AITHM James Cook University


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28 July 2021

The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine has welcomed a leading Queensland science strategist to its advisory board, with her expertise set to cement the future development of tropical health research in North Queensland.

Dr Julia Playford is Executive Director for Science Strategy and Partnerships at the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, and is a driving force behind mapping out the State’s infectious diseases research capabilities.

Dr Playford said the Science Roadmap encouraged collaboration between research institutes and universities, and has already demonstrated Queensland’s significant available capabilities in infectious disease.

She said AITHM at JCU in Townsville, is one of the few places in Australia where highly infectious disease research can be conducted, in its Physical Containment (PC3) laboratory.

“North Queensland delivers research of vital importance to the health of people living and working in the Tropics, and it is this health and medical research which underpins a vibrant and progressive economy in the regions, so it is an honour to work with such an institution,” Dr Playford said.                                                                                                                                                                   

“Their research across three areas includes Tropical Health security which spans mosquito programs in the Pacific and protecting Australia’s boarders, unlocking answers to diseases which most affect those living in the Tropics, and developing and improving health systems.                               

AITHM Director Distinguished Professor Louis Schofield said Dr Playford, who holds a PhD in evolutionary genetics and has years of experience in developing the science sector across Queensland, brings her significant expertise and knowledge to the AITHM board.

“AITHM owes much of its current good standing to Julia through her insight, and with her encouragement and critique she has helped the Institute’s development over the years,” Professor Schofield said.

“Julia has been involved in the development and growth of AITHM since we opened our $42.12m state-of-the-art research facilities at JCU in Cairns, Townsville and on Thursday Island in 2013.

“She is very engaged and highly knowledgeable where scientific expertise overlaps public policy and we are so pleased to welcome her formally to our board."

The AITHM Board, which met in Townsville this month, is Chaired by former federal Health Minister Dr Michael Wooldridge.  In addition to Dr Playford, external Board members include:

Former Federal Senator, Cairns-based Jan McLucas, internationally acclaimed biochemist, tissue engineer, inventor and entrepreneur Professor Zee Upton, Townsville Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Kieran Keyes, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Tina Chinery, Chair of the Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre (TAAHC) Emeritus Professor Ian Wronski AO, and The Grattan Institute Program Director Tony Wood.

JCU’s internal Board members include: Provost Professor Chris Cocklin, Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Murray, AITHM Director Distinguished Professor Louis Schofield, and AITHM Deputy Director Professor Denise Doolan.

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