Public health focuses on the wellbeing of populations as a whole, rather than solely on individuals. The Doherty Institute is strongly engaged in public health within Victoria, Australia and internationally through its work in infectious diseases and immunity.
The Doherty Institute houses both of Victoria’s specialist infectious diseases reference laboratories: the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) and the Microbiology Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory (MDUPHL), together with national specialist laboratories for detection and characterisation of specific viral diseases (haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola, measles, rubella and enteroviruses) and foodborne pathogens. The MDU PHL is also home to the Doherty Applied Microbial Genomics program, which uses emerging genomics technologies to enhance public health.
International programs for the World Health Organization (WHO) include WHO Collaborating Centres working on Influenza, Viral Hepatitis, and Mycobacterium Ulcerans (Bairnsdale ulcer). In addition, programs for the Asia-Pacific region include WHO Regional Reference Laboratories for vaccine-preventable invasive bacterial diseases, Measles and Rubella, Hepatitis B and Poliovirus. These expert laboratories:
- Provide specialised diagnostic testing
- Investigate outbreaks
- Provide training and technical support
- Perform surveillance
- Collaborate in research and innovation in their respective fields
State and federal government roles
The Doherty Institute also supports the work of the Victorian and Australian governments in protecting public health by undertaking communicable disease surveillance and guiding appropriate responses for a range of infectious conditions, and contributes to the development of public health policy within Australia and internationally. The Victorian Tuberculosis Program is also based at the Doherty Institute and undertakes public health management, clinical support, and research related to tuberculosis.
Within the Doherty Institute, the capacity of public health programs is greatly enhanced by the availability of new technologies such as genomics and advanced imaging, together with bioinformatics, mathematical modelling and discovery research expertise in virology, microbiology and immunology.