Dr Matthew Grigg
Menzies School of Health Research
Plasmodium knowlesi is a monkey malaria parasite that increasingly infects humans throughout Southeast Asia, and can cause severe disease and death. In the first ever trial for the treatment of non-severe knowlesi malaria, Dr Grigg showed that an antimalarial drug called artemisinin-combination therapy (ACT) worked better than chloroquine. People treated with ACT cleared the parasites from their blood more quickly, their fever resolved earlier, there was less risk of low red blood cells and they were discharged from hospital promptly. I also showed that ACT worked well against a malaria species called P. vivax, a type of malaria that is often resistant to treatment with chloroquine. As knowlesi malaria is often confused with other types of human malaria when diagnosing patients blood under the microscope, using ACT to treat all species of malaria in Malaysia will avoid treating malaria resistant to chloroquine. These studies have changed Malaysian national treatment policy, and will be included in the World Health Organization malaria treatment guidelines. His team were also the first to compare severe and non-severe knowlesi malaria to other species, with results now included in the WHO severe malaria guidelines.
Matt was an invited speaker at the University of Melbourne medical students conference in May 2017, promoting careers in remote Indigenous health, using his experiences of tropical medicine research and the importance of learning a language to inspire them to work or volunteer in developing countries overseas. Matt continues to be involved in the Mary Magdalene Reproductive Initiative, an organisation in Jos, Nigeria he helped to found when previously conducting HIV research overseas in female sex workers in Nigeria. Locally, he is an active member of the Environment Centre NT.