One focus of the IDIRG is the determination of the pathogenesis of melioidosis, a disease endemic to tropical regions of the world. The Gram-negative bacteria that causes melioidosis, Burkholderiapseudomallei, has a bioterrorism potential, as the severe form of the disease is nearly always fatal if left untreated.

Our work on sero-epidemiology, molecular microbiology, host-pathogen interactions, lymphocyte and cytokine responses and therapeutics of melioidosis, is internationally recognised. A number of projects are available in this field covering aspects of immunology, pathogenesis, bacteriology and molecular biology.

In recognition of the melioidosis research that has been undertaken in Townsville, our team hosted the VI World Melioidosis Congress in 2010


  1. Investigation of Burkholderia pseudomallei trafficking and implications for exposed patients B. pseudomallei can invade and survive within host cells, including macrophages (mφ) and dendritic cells (DC). Using B. pseudomallei-susceptible and -resistant models we are investigating intracellular trafficking of the bacterium within Mφ and DC to identify key mechanisms influencing disease progression
  2. Strategies for sepsis management
    Bacterial sepsis is associated with significant mortality worldwide. Using models of melioidosis sepsis, we are investigating the potential of novel therapies as clinically effective antisepsis medications.
  3. Investigation of host-pathogen interactions in co-morbid melioidosis and diabetes
    We have developed models of melioidosis-diabetes co-morbidity and are investigateing defects in early immune responses that contribute to the increased susceptibility of individuals with diabetes to B. pseudomallei infection.
  4. Characterisation of a model of latent melioidosis
    B. pseudomallei can avoid complete eradication by the immune system and remain latent. A model of latent melioidosis is being characterised to understand how B. pseudomallei is able to persist for extended periods in the host.
  5. Diagnostic and vaccine antigen discovery
    Following identification of B. pseudomallei antigens that are important in the development of adaptive immunity, recombinant bacterial proteins are being assessed for their application in a rapid diagnostic assay  for melioidosis. In addition, the immunizing capacity of these proteins are being assessed in our models of melioidosis.