21 Aug 2023

Meet Fernando Gordillo Altamirano

Dr Fernando Gordillo Altamirano completed his medical training in his native Ecuador, but knew that he wanted to pursue a career in research rather than clinical practice. That decision brought him to Australia, where he completed further study including a Masters degree and PhD before joining Central Clinical School’s Department of Infectious Diseases as a postdoctoral researcher last year. 

Can you tell us about your work?

I kill superbugs! Superbugs are bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. They are increasingly common in hospitals, where they can infect the most vulnerable patients, and doctors struggle to treat these infections. I work on a method called phage therapy. Phages are viruses: good viruses! Instead of harming or killing human cells, phages only kill bacteria. So, we can treat superbug infections using these viruses, killing the bacteria and saving the patients.

How did you become interested in phage research?

As I was ‘shopping around’ for PhD projects, I met my eventual supervisor, a world leader in phage research: Associate Professor Jeremy Barr of Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences. Before that, I had only briefly learned about phages but had never imagined we could use them to treat infections in humans. Jeremy’s passion ignited my love for phages. It’s thrilling to be working in research where I can apply my medical knowledge and my laboratory expertise simultaneously. 

Promotion and new appointment for epilepsy

Congratulations to Dr Andrew Neal, who has been appointed to succeed Professor Patrick Kwan as Director of Epilepsy, Alfred Health, and also promoted to Associate Professor.

Associate Professor Neal joined Alfred Health and Central Clinical School in 2019 as a consultant Neurologist and Epileptologist, lead for the Alfred Advanced Epilepsy Surgery Program and as a research fellow in CCS’s Department of Neuroscience. He also served as Deputy Director of Epilepsy at Alfred Health from 2020. 

A/Prof Neal is a national leader in advanced epilepsy surgery, in particular stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG). SEEG involves the surgical implantation of electrodes into the brain to understand the role of brain networks in the pathophysiology of drug-resistant epilepsy and its associated neurocognitive deficits.

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