The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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

Professor Deborah Williamson

Professor Deborah Williamson

Professor Deborah Williamson

(03) 8344 5470 |

Director of VIDRL, Professor of Public Health Microbiology
Viral Infectious Diseases, Antimicrobial Resistance, Bacterial and Parasitic Infections
Education & Professional Development, Computational Science and Genomics, Global Health, Public Health, Clinical and health systems research
Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL), Department of Infectious Diseases
Lab Group(s):
Williamson group

Professor Deborah Williamson is a Clinical Microbiologist and Director of the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL). She is also a Professor of Public Health Microbiology and Laboratory Head in the Department of Infectious Diseases, and a lead for the Public Health cross-cutting discipline at the Doherty Institute. Deborah is a clinician-scientist involved in the delivery of specialist public health laboratory services, and in the diagnosis and surveillance of communicable diseases. Her laboratory focuses on the translation of diagnostic technologies, including genomics, to infectious diseases.

  • Key Achievements
    • Deborah is a member of the Royal College of Physicians and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and has held leadership roles across in Parkville Precinct in clinical and public health microbiology including as the Deputy Director of MDU PHL and Director of Microbiology at RMH before becoming the Director of VIDRL in 2021. Deborah is a current co-chair of the Communicable Diseases Genomics Network of Australia, a member of the Public Health Laboratory Network of Australia, an NHMRC Investigator Grant Fellow, and a Dame Kate Campbell Fellow. She has also been the recipient of several research awards, including the University of Auckland Vice Chancellor’s Prize for best Doctoral Thesis (2016), a L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship (2017), and was awarded the 2020 Frank Fenner Award for research by the Australian Society for Infectious Diseases.  

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    • Clinical metagenomics

      Metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) is transformative approach in microbial diagnostics and patient care, because it can be used to detect and characterise all known pathogens – bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic – from a sample in a single test within a clinically actionable timeframe. The application of metagenomic next generation sequencing in a diagnostic setting has the potential to transform patient care, enabling personalised approaches to infectious diseases treatment, including countering antimicrobial resistance. The MRFF funded Meta-GP program will develop and implement clinical metagenomic diagnostics for infectious diseases in Australia.

    • Public health genomics

      Molecular epidemiology of bacteria and viruses are an important component of outbreak investigations and can be used for analysis on global diversity of circulating strains. These projects apply whole genome sequencing techniques to characterise the transmission and evolution of pathogens of public health interest.  

    Research Groups
    • Williamson group

      The Williamson research group focuses on the development and evaluation of new diagnostic tests, and the translation of genomic technologies to infectious diseases. Their research has directly influenced the way microbiology is applied to clinical practice and public health, including responses to antimicrobial resistance, sexually-transmitted pathogens and COVID-19. 

      Lab Team

      Williamson group

      • Postdoctoral Fellow and Lab Manager
      • NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow
      • Postdoctoral Research Officer (Bioinformatics)
      • Dr Marilyn Ninan
        Research Fellow
      • Dr Eike Steinig
        Research Fellow (Bioinformatics)
      • Dr Soo Jen Low
        Research Officer (Bioinformatics)
      • George Taiaroa
        Research Fellow
      • Jacqueline Prestedge
        Research Program Officer
      • Socheata Chea
        Research Support Officer
      • Bowen Zhang
        Research Support Officer
      • Cheryll Sia
        PhD Graduate Researcher
      • Dr Eloise Williams
        PhD Graduate Researcher
      • Dr Katherine Bond
        PhD Graduate Researcher
      • Dr Charlotte Bell
        PhD Graduate Researcher
      • Franca Azzato
        PhD Graduate Researcher
      • Sophie Herman
        Research Assistant
      • Mona Lisa Taouk
        Research Assistant

Full University of Melbourne profile