or in rural, regional or remote areas, supporting the prescription of the correct antibiotics sooner, minimising overuse of antibiotics, and saving lives.

PROJECT LEAD: Associate Professor Luregn Schlapbach (Queensland Children’s Hospital; The University of Queensland)


Pathogen genomics North Queensland - tackling infections in remote communities

Remote and indigenous communities, including those in North Queensland, experience higher rates of death and illness as a result of serious infectious diseases. Life-threatening infections such as sepsis are more prevalent due to remote communities’ delayed diagnosis and therefore treatment of infection with appropriate antibiotics. Far North Queensland is also vulnerable to emerging infectious diseases that arise in the Indo-Pacific region. This project will use genomic sequencing to identify bacteria in a matter of hours rather than days, enabling timely treatment and improving outcomes for patients. It will also allow emerging bacteria to be identified quickly, allowing health services to better prepare for developing health threats.

PROJECT LEAD: Professor Emma McBryde (James Cook University)