Associate Professor Justin Denholm is one of our many impressive TB CRE chief investigators. Justin is based in the Doherty Institute, and is the Medical Director of the Victorian Tuberculosis Program. More information about Justin's achievements and contributions to the global fight against TB can be found here - but who is he really and what inspires his work in Tuberculosis? We spoke to Justin this month to get the scoop!
What first inspired you to pursue TB research? I came to TB research from clinical medicine background, and that meant that I’ve got quite practical motivations. I realised as I was training how much damage TB caused around the world, and that I wanted to use the advantages that we have in Australia for the benefit of people around the world. I have to admit that I’m also partial to the historical perspective, and so I also love the idea of working in an area with a long tradition. It’s compelling to think that our generation can shape the future of a TB epidemic that’s measured best in centuries. In one sentence, what do you consider to be the greatest challenge to global TB elimination? Sustained political and community will to see a world free of the pain and suffering caused by tuberculosis. What is the coolest thing you’re working on right now? At this point in my (mid-)career, I’m starting to see how we do more than just work on one project, but tell a bigger story by bringing together research efforts over many years. For me, the coolest story that I’m working on is one of TB elimination - who will get TB, how can we stop that happening, what are the tools we need, how much will it cost, how can we engage politicians and Australian communities in the urgency of moving towards elimination? There’s no one piece of research or single publication that will accomplish that, but I’m really excited about how the CRE is driving a much wider body of investigation that will continue to build the answers to those questions. I’m inspired by that story, and I feel very privileged to contribute to it with you. TB aside, what is the coolest thing you’ve ever done in your life? I spent my birthday once sitting on the top of Victoria Falls, in Zambia - in the water, looking down at the spray at the bottom while little fish bit my feet. There was a lightning storm starting up in the distance, and even at the time I was very aware that this would be the coolest thing ever to happen in my life! What words of wisdom would you give to our budding student TB-CRE members as they begin their TB research journey? Being part of the CRE is a great chance to spread your intellectual wings – so please be open to unexpected collaborations and interesting new directions! We hope that this will be an inspiring group for you to be a part of, and we’re very grateful for the contribution you’re making to it.