Applied Medical Health - Andrew Taylor-Robinson

Get to know Andrew Taylor-Robinson

CQUniversity provides a welcoming home to postgraduate students in a strategically aligned, well-funded and thriving science ‘culture’.

Applied Medical Health / Professor Andrew Taylor-Robinson

Personal experience

As an undergraduate, I studied medical microbiology, the branch of medical science concerned with our relationship with microscopic organisms and the harmful, as well as beneficial, impacts they have on our lives. This fostered an early passion for pathogenic microbes, those that cause disease in humans.

During this time I developed an interest in immunology, the immune response to infection, so I combined the two in my PhD studies, which looked at host immunity to Plasmodium, the blood-dwelling parasite that causes malaria. For 20 years, my research followed a relatively narrow path investigating malaria pathogen-host interactions, with the aim of dissecting protective-versus-pathological immune responses in order to inform malaria vaccine development.

Since coming to CQUniversity, my focus has broadened to encompass other mosquito-transmitted tropical infectious diseases, especially those of relevance to regional and rural communities in this country. These include dengue, Zika and a range of viruses that can only be found in Australia, and for which native animals act as reservoir hosts. While most of these are currently relatively obscure, improved methods of surveillance, diagnosis and control are required to combat what we believe is a growing threat of debilitating disease outbreak in Northern Australia.

I came to CQUniversity in 2012 looking for a new challenge. When I arrived, I was aware of its impressive reputation for community engagement and innovative, student-focused teaching. What I did not appreciate at the time was the great opportunity coming here has also provided in enabling me to expand my research portfolio.

Now, I am investigating the impact of a variety of pathogens on human health and wellbeing, not only in countries overseas but at home in rural Queensland. This is harnessing the power of place to collaborate on a number of diverse projects of regional relevance, including: bacterial infections of the upper respiratory tract, contributing to middle ear inflammation; dengue fever epidemiology; and transmission cycles of indigenous Australian arboviruses, such as those that cause Ross River fever and Murray Valley encephalitis; and e-Health solutions in remote regions.

As I have many years’ experience of tissue and cell culture, I even supervise a project to enhance in vitro fertilization techniques in cattle, something I would not have considered before setting foot in the beef capital of Australia.

Research at CQUniversity: Applied Medical Health

As CQUniversity is Australia’s largest regional university, there are opportunities for undertaking cutting-edge research across the whole of the country. Within the School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, research-active staff are located on all of the major campuses in Queensland and beyond, so each of these provides a thriving research hub for undertaking applied medical health research.

CQUniversity has an expanding research profile across the breadth of applied medical health that reflects a network of distinct, yet interrelated, interests of its academic staff in medical laboratory and clinical sciences. Among others, topics include immunology, medical microbiology, haematology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology, nanotechnology, toxicology, nutrition, clinical laboratory science and paramedic science.

Much of the research that is performed has a strongly applied purpose that yields directly applicable, practical, real-life benefits, for instance in the form of new treatments and standards of care for local, national and international communities.

CQUniversity is a fantastic place to do research, both as a member of academic staff and as a postgraduate research student. The vibrant research community allied to a growing research culture provides a first-class environment for students undertaking a Masters or PhD research project. This is complemented by a student-centred research office that provides tremendous administrative and pastoral support and research infrastructure.

The RHD program in applied medical health is carefully designed to enable students to make an original, significant and extensive contribution to knowledge and understanding in their chosen field of study. This nurtures postgraduate students to take the all-important first steps into developing as world-class researchers, allowing graduates to work towards the improvement of communities and industries at local, national and international levels.

The extensive experience of RHD project supervision – matched by the authoritative standing in their respective research fields – of the academic staff in applied medical health facilitates excellent opportunities to complete postgraduate studies as part of leading research teams. Aside from the immense personal satisfaction of gaining a well-earned postgraduate degree, performing research is an intrinsically rewarding pursuit.

The RHD journey is long and sometimes arduous – it requires ability, aptitude and application – but for which you will be amply rewarded, both by the pure joy of performing research and, ultimately, a successful degree outcome. CQUniversity provides a welcoming home to postgraduate students in a strategically aligned, well-funded and thriving science 'culture'. I would encourage anyone who is interested in undertaking RHD research in applied medical health to get in touch.

Current research projects

The reputation of CQUniversity for research in applied medical science is growing year on year, and has been classified as ‘well above world-class’. There are acknowledged peaks of excellence, including my own discipline, but, importantly, research strengths exist across all areas of activity. This success story reflects the rapidly increasing research reputation of the University as a whole, which is now a recognized leader in research among regional universities in this country. This can be seen in its rise up the world university rankings over the past few years.

Our research strategy is linked to the allied health and medical needs of individuals and families living in regional and rural communities in Queensland (and, increasingly, across Australia and the world). As a research focus within the School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, but with strong collaborative links to the School of Nursing and Midwifery, and to the School of Engineering and Technology, researchers in applied medical health are committed to finding better ways to improve health and to transform care in the community.

Research career highlights

My work on malaria immunity is acknowledged both within my research community and in a mainstream immunology context as contributing significantly to a greater understanding of the host immune response during pathogenic infection. This includes elucidating mechanisms of protective immunity to blood-stage malaria, infection with which causes a million human deaths each year.

Importantly, a clear understanding of the immune response is critical to a successful strategy for malaria vaccine design, a global public health priority. Moreover, this has had a wider significance in establishing or extending novel paradigms for the general disciplines of immunity to infectious diseases and of immune response regulation. It continues to be well cited in the literature, which is an indication of ongoing relevance and lasting impact.

I am a third generation medical microbiologist so I caught the research bug at an early age – I started looking down a microscope at six! Whether it was the influence of nature or nurture I cannot say, but I have never considered an alternative career.

Explore more about current research at CQUni’s School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences.