Associate Professor Sintchenko leads a broad-ranging translational research program related to biosurveillance of bacterial diseases that are important to public health, with the aim of advancing laboratory-based surveillance and the prevention, control and management of these diseases. The work includes studies on biosurveillance, molecular diagnostics and epidemiology of pathogens with epidemic potential, and development and evaluation of decision analysis and decision support tools and programs.
Associate Professor Sintchenko has made significant contributions to the field with his work published in top-ranked journals including Nature, Lancet Infectious Diseases and Clinical Infectious Diseases. His paper [Nature Microbiology Reviews 2007] on an innovative approach to pathogen profiling using phenotype-based methods with DNA sequencing, proteomics and sequence-based typing, has enhanced the understanding of transmission patterns and dynamics of epidemics.
“I am driven by health outcomes rather than discoveries of gene functions”, he says. “Current surveillance systems can be slow, reactive and typically only detect large outbreaks of infectious diseases, often when the outbreak is already declining/tapering. Consequently, we are using the innovative approach of combining genomic-guided surveillance with syndromic surveillance and a multitude of additional clinical and epidemiological information, to increase the sensitivity, specificity and timeliness of detection and tracking of pathogens with epidemic potential, to detect outbreaks early and to enable our public health colleagues to mount an effective response. The funding provided by NSW Health and the infrastructure of Westmead Hospital and the MBI are invaluable for our efforts at capacity building to track disease outbreaks such as tuberculosis, pertussis and food-borne bacterial illnesses. Our aim is to develop scalable surveillance and tracking systems that are useful to epidemiologists, clinicians and pathologists”.