The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital

Dr Neta Petersiel

Meet our graduate researchers - Dr Neta Petersiel

Research title:Are MRSA β-lactam susceptibility phenotypes and genotypes associated with treatment response and clinical outcomes in MRSA bloodstream infections?  

Tong Group

Started PhD studies in 2022

“Dr Petersiel’s research will be crucial in finding links between detailed laboratory investigations of infecting bacterial isolates and results from a large clinical trial. The results from her studies may inform future tailored treatment approaches for patients with MRSA bloodstream infections.” - Professor Steven Tong

Tell us about your PhD research 

My research question is whether some MRSA isolates are more susceptible to beta-lactams than others. While beta-lactams are considered to be the best treatment option for susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (S.aureus) infections they are thought to be ineffective against MRSA infections. The first phase of my research will focus on defining recently discovered beta-lactam hypersusceptibility phenotypes among MRSA isolates that were collected during the CAMERA2 trial. The next step will be to look for a genotypic signature of these beta-lactams "susceptible" strains. Finally, I intend to compare the outcomes of participants in CAMERA2 who had infections with beta-lactam "susceptible" and "non-susceptible" MRSA strains and were treated with beta-lactam as part of their treatment.  


What and where did you study/work/undertake placement/training before your PhD? 

I received my MD from the Technion medical faculty in Haifa, Israel. After an internship year, I continued to do my residency in Internal Medicine and then a fellowship in Infectious Diseases, both at Rambam Medical Center in Israel. I also spent some time working in a rural hospital in Uganda as part of the Israeli Medicine on the Equator Project. Before arriving in Australia in 2021, I worked as a consultant in the internal medicine ward, the infectious diseases unit, and the HIV clinic at Rambam medical center.  


What made you decide to first undertake a PhD and choose the Doherty Institute?  

 I arrived in Australia in mid-2021 to start a clinical research fellowship with Steven Tong at the Doherty Institute and Royal Melbourne Hospital. I spent the first year here analysing data from the CAMERA2 trial and getting ready to launch the randomized SNAP trial for patients with S.aureus bloodstream infections. I found both projects to be interesting and challenging and so I wanted to extend my skills and knowledge by applying for a Ph.D.  

As a clinician, I am interested in research that could potentially have clinical applications and could change patients' management. I think that the Doherty Institute, being a joint venture between the university and the hospital, where clinicians and basic science researchers can work together provides this balance that I was looking for. 


How do you combine your PhD research with your role as an infectious diseases physician? 

I'm currently applying for specialist registration so I can keep working as an ID physician while I work on my PhD. There are a few reasons why I think it is essential for clinicians to practice while conducting research. first, I think the best research questions stem from clinical needs that we face in everyday work at the hospital or clinic. second, it's important for physicians to stay up-to-date and not become "rusty". Finally, I love doing clinical work! 


When do you hope to complete and what are your plans post-PhD? 

 I hope to complete my PhD in mid-2025.


What advice do you have for an infectious diseases physician who is considering a PhD? 

 I've only started my PhD recently. I think that choosing supervisors who come from different fields and can therefore complement each other's expertise is essential.  


Find out more about Dr Petersiel’s experience dealing with the COVID-10 pandemic in Israel COVID-19 - The Israel experience | Doherty Website