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Dr Olivia Smibert a top ranked researcher

13 March 2020

Austin Health Infectious Diseases Physician, Dr Olivia Smibert, has been named the 2019 National Health and Medical Research Council's top ranked applicant in the Clinical Medicine and Science Research Category.

Olivia was awarded the Gustav Nossal Postgraduate Scholarship Award in Canberra at a gala dinner on Wednesday evening and said she was shocked by the recognition.

"It's been very humbling and a lovely endorsement for a project I think is exciting," she said.

"It brings credibility and legitimacy and is a motivator to keep going."

The support and the enthusiasm from the ID Unit and project supervisors had also been wonderful.

"They have encouraged me all the way," she said.

Oliva's PhD will focus on the microbiome in both solid and liquid transplant recipients and what the risks of infection are as well as the preventatives to infection.

Infectious Diseases Associate Professor, Dr Jason Trubiano, said the project was likely to find novel ways to manipulate the patient's microbiome to improve their transplant outcomes and reduce infection risks.

"This work is putting Austin Health at the forefront of microbiome research," he said.

NHMRC's judging criteria was based on the applicant's merit, the merit of the PhD itself and the environment in which it will be undertaken.

Olivia's submission was chosen by the NHMRC as the highest ranked overall in Australia for medicine and science.

"I hope the project leads to lots of collaboration," Olivia said.

It's expected the PhD will take three years to complete and Olivia hopes there will be research outputs in two years.

The NHMRC is Australia's peak funding body for medical research.

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