Surfwear founder’s charity backs UQ researcher in superbug war

25 Mar 2015

A University of Queensland researcher waging a war on antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been awarded a $360,000 fellowship from a charitable foundation established by the businessman who founded the Billabong surfwear company.

Mr Gordon Merchant’s Merchant Charitable Foundation has awarded a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to help PhD student Hosam Zowawi develop his superbug rapid detection method for clinical use globally.

Mr Zowawi, from the UQ Centre for Clinical Research, has been awarded the Fellowship as part of the Merchant Charitable Foundation’s commitment to encourage and support promising young researchers.

“Having this support will further enhance our productivity to help combat infectious diseases, particularly those caused by superbugs,” Mr Zowawi said.

“It will allow us to expand and translate our research initiated from my PhD project, to become practices and products that will hopefully improve patient outcome and prevent future superbug epidemics,” he said.

UQ Centre for Clinical Research infection group head Professor David Paterson said Mr Zowawi was one of the most talented and innovative scientists he had ever worked with.

“This new test allows superbugs to be detected in just three to four hours, rather than the more traditional methods, which take between 48 and 72 hours.” he said.

“The fellowship will greatly assist Hosam in validating his discoveries and translating these into methods used to detect superbugs across the world.”

Mr Zowawi is passionate about educating the public on antibiotic resistance risks and prevention.

“Our local and global communities play a critical role in combating superbugs,” Mr Zowawi said.

“Through creative educational campaigns we will educate people about the importance of using antibiotics wisely to ultimately preserve their value and effectiveness.”

Merchant Charitable Foundation chairman Luke McGrath said the foundation was proud to support the globally significant work being done by Mr Zowawi and the UQ Centre for Clinical Research team.

“We believe it is vitally important to be able to support the work of early stage researchers as they are the up-and-coming researchers of tomorrow,” he said.

“We are delighted that this postdoctoral fellowship ensures Hosam Zowawi has the support to continue this extremely important research.”

Mr Zowawi’s research has attracted several awards in the past year. Read about them herehere and here.

Media: Chelsey Parish, UQCCR Communications, +61 7 3346 6041,