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Tropical infections under the microscope

Infectious diseases have a significant impact on human wellbeing and remain a major cause of premature death in the tropical world, according to a JCU academic.

First published 27 August 2012

Infectious diseases have a significant impact on human wellbeing and remain a major cause of premature death in the tropical world, according to a James Cook University academic.

Professor Natkunam Ketheesan from JCU’s Discipline of Microbiology and Immunology within the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, will present a lecture: Unravelling the Conundrum - Our body’s defence against tropical infections.

The lecture is as part of the Professorial Inaugural Lecture Program and will be held on Wednesday, September 12 in Townsville.

Professor Natkunam Ketheesan said a greater understanding of the function of the immune system was essential to develop strategies to effectively combat tropical infection.

Professor Ketheesan said he would discuss the current understanding of how the body’s defence system protects people from infection.

“An understanding of how the cells and proteins of the immune system interact with each other during infection is important as it determines the disease outcome.

“Discovering how the immune system interacts with infectious agents at every stage of the disease process will enable future developments of rapid tests to identify infections, medicines to treat complications and vaccines to prevent infections.”

Professor Ketheesan will also speak about the research efforts of his team at JCU targeting some of these issues.


Professor Natkunam Ketheesan completed his medical education at the Vinnitsa Medical Institute and after obtaining his MSc and PhD from the University of Leeds, he worked as a Research Fellow in the Universities of Leeds, Western Australia and Queensland. In 2000 he accepted a lecturer position at JCU and commenced teaching immunology to undergraduate students within the professional and biomedical degree programmes.

At JCU, he established a research group which is focused on investigating the interactions that occur between selected tropical bacterial pathogens and the human host, to enable the development of strategies to better identify and combat infections and their complications.

His research is supported by both international and national funding agencies including the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council.

The work carried out by his team and their collaborators have been widely published in peer-reviewed specialist journals and presented at both national and international conferences.


Professorial Inaugural Lecture

Professor Natkunam Ketheesan

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Time: 5.30pm

Location: School of Medicine Precinct, Lecture Theatre DB045-002, JCU Townsville campus

JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175