Dr Kirsty Short
University of Queensland
For most people the flu is a relatively mild illness. Symptoms include things like a fever, muscle ache and dry cough; all of which resolve within a few weeks. However, people with underlying health conditions (such as asthma, obesity and diabetes) suffer from much more severe flu infections than people with no underlying illness. However, at present we do not understand how these conditions can increase the severity of the flu. This lack of understanding severely impairs our ability to protect and treat these vulnerable patient groups. Dr Short’s research seeks to define the mechanisms by which asthma, obesity and diabetes increase the severity of the flu, in the hope that by understanding these mechanisms we will be able to design new drugs to reduce the flu in the growing number of people living with these conditions.
Kirsty was responsible for developing and performing ‘Audio G-casts’ in Melbourne, designed for students in remote areas to ensure that geographic distances did not limit their scientific education. She has since been interviewed on the ABC’s Science Show and Life Matters programs. She also ran a ‘vaccination café’ which provided the general public information about the importance of vaccination on the 2016 Day of Immunology.