Agricultural biosecurity is a top priority in Australia. The rise of zoonotic viral diseases has significant impacts on human health, agriculture, and global economies. The COVID-19 pandemic, the emergence of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) in southern Australia, and the looming risk of exotic Foot-and-mouth disease, lumpy skin disease, and African swine fever being introduced to Australian livestock highlights the severity of the threat posed by emerging viral pathogens to our society. It is crucial to address these challenges to safeguard our well-being and the agricultural sector.

The challenge

The global landscape presents increasing opportunities for the transmission of zoonotic viral threats to human health and livestock. In regional Australia, the interface between humans, livestock, domestic animals, and wildlife creates unique challenges and risks. Boom-and-bust events, such as droughts and floods, further enhance these viral threats to our agricultural industries. It is crucial to understand the disease mechanisms and address the transmission of pathogens like Hendra virus, avian influenza virus, lumpy skin disease virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, and other emerging or re-emerging viruses in our local and regional communities.

To safeguard our agricultural industry and address these challenges, collaboration and research capacity building are essential.

Our response

Gulbali Insitute has received a $4 million research grant from the Department of Education (DE) to establish a Training Hub promoting Regional Industry and Innovation in Virology and Epidemiology (THRIIVE). This will facilitate our capacity to play a key role in protecting our regional communities from zoonotic virusess such as Foot-and-mouth disease virus, JEV, avian influenza virus, swine-flu, Australian bat lyssavirus, Hendra virus, Nipah virus and African swine fever virus.

THRIIVE aims to foster over 15 partnerships and promote collaboration between Charles Sturt University, and Australia’s leading virology organisations the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, VIDRL, and various industry stakeholders. By addressing the specific challenges faced by regional research institutions, THRIIVE contributes to local, regional, and national priorities. Through these partnerships and collaborations, we are committed to advancing research and making a meaningful impact in the field of virology.

The goal

The goal of THRIIVE is to develop skills in agricultural epidemiology and virology to safeguard Australia's industries and communities against zoonotic and emerging viruses, particularly in regional Australia.

The program focuses on four key research pillars: Epidemiology and Disease Modelling, Molecular Virology, Translational Virology, and Rural and First Nations Community Engagement.

THRIIVE will assist in developing regional capacity and skills in agricultural epidemiology and disease modelling, molecular virology, and translational research. THRIIVE will also boost regional public engagement with and understanding of virology by hosting public seminars, school outreach, and other interactive events.

Ultimately, THRIIVE seeks to enhance research capacity, develop new tools for disease modeling, and advance vaccine, diagnostic, and therapeutic development to protect the agricultural industry and promote innovation, economic competitiveness, and social change.

THRIIVE and its partners will access world-class facilities through Monash University, UoM, the Australian synchrotron, CSIRO Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP), and other leading national and international organisations. THRIIVE partners assisting in Rural and First Nations Community Engagement include Gulaay, and National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP). Partnership with First Nations bodies will ensure appropriate culturally competent mentorship and training of THRIIVE students and staff, as well as embedding respect for First Nations cultural property rights in any emergent intellectual property.

Our team

Principal scientist

portrait of Professor Jade Forwood
Professor Jade Forwood
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Our research team

portrait of Professor Marta Hernandez-Jover
Professor Marta Hernandez-Jover
Epidemiology and Disease Modelling pillar lead
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portrait of Professor Shane Raidal
Professor Shane Raidal
Translational Virology pillar lead
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portrait of Professor Sharanne Raidal
Professor Sharanne Raidal
Equine Medicine
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portrait of Professor Kris Hughes
Professor Kris Hughes
Equine Medicine
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portrait of Associate Professor Seyed Ali Ghorashi
Associate Professor Seyed Ali Ghorashi
Intensive Animal Health and Production
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portrait of Associate Professor Andrew Peters
Associate Professor Andrew Peters
Wildlife Health and Pathology
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portrait of Dr Justin Roby
Dr Justin Roby
Rural and First Nations Community Engagement pillar lead
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portrait of Dr Brian McSharry
Dr Brian McSharry
Molecular Virologist
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portrait of Dr Thiru Vanniasinkam
Dr Thiru Vanniasinkam
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portrait of Dr David Leaver
Dr David Leaver
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portrait of Dr Martin Pal
Dr Martin Pal
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portrait of Dr Shubhagata Das
Dr Shubhagata Das
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portrait of Associate Professor Jane Heller
Associate Professor Jane Heller
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Our partners

Connect and collaborate

We are looking for researchers, students, funding and partners to help take our research to the next level.