Our Research

Our Research

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Contact Details

  Street address:
Level 11, KGV Building
Missenden Road
Postal address:
Post Office Box M30
Missenden Road NSW 2050

Phone: (02) 9515-6111
Fax: (02) 9515-9610

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Microbiology and Infectious Disease

Our Research

Research into aspects of clinical Infectious Diseases and Microbiology with a focus on antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial stewardship.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and their role in infections contracted by patients in hospital, have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the biggest future threats to modern medicine as we know it. Antibiotic therapy allows innovative modern treatments such as organ and bone marrow transplantation and surgical procedures including joint replacement, graft and burns surgery possible, by preventing and dealing with the possible complications of these treatments.

A major focus of our research and presentations at national and international conferences is the rapid detection and early treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which require unique screening methods in the laboratory, and specialized antibiotics to treat the infections they cause. We have also focused on detecting contamination of the hospital environment with these 'multi-resistant' bacteria, and designing interventions to combat this.

Alongside this we are actively involved in efforts to improve the utilization of antibiotics (so-called antimicrobial stewardship) (both in the hospital setting and nationally) by the Department's involvement antibiotic education, and advocacy for better usage at local and national levels. The Department is also involved in complementary surveillance studies for resistance that is in studies monitoring the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. These studies allow us to understand the extent of the problem for both the medical community and the public.

The laboratory also has a specialized section for investigating the causes of diarrhea, and has developed rapid tests which cut days from the time it takes for doctors to get a result for their patient. There is also a focus on continuous quality improvement in preventing infections in patients admitted to Concord Hospital. Resistant bacteria are reported to the wards and stakeholder units by our statistical unit, and infections in critical areas like Intensive Care, Haematology (bone marrow cancer and transplant) and renal dialysis (kidney function replacement) units are closely monitored.

Key Achievements

  • National Antimicrobial surveillance (AGAR) Burns Microbiology.


  • 2013 - Harry Collins Award - Excellence and Innovation in Science

Research Staff

  • A/Prof. Thomas Gottlieb
  • Dr. Elaine Cheong
  • Dr. John Merlino
  • Dr. Steven Siarakas
  • Dr. Genevieve McKew
  • Ms. Fiona Doukas, Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacist
  • Dr. Timothy Gray, Staff Specialist Microbiology/Infectious Diseases

Publications and Presentations

Publication Details:
  1. Lau A, Kabir M, Chen S C-A, Playford G, Marriott DJ, Jones M, Lipman J, McBryde E, Gottlieb T, Cheung W, Seppet I, Sorrell TC. Candida colonisation as a risk marker for invasive candidiasis in mixed medical-surgical intensive care units: Development and utilisation of a simple, standardised protocol. J Clin Microbiol. April 2015 53:1324-1330 http://jcm.asm.org/content/53/4/1324.abstract?etoc.
  2. Reppas G, Gottlieb T, Krockenberger M, Halliday C, Malik R. Microsphaeropsis arundinis: an emerging cause of phaeohyphomycosis in cats and people. Microbiology Australia 2015, May, 74-78 http://microbiology.publish.csiro.au/?act=view_file&file_id=MA15025.pdf .
  3. Looke DFM, Gottlieb T, Jones CA. The global challenges of infectious diseases. The Medical Journal of Australia 2015; 202(5):225-6. https://www.mja.com.au/system/files/issues/202_05/loo00154.pdf.
  4. S J Crawford, S C-A Chen, C Halliday, G K Rangan, T Gottlieb, A B Reid. Microsphaeropsis arundinis skin and soft tissue infection in renal transplant recipients: three case reports and a review of the literature. Transplant infectious disease.
  5. Issler-Fisher AC, McKew G, Fisher OM, Harish V, Gottlieb T, Maitz PK. Risk factors for, and the effect of MRSA colonization on the clinical outcomes of severely burnt patients. Burns. 2015 Jul 3. pii: S0305-4179(15)00063-7. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2015.03.003.
  6. Elaine X. L. Yong, Elaine Y. L. Cheong, Craig S. Boutlis, Darren B. Chen, Eunice Y.-T. Liu, Genevieve L. McKew. Nocardia Septic Arthritis Complicating an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Repair. JCM. August 2015 vol. 53 no. 8 2760-2762.
  7. Stefano Di Bella, Alessandra di Masi, Steven Siarakas, Nicola Petrosillo, Paolo Ascenzi. Clostridium difficile toxins A and B: new insights into pathogenic properties. Toxins 2016, 8, 134;doi:10.3390/ toxins8050134.
  8. Turnidge JD, Gottlieb T, Mitchell DH, Coombs GW, Daley DA, Bell JM for the Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance. Enterobacteriaceae Sepsis Outcome Programme annual report, 2013. Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 38 Number 4, December 2014. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-cdi3804-pdf-cnt.htm/$FILE/cdi3804i.pdf.
  9. Geoffrey W Coombs, Julie C Pearson, Denise A Daley, Tam T Le, James O Robinson, Thomas Gottlieb, Benjamin P Howden, Paul DR Johnson, Catherine M Bennett, Timothy P Stinear, John D Turnidge for the Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance. Australian Enterococcal Sepsis Outcome Programme annual report, 2013. Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 38 Number 4, December 2014. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-cdi3804-pdf-cnt.htm/$FILE/cdi3804h.pdf.

