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Department of Infectious Diseases

About Us 

The Barwon Health Department of Infectious Diseases and Infection Prevention is an academic tertiary referral program and incorporates:

  • Expert infection prevention/control service across all Barwon Health sites.
  • Infectious diseases services including consultations, inpatient care and antimicrobial stewardship to all acute care sites.
  • Accredited advanced training in infectious diseases and microbiology.
  • Specialised ambulatory and outpatient services for general infectious diseases, Hospital in the Home, HIV management, sexual and reproductive health, viral hepatitis and refugee health service with multidisciplinary models of care and pediatric input.
  • Psychiatry and pharmacy specialist liaison services and comprehensive community case management programs (HIV/HARP).
  • 24-hour community HIV post-exposure prophylaxis service.
  • Extensive infectious diseases research programs in clinical, basic sciences, public health and epidemiology.

The Department works closely with Deakin University, with many of our physicians and staff having teaching roles and academic appointments with the university. We also have close links with the GCEID, a collaborative, multidisciplinary research partnership between Deakin University, Barwon Health and the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) and links with Alice Springs Hospital (with our registrars rotating to Central Australia for six-month placements).

The Department has active research collaborations locally and internationally, as well as running an active infectious diseases clinical trials unit.

Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (GCEID) in partnership with the Department of Infectious Diseases

Research program

We are a multidisciplinary research team including basic genomic and pathogen biology scientists, environmental scientists, public health specialists, epidemiologists and expert clinicians.

We are tackling diseases of public health importance including: emerging infections such Mycobacteria ulcerans (Buruli ulcer), zoonotic infections: Coxiella, Rickettsia, Biofilm infections of medical devices - orthopaedic and cardiac, and virulent pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections, Endocarditis and Clostridium difficle.

Our research team and laboratory is uniquely placed across several campuses with access to patients, population cohorts, clinical samples, bio-banking and clinical trials platforms including Phase 1 through 3 studies.

Our work includes host-pathogen relationships, molecular epidemiology, disease transmission and dynamics and future preventative strategies for at-risk populations.

For further enquires contact:

Associate Professor Daniel O’Brien

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ph 03 4215 2375

Discipline: Infection and Immunity

2020-21 highlights

Victoria experienced the drastic consequences of the second wave of COVID-19 in late 2020. Our healthcare workers across the system worked tirelessly to prepare for a large number of cases and hospitalisations but the greatest toll was on the elderly especially those in residential aged care (RACFs). Despite our careful planning, there were many deaths and rapid transmission in RACFs. In our region, we developed rapid responses, testing, outbreak management and medical escalation pathways which were tested and helped to prevent deaths.

The single most important legacy from 2020 has been the successful establishment of local Public Health Units in Victoria. At Barwon South West region (BSW) as the inaugural Director, we are building a “one-stop-shop” to manage and coordinate: rapid contact tracing, COVID monitoring, rapid testing and rollout of the new COVID vaccines across the BSW population.  In all these areas we have been at the forefront of delivering to our local population. Our contact tracing program was recognised at the Public Service Awards 2020 as a Finalist. Our vaccine rollout is leading the way in Victoria. I was awarded OAM at the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to Infectious Disease Medicine.

Three members of our Department have been seconded to the Victorian Department of Health (DH) as Deputy Chief Health Officers (DCHOs) for varying time periods to support the statewide efforts. Dan O’Brien continues in this capacity half time and Deb Friedman has moved permanently to this role.

Our Infection prevention service continues to provide expert guidance during the complex settings of COVID ready as well as the ongoing programs to keep our patients safe from healthcare-associated infections. Our ID consultants and Registrars have worked tirelessly to help steer our health service through these challenging times and have stood up testing, contact tracing and inpatient COVID management models and provided regional expert referral support. The Aust Rickettsia Ref. lab (ARRL) has enabled our service to access rapid COVID testing with great agility and reliability.

Our programs in ID Immigrant Health, Viral hepatitis, HIV and Sexual Health continue to serve vulnerable populations effectively. We are planning a GP support partnership with the PHN and the Melb. Sexual Health Centre led by Dr Sarah Huffam and Rochelle Hamilton to improve access in our region.

We continue to support the Alice Springs Hospital with ID registrar and consultant rotations. New members of our team include Peter Gordon at BRASH, Brooke Flanders at Liver Clinic, Claire Hynes IPS and Dr Callum Maggs VMO.

Our research efforts continue to attract support with a large DJPR grant for a long-term COVID case-control study this is a multidisciplinary project with Deakin University to better understand the biological and psychological consequences of COVID infection. We are also partners with CSIRO in a new MRFF grant using cell cultures to study new potential drug targets for COVID. We have an ongoing partnership with the University of Melb. for a new NHMRC grant to extend our Controlling Buruli Ulcer project.

Dr Amanda Wade is leading a successful program in partnership with the Burnet Institute to test and treat high-risk patients for hepatitis C infection. At the School of Medicine, Darcie Cooper successfully completed her PhD in Prosthetic joint infections and Carly Botheras has submitted her PhD in Staph. aureus bloodstream infections. The Clinical Trials team, despite the COVID restrictions, have successfully set up and undertaken several new studies including 3 phase 1-2 in Novovax vaccines, RSV vaccines in adults and Pregnancy and a new Staph Vaccine.

 Key publications


  1. The impact of infectious diseases consultation on the management and outcomes of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteremia in adults: a retrospective cohort study. Chiong F, Wasef MS, Liew KC, Cowan R, Tsai D, Lee YP, Croft L, Harris O, Gwini SM, Athan E. BMC Infect Dis. 2021 Jul 9;21(1):671.
  2. Pregnancy - a key moment for engaging women with hepatitis B in care. Roder C, Chand S, Streat S, Beynon S, Huning E, Dabkowski P, Athan E, Wade AJ. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2021 Jun;45(3):299-300.
  3. C-reactive protein predicts complications in community-associated S. aureus bacteremia: a cohort study. Botheras CL, Bowe SJ, Cowan R, Athan E. BMC Infect Dis. 2021 Apr 1;21(1):312.
  4. The effectiveness of a simple antimicrobial stewardship intervention in general practice in Australia: a pilot study. Neels AJ, Bloch AE, Gwini SM, Athan E.BMC Infect Dis. 2020 Aug 7;20(1):586.

Meet the team

Our Research

Publications (select a year)

Last Modified: Tuesday, 15 August 2023