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 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 is the rapid detection and early treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This requires unique screening methods in the laboratory, and specialized testing of antibiotics. We have also focused on detecting contamination of the hospital environment with these 'multi-resistant' bacteria, and designing interventions to combat this. Resistant bacteria are reported by our statistical unit, and infections in critical areas like the Statewide Burns Service, the Intensive Care Unit, Haematology (bone marrow cancer and transplant) and renal dialysis units are closely monitored. A core research project is ongoing, with genomic analysis of MRSA (an antibiotic-resistant type of Staphylococcus) in patients from the Burns Unit to show whether there has been patient-to-patient transmission.

The Department is also involved in national surveillance studies for bacterial resistance (reporting to AGAR, OrgTrx and CARalerts). The Department includes foundation members of these key national reporting organisations, and has been instrumental in preparation and ongoing data contribution to these important programs. These studies allow us to understand the extent of the problem for both the medical community and the public.

Alongside this we are actively involved in efforts to improve the utilization of antibiotics (a service known as Antimicrobial Stewardship) by the Department's involvement in antibiotic prescribing education, and advocacy for better usage at local and national levels. The Department has a strong research stream in this area. The Department participates in an ongoing international trial of combination antibiotic therapy for MRSA bloodstream infection, CAMERA2.

The laboratory also has a specialized section for investigating the causes of gut infections, and has developed rapid tests which mean doctors get results the same day. This work was awarded the 2013 Harry Collins Award. Further work is underway for a rapid test for a broad range of gut viruses.

Key Achievements

  • OrgTrx - foundation members and contributing laboratory for national surveillance of antimicrobial resistance rates
  • CARAlert - confirming laboratory for detection of critical antimicrobial resistance patterns of national importance
  • NSW Health Public Health Pathogens Genomics Partnership - Dr Genevieve McKew in collaboration with staff from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, for research into genomics of MRSA infections in the Burns Unit.


  • 2013 - Harry Collins Award - Excellence and Innovation in Science
  • NiSHPA Young Pharmacist Award 2016 - Fiona Doukas

Research Staff

  • A/Prof. Thomas Gottlieb, Head of Department of Infectious Diseases
  • Dr. Elaine Cheong, Head of Department of Microbiology
  • Ms. Fiona Doukas, Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacist and PhD candidate
  • Dr. Shelanah Fernando, Advanced Trainee, Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
  • Dr. Timothy Gray, Staff Specialist Microbiology/Infectious Diseases
  • Dr. Genevieve McKew, Staff Specialist Microbiology/Infectious Diseases
  • Dr. John Merlino, PhD, Senior Scientist, Antibiotics
  • Ms. Thuy Phan, BSc, Senior Scientific Officer, Microbiology
  • Dr. Steven Siarakas, PhD, Senior Scientist, Molecular Microbiology
  • Ms. Monica Stelmach, BSc, MPhil, Scientific Officer, Microbiology
  • Ms. Rebecca Stephenson, BSc, MSc, Scientific Officer, Microbiology

Higher Degree Students:


  • Monica Stelmach - PhD candidate (Biofilms)
  • Fiona Doukas - PhD candidate (Antimicrobial stewardship)


  •  Ms. Rebecca Stephenson, Master of Public Health candidate

Publications and Presentations

Publication Details:
  1. Fernando SA, Gottlieb T. Aggregatibacter Aphrophilus Sacroiliitis Following Gastroscopy in a Young Sportsman. Clin J Sport Med. 2016 Jun 22
  2. Andrea C Issler-Fisher, Richard M Fakin, Oliver M Fisher, Genevieve McKew Riccardo Gazzola, Ann-Kathrin Rauch, Thomas Gottlieb, Peter Haertsch, Merlin Guggenheim Pietro Giovanoli, Peter K M Maitz. Microbiological findings in burn patients treated in a general versus a designated intensive care unit: Effect on length of stay. Burns. 2016 Jun 29. pii: S0305-4179(16)30194-2.doi:10.1016/j.burns.2016.06.019
  3. Bell JM, Turnidge JD, Coombs GW, Daley DA, Gottlieb T, Robson J, George N. Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance Australian Enterobacteriaceae Sepsis Outcome Programme annual report, 2014. Commun Dis Intell Q Rep. 2016 Jun 30; 40(2):E229-35.
  4. E. Geoffrey Playford, Jeffrey Lipman, Michael Jones, Anna F. Lau, Masrura Kabir, Sharon C-A. Chen, Deborah J. Marriott, Ian Seppelt, Thomas Gottlieb, Winston Cheung, Jonathan R. Iredell, Emma S. McBryde, and Tania C. Sorrell. Problematic dichotomisation of risk for ICU-acquired invasive candidiasis: results using a risk predictive model to categorise three levels of risk from a multicentre prospective cohort of Australian ICU patients Clinical Infectious Diseases 2016 : ciw610v1-ciw610. http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/09/02/cid.ciw610.abstract?keytype=ref&ijkey=WrbKiz5DjOqqpol
  5. Gudiol C, Royo-Cebrecos C, Tebe C, Gottlieb T et al. Clinical efficacy of β-lactam/β-lactamase inhibitor combinations for the treatment of bloodstream infection due to extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae in haematological patients with neutropaenia: a study protocol for a retrospective observational study (BICAR). Study Protocol. BMJ Open. Volume 7, Issue 1 http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/1/e013268
  6. Alice E. Kizny Gordon, Amy J. Mathers, Elaine Y. L. Cheong, Thomas Gottlieb, Shireen Kotay, A. Sarah Walker, Timothy E. A. Peto, Derrick W. Crook, Nicole Stoesser. Is the hospital water environment a reservoir for carbapenem-resistant organisms causing hospital-acquired infections? A systematic review of the literature. Clin Infect Dis 13 February 2017.
  7. Playford EG, Lipman J, Jones M, Lau AF, Kabir M6, Chen SC, Marriott DJ, Seppelt I, Gottlieb T, Cheung W, Iredell JR, McBryde ES, Sorrell TC. Problematic Dichotomization of Risk for Intensive Care Unit (ICU)-Acquired Invasive Candidiasis: Results Using a Risk-Predictive Model to Categorize 3 Levels of Risk From a Multicenter Prospective Cohort of Australian ICU Patients. Clin Infect Dis. 2016 Dec 1;63(11):1463-1469. Epub 2016 Sep 6.
  8. Kennedy KJ, Daveson K, Slavin MA, van Hal SJ, Sorrell TC, Lee A, Marriott DJ, Chapman B, Halliday CL, Hajkowicz K, Athan E, Bak N, Cheong E, Heath CH, Morrissey CO, Kidd S, Beresford R, Blyth C, Korman TM, Robinson JO, Meyer W, Chen SC; Australia and New Zealand Mycoses Interest Group of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases Mucormycosis in Australia: contemporary epidemiology and outcomes. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2016 Sep;22(9):775-781. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2016.01.005. Epub 2016 Jan 20.
  9. Subedi S, Kong F, Jelfs P, Gray TJ, Xiao M, Sintchenko V, Chen SC. 16S-23S Internal Transcribed Spacer Region PCR and Sequencer-Based Capillary Gel Electrophoresis has Potential as an Alternative to High Performance Liquid Chromatography for Identification of Slowly Growing Nontuberculous Mycobacteria. PLoS One. 2016 Oct 17;11(10):e0164138. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164138. eCollection 2016

