Duration: February 2018 – December 2022

Funding Source:  Pathology Queensland – Study, Education and Research Committee

Chief investigators: Graeme Nimmo, David Whiley, Amy Jennison, Haakon Bergh

Masters Student: Sharon Biggs


To determine the value of using whole genome sequencing as a tool to better understand Staphylococcus aureus infection and transmission in children with cystic fibrosis in Queensland.


Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium to which children with cystic fibrosis are particularly vulnerable.  Infection with Staphylococcus aureus can cause serious lung disease and potentially be fatal for these patients in the absence of effective treatment.  Unfortunately, these infections can be difficult to treat.

Key clinical challenges include:

  • Staphylococcus aureus is often resistant to multiple antibiotics.  It can also develop resistance after patients are treated with antibiotics.
  • Antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus have spread beyond the hospital environment into the wider community, which may place children with cystic fibrosis at even greater risk of acquiring resistant infections.
  • Our understanding of Staphylococcus aureus transmission in children with cystic fibrosis is somewhat limited and warrants further investigation to help minimise the spread of infection.


Whole genome sequencing has the potential to provide detailed information on Staphylococcus aureus transmission.  This study will enable Queensland Health to work towards using this tool to determine the types, monitor the presence, and ultimately help prevent the spread of Staphylococcus aureus amongst children with cystic fibrosis in Queensland.

Project members

Associate Professor David Whiley

Principal Research Fellow
UQ Centre for Clinical Research
Theme Leader for Infectious diseases

Ms Sharon Biggs

PhD student
UQ Centre for Clinical Research