Dr Lea-Ann Stirling Kirkham
The University of Western Australia
Research Field: Medical Microbiology
Dr Kirkham’s research interests lie in identifying the bacteria responsible for pneumonia, meningitis and middle ear disease, assessing current vaccination strategies for these diseases and developing improved vaccines. Currently she focuses on the causes of OM in Australian children and understanding why some children are more susceptible to ear infections than others. She was the first to show that the predominant cause of OM in Australia is the bacterium nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi).
This contributed to introduction of a new NTHi-based vaccine to Australia with the potential to
reduce the high levels of ear disease that exists within Aboriginal communities. She has been interviewed for Microbe World in America and was featured online in WA today. She has also trained laboratory staff in Papua New Guinea and spoken to undergraduate students about to post-doctorial opportunites in WA. Lee-Ann was the co-convenor of the inaugural Australian Otitis Media workshop in 2010 which brought together 70 Australian researchers to facilitate discussion and collaboration on ear disease research.