  1. Thomas Gottlieb. International survey on the current practice of endoscope-reprocessing. ECCMID 2016, Amsterdam, April 2016. Abstract Reference No: 6698
  2. Thomas Gottlieb, Genevieve McKew, Thuy Phan, Tina Cai, Susan Taggart, Christine Parker, Peter Haertsch, Peter Maitz, Elaine Cheong. Effect of adjunctive of hydrogen peroxide vapour decontamination on MRO detection in a hospital burns unit. ECCMID 2016, Amsterdam, April 2016. Abstract Reference No: 4868
  3. Kylie Horne, Ann Versporten, Kelly Cairns, Estelle Hames, Fiona Doukas, Allen C Cheng, Tony Korman, Herman Goossens, Thomas Gottlieb. The Global Point Prevalence Survey of Antimicrobial Consumption and Resistance (Global-PPS): Antimicrobial prescribing in Australian hospitals. ECCMID 2016, Amsterdam, April 2016
  4. N. Kenters, E. Tartari, P. Collignon, P. Tambyah, K.Marimuthu, M. Ling, B. Ang, W. Seto, L. Frazer, T. Gottlieb, A. Gikas, Y.Ramsamy, E. Huijskens, D. Gupta, A. Friedrich, J. Hopman, M. Schweizer, R.Elsokkary, E. Perencevich, A. Voss. International survey on the current practice of endoscope-reprocessing. Session: Reducing cross-contamination and transmission. Poster Presentation P0627. ECCMID 2016, Amsterdam, April 2016
  5. Gottlieb T. AMS strategies: What works and doesn't. 16th Asia Pacific Congress on Clinical Microbiology and Infection. November 30-Dec 2. Melbourne.
  6. Gottlieb T. AMS strategies: Gram -ve Superbugs: New Challenges, What is Trending. 16th Asia Pacific Congress on Clinical Microbiology and Infection. November 30-Dec 2. Melbourne.
  7. Gottlieb T. VRE. Infection Control and Contact Precautions. Australian Society for Antimicrobials Meeting, Adelaide. February 2017.
  8. Bell J.M. and Gottlieb T, for the Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance. The Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance Report from the Enterobacteriaceae Sepsis Outcome Program (EnSOP) 2015 - Part A Susceptibility Data. Australian Society for Antimicrobials Meeting, Adelaide. February 2017.
  9. Fiona Doukas. Invited Speaker for the APSA 2016 Annual Conference on 'Antimicrobial Stewardship'
  10. Fiona Doukas. ASA 2016 oral presentation: Comparison of prescriber attitudes and beliefs towards antimicrobial stewardship over a 10 year period at Concord Hospital - can the message be sustained?
  11. Joanneke Beekman, Monica Stelmach, Steven Siarakas, Elaine Cheong, Peter Maitz, and Zhe Li. Antimicrobial Efficacy of Acticoat Treated with Saline vs.Water on Common Burn Wound Pathogens Burns research, ANZAC Research Institute; Burns Unit and Microbiology Dept, Concord Repatriation General Hospital; Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney. Perth, July 2016. Abstract ASM (Poster)
  12. Rebecca Stephenson, Steven Siarakas, Monica Stelmach, and Genevieve McKew. Investigation for liaF deletion in vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium isolates from Australian Hospital Patients. ASM Perth, July 2016. Abstract ASM (Poster)

Research Grants

NSW Health Public Health Pathogen Genomics Partnership Genevieve McKew, in collaboration with Matthew O'Sullivan and Vitali Sintchenko MRSA transmission in the Burns Unit: whole-genome sequencing compared to binary typing for transmission events  $ 15,000 2016-2018

Contact details for department

Head of Department: Associate Professor Thomas Gottlieb

Department/Unit: Microbiology and Infectious Disease
Concord Hospital
Hospital Road
Concord NSW 2139
Telephone: (02) 9767 6904
Facsimile: (02) 9767 7868
Web: http://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/Concord/MID_about.html
Email: genevieve.mckew@health.nsw.gov.au