Centenary’s Greg Fox wins top PhD prize for Vietnam TB research

Greg_FoxCongratulations to Dr Greg Fox who has won the annual Rita and John Cornforth Medal for the highest quality PhD thesis across the University of Sydney and for contributions to the University and broader community.

His PhD was completed at the Woolcock Institute in collaboration with Centenary Institute’s Tuberculosis (TB) Research Laboratory. 

For more than three years Greg, his GP wife and their young son have been living in Vietnam, where he has set up Centenary’s Vietnam studies, working on two major field projects contributing to the fight against TB.

Vietnam still has a significant problem with TB. Each year in that country about 54,000 die of the 290,000 people affected by TB. Typically, however, only one in ten people carrying the Mycobacteria tuberculosis bacterium becomes ill in the first place.

One of Greg’s projects has been to study the genetics of those affected by TB and those who are not, to compare the differences. A person’s genetics can increase TB susceptibility by about 30 to 40 per cent.

While the initial funding and support for these studies came through Centenary, Greg has continued them under the primary supervision of Prof Guy Marks of the Woolcock Institute with Prof Warwick Britton of Centenary as an associate supervisor.

Greg’s second project is a $1.3 million NHMRC-funded collaboration between the Centenary and Woolcock institutes and Vietnam’s National Tuberculosis Program. He has set up a controlled trial of active screening of the family members of active TB patients in 71 district clinics in eight provinces across Vietnam.

The Rita and John Cornforth Medal is named for the Australian organic chemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1975, and his research partner and wife. Both attended the University of Sydney. Both won scholarships in the same year to Oxford University in England, where they completed their doctorates and married.

This is the second year in a row that this prestigious prize has been awarded to a Centenary researcher, adding to last year’s achievement by Dr Jodi Ingles of Centenary’s Molecular Cardiology Laboratory. The Institute is proud that it continues to attract some of the University’s best and brightest students.

Greg has continued his outstanding success, and was recently awarded a prestigious NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship in 2013 to continue his research into TB .  Greg will spend the first 2 years of the 4 year fellowship at the Montreal Chest Clinic, and will continue his involvement in our ongoing projects in Vietnam, before returning to Australia. Greg is also an affiliate investigator in our NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Tuberculosis Control.

Centenary is also part of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence on tuberculosis control: from discovery to public health practice and policy – a collaborative program with colleagues from the University of Sydney, Woolcock Institute for Medical Research, University of Melbourne, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Please donate to StopTB at: www.tb.org.au

More Information:

Dr Fox’s report from the field in Vietnam: read his earlier blog post

Read more on the Centre of Research Excellence for tubercluosis control

Dr Jodie Ingles honoured with Rita and John Cornforth Medal