Western Sydney researchers unlocking pandemic puzzle to help save lives

The Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) and NSW Health Pathology’s Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (ICPMR) genomics team have worked tirelessly through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The teams have used cutting edge technology and expertise to deliver scientific breakthroughs that have provided the cornerstone of disease detection and management to keep us safe.

Their efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have saved thousands of lives, prevented further outbreaks and recently saw the ICPMR team recognised with the NSW Health Secretary’s Award for Integrated Value Based Care.

NSW Health Pathology’s ICPMR team at Westmead Hospital conducts world-class public health and research, working closely with colleagues at the Westmead Institute of Medical Research and the University of Sydney.

Together, their combined research made it possible to allow tracing of COVID-19 transmission, fast identification of variants of concern and timely detection of drug resistance in new variants as they emerged during the peak of the pandemic.

At its core, this work was about collaboration, taking innovative laboratory work and pulling together different pieces of health data to discover new ways to control the world-changing pandemic as it happened.

We’ve pulled together as a team and undertaken something that hadn’t been done in NSW before to inform pandemic control and responses,” said ICPMR’s genomic epidemiologist, Dr Alicia Arnott.

NSW Health Pathology’s director of public health pathology and ICPMR, Professor Dominic Dwyer, said that this has been the biggest emergency in infectious diseases for the last 100 years. 

“We’re talking about millions and millions of infections around the world; this work has been critically important,” said Professor Dwyer.

“There are a lot of people doing a lot of work and a lot of hours to benefit the health of people in NSW and keep our community safe.

“The (award-winning) ICPMR genomics team are the unsung heroes.”

The ICPMR genomics team