Book Chapters:
  1. Fiona Doukas, Eunice Liu, Thomas Gottlieb. 'Tinidazole'. Kucers' The Use of Antibiotics Seventh Edition: A Clinical Review of Antibacterial, Antifungal and Antiviral Drug.



  1. Thomas Gottlieb. Practical tips to start Antimicrobial Stewardship. 3rd ICPIC Geneva, June 2015.
  2. HAI Forum, Les Pensieres Annecy. June 2015. Surveillance of antibiotic use: impact on resistance.
  3. Thomas Gottlieb. 45th ICAAC/ICC San Diego, September 2015. Invited Speaker. Symposium SSSTIs. Do we need new treatments for Skin and Soft Tissue Infections?
  4. S. Abraham, D.J. Trott, D. Hughes, G. McKew, E. Cheong, J. Merlino, R. Malik, A. Kidsley, T. Gottlieb. 45th ICAAC/ICC San Diego, September 2015. Proffered paper. Detection of Metallo-β-Lactamase (IMP-4) producing Salmonella enterica in Australian cats


  1. The Challenge of Antimicrobial resistance. NSW Nurses Association Conference, July 2015.
  2. J. Merlino. Update on Antimicrobials Resistance: Gram Positive and Gram Negative Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing Methods and Applications in Laboratories. Workshop: Australian Society for Microbiology - Annual Scientific Meeting in Canberra, Australia, 2015.
  3. J. Merlino. Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing Methods and Emerging Resistances in Laboratories Includes a summary RCPA QAP in 2014 -Bacterial Resistances - What methods are clinical laboratory using and their performance? - Presentation: Australian Society for Microbiology - Annual Scientific Meeting in Canberra, Australia, 2015.
  4. J. Merlino. Detection of Carbapenemase-producing Bacteria in companion animals: a public health concern? Presentation: Australian Society for Microbiology - Clinical Special Interest Group, Sydney, NSW Australia, 2015.
  5. Fiona F. Doukas, Jade A. Fox, Thomas Gottlieb, Andrew J. McLachlan, Mary Louise, McLaws. Surgical Antibiotic Prophylaxis in a University teaching hospital: A retrospective study investigating prescribing according to national guidelines. SHPA Medicines Management, Melbourne, December 2015.

Contact details for department

Head of Department: A/Prof Thomas Gottlieb

Department/Unit: Microbiology and Infectious Disease
Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Concord NSW 2139
Telephone: (02) 9767 6904
Facsimile: (02) 9767 7868
Web: http://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/research/
Email: thomas.gottlieb@sswahs.nsw.gov.au