A new research project will focus on what to do with the first clinical cases in future pandemics.

Almost $1.6 million will fund a range of national collaborative projects through a five-year Centre of Research Excellence called the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Diseases Emergencies (APPRISE).

Professor Sharon Lewin, lead investigator for APPRISE, said the projects are all focused on research needed for essential and practical improvements to Australia’s emergency response to infectious diseases.

“Every new infectious disease outbreak is unpredictable and presents a new set of challenges,” she said.

“This round of projects includes development of streamlined methods to study the first clinical cases in an infectious disease outbreak so that policy makers and health workers can make the best possible public health decisions.”

Professor Lewin said some projects also seek to understand how best to respond to a new infectious disease with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, especially during early critical phases of an outbreak.

“Several of the projects are working towards improving preparedness for influenza pandemics, including through a global research platform to share protocols, tools and information with researchers around the world,” she said.

Professor Tania Sorrell, Director of Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity at the University of Sydney and APPRISE investigator, said the projects are also an excellent way to build on the skills of people from a range of backgrounds, including clinician researchers.

“This funding will provide salary support for early career researchers and students and will build Australia’s infectious disease workforce as well as filling critical gaps in knowledge,” said Professor Sorrell.

“For example, we will fund a hospital-based research team to better detect and characterise infectious diseases in travellers and to use new interactive techniques to improve the use of personal protective equipment.”

Project and grant titles have been published on the APPRISE website.