The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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


Research Projects

Project: Pathogenesis of bacterial pneumonia

Satzke Group

Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is the most common cause of community-acquired pneumonia and a leading killer of children world-wide. However, it is also commonly found as an asymptomatic coloniser of the upper respiratory tract (carriage), particularly in children.  We are interested in elucidating the molecular processes by which bacterial species, including the pneumococcus, can transition from the carriage to infection state, and identifying signals of pneumonia.  Previous work in our laboratory using clinical samples collected from children in The Gambia, West Africa, hospitalised with pneumonia, has identified several pneumococcal genes that were upregulated in the lung.  Recently, we have collected clinical samples from children with severe pneumonia at the Royal Children’s Hospital, including those infected with pneumococcus, group A streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus. Samples include pleural fluid, as well as some nose and throat swabs from these patients.

Your project aims will be to examine bacterial gene expression and genomics in samples and isolates collected from pneumonia patients at the Royal Children’s Hospital, and elucidate the role of these candidate genes in causing pneumonia. To do this, you will use a variety of approaches including: measurement of gene and/or protein expression (using methods such as qRT-PCR, RNA-seq, western blotting, and ELISA), and analysing their importance through bacterial mutagenesis and functional assays.

Your project will provide exciting new data on the pathogenesis of bacterial pneumonia. Access to clinical samples such as pleural fluid provides the unique opportunity to examine bacterial gene expression during pneumonia.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Associate Professor Catherine Satzke

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Jonathan Jacobson
Professor Sarath Ranganathan

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

Satzke Group

2 vacancies

Host Pathogens Interactions
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Global Health
Translational and Clinical Research

The Satzke group conducts research in a clinically-relevant context. We focus on the microbiology of two pathogens of major global health importance (pneumococcus and group A streptococcus) to understand their pathogenesis, interaction with viruses, and how infections can be best prevented with vaccines. We collaborate closely with immunologists, clinicians and epidemiologists, including in countries in the Asia-Pacific region, to facilitate translation and global impact.

Our laboratory also has the resources and expertise to adapt flexibly depending on the findings you generate throughout the year, or to additional COVID-19 restrictions. These include access to clinical and laboratory isolates, clinical samples, and bioinformatics expertise.

Satzke Group Current Projects