After completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Queensland, Rebecca worked in numerous national and international virology reference laboratories, including the HIV Reference Laboratory, SydPath, Enteric Virus Unit, Public Health England and the South London Specialist Virology Centre, Kings College Hospital. Rebecca returned to Australia and commenced her PhD studies at the
Queensland Paediatric Infectious Diseases Laboratory, characterising the biology and pathogenesis of newly described human polyomaviruses. These emerging viruses were uncovered using Next Generation Sequencing techniques which lead to Rebecca’s keen interest in pathogen genomics, particularly optimising methodologies to characterise fastidious agents.
Currently the use of genomics to characterise pathogens is limited by the ability to isolate pure pathogen nucleic acid, usually after solid medium culture. In addition a growing number of infectious agents are diagnosed using nucleic acid amplification techniques (NAAT), these specimen are not suitable for laboratory culture. Rebecca’s current project aims to develop genomics capability directly from clinical specimens. This will enable public health laboratories to utilise NAAT specimens, to examine and monitor genomic markers of antibiotic resistance, transmission and vaccine escape.