About

With interests in both laboratory based research and education, A/Prof Brenda Govan was also Head of Biomedicine until December 2017.  She is a member of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, and the Centre for Molecular Therapeutics.

Her research interests are focussed on bacterial infections relevant to the tropics.  Primary areas of interest are in the disease Q-fever, caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii, Daintree ulcer/Buruli ulcer caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans and the emerging issue of antibiotic resistance

Q fever is usually acquired through occupational exposure of humans with animals such as cattle, goats and sheep.  The resultant infection may lead to a respiratory condition and pneumonic symptoms.  Our work looks at the changing epidemiology of Q fever and its apparent association with native wildlife.  As communities encroach further into bushland, increasing exposure to and contact with these animals will become more significant.

Daintree ulcer is a neglected tropical disease for which neither the environmental reservoir, nor the mode of transmission to humans has been identified.  Infection results in a necrotising condition of the skin and soft tissue. The disease is widespread in parts of Africa (Buruli), but interestingly northern Australia also has an endemic region around the Daintree.

Antimicrobial resistance is becoming one of the biggest threats to both human and animal health today. It can affect anyone, of any age, and in any country, and can lead to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and death.  Our research is interested in looking at the changing trends of antibiotic resistance patterns in northern QLD, and the molecular mechanisms that underlie this emergence.

Teaching
  • BM1000: Introductory Biochemistry and Microbiology (Level 1; TSV)
  • BM1003: Biomedicine in the Tropics (Level 1; TSV)
  • BM3000: Advanced Projects in Biomedicine (Level 3; TSV)
  • MD3000: Selective Study (Level 3; TSV)
  • MD3012: Introduction to Clinical Healthcare Part 2 of 2 (Level 3; TSV)
  • MI3051: Mechanisms of Infectious Diseases (Level 3; TSV)
  • MI5051: Mechanisms of Infectious Diseases (Level 5; TSV)
  • TV1102: Cell Biology and Biochemistry for Veterinary Science and Agriculture (Level 1; TSV)
Interests
Research
  • Changing transmission patterns and epidemiology of Q Fever in Australia
  • The role of wildlife in zoonotic diseases
  • The epidemiology of Mycobacterium ulcerans (Buruli ulcer)
  • The molecular mechanisms of antibiotic resistance
Experience
  • 2014 to 2017 - Head Biomedicine, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2005 to 2013 - Senior Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2001 to 2004 - Lecturer Microbiology, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2000 to 2001 - Research Fellow, University of Warwick (United Kingdon)
  • 1996 to 1999 - Research Fellow, University of Queensland (North QLD Clinical School)
Socio-Economic Objectives
Honours
Awards
  • 2012 - Faculty Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning, James Cook University
  • 2007 - Level 1 Post-graduate Supervisor, JCU
Memberships
  • 2011 - Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities
  • 2010 - Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia
  • 1994 - Australian Society of Microbiology
  • 2011 to 2016 - Chair Biomedicine Teaching and Learning Committee, JCU
  • 2007 to 2012 - New York Academy of Sciences
  • 2005 to 2012 - Australian Society of Medical Research
Other
  • 2015 to 2017 - Head Biomedicine
  • 2012 to 2014 - Director of Biomedicine, JCU
  • 2007 to 2014 - Head of Microbiology and Immunology, JCU
Publications

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
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ResearchOnline@JCU stores 45+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Brenda Govan from 2004 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Townsville City Council - Contract Research

Assessment of the ecological risk of emerging contaminants released from the Cleveland Bay Purification Plant

Indicative Funding
$312,128 over 6 years
Summary
Discharge from the Cleveland Bay Purification plant (CBPP) is via ocean pipeline into Cleveland Bay and falls within the jurisdiction of the Qld State Marine Park Authority (QSMPA). A planned CBPP membrane upgrade has initiated a QSMPA operational permit, issued in December 2017., requiring Townsville city council to develop an Effluent Quality Assessment Program. The assessment program is to be developed under the guidance of a Special Technical Advisory Group (STAG) and should include effluent sampling of new and emerging contaminants, as identified in the Tropical water quality hub's NESP report (2015). This includes but is not limited to heavy metals, various organics (hydrocarbons, pharmaceuticals, poly-aromatics and personal care products) and micro-plastics. The assessment program's objective is to identify and prioritise emerging contaminants based on estimation of the current and longer-term ecological risk to the receiving environment.
Investigators
Madoc Sheehan and Brenda Govan in collaboration with Jochen Mueller, Anna Whelan, Ellen Ariel, Stephen Lewis, Edgar Salvador and Neil Mattocks (College of Science & Engineering, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, The University of Queensland, Townsville City Council, TropWATER, Queensland Department of National Parks and Sport and Racing)
Keywords
Emerging contaminants; Environmental Impact; Risk Assessment; Water Treatment

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Award

Investigation of potential environmental reservoirs of Mycobacterium ulcerans in North Queensland

Indicative Funding
$10,100 over 4 years
Summary
This project aims to investigate the existence of potential reservoirs of M. ulcerans in North Queensland. A clear understanding of these reservoirs will help in determining the mode of transmission of M. ulcerans and hence in controlling current and future epidemics.
Investigators
Avishek Singh, John McBride and Brenda Govan (College of Medicine & Dentistry, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Mycobacterium Ulcerans; Reservoir; North Queensland; Environmental

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Identifying bacterial communities and antibiotic sensitivities for bacteria isolated from Indigenous Australian diabetic foot ulcers.

Indicative Funding
$3,000
Summary
Diabetes is a major cause of death and disability and continues to increase in epidemic proportions within the Indigenous Aboriginal Community. Despite advancements in the treatment of diabetes, many individuals develop additional significant complications such as diabetic foot ulcers infected with bacteria, which ultimately lead to amputation or septicaemia for many Indigenous Australians. As antibiotic resistance increases within our community this problem is only going to worsen. This study capitalises on the northern tropical location of JCU, with its strong Indigenous Australian community and debilitating bacterial pathogens. This study will assess the current level of antibiotic resistance in bacterial communities on local feet with and without ulcers to set a baseline for future interventional studies designed to reduce amputation and septicaemia in Indigenous Australians with type 2 diabetes.
Investigators
Paula Clancy and Brenda Govan (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Type 2 Diabetes; ulcers; Antibiotic resistance; Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander; Wound Healing; Bacteriophage
Supervision

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

Current
  • Mechanisms Driving Tuberculosis Susceptibility and Vaccine Efficacy in Type-2-Diabetes (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • Investigation of Potential Environmental Reservoirs of Mycobacterium Ulcerans in North Queensland. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Assessment of the Ecological Risk of Emerging Contaminants Released from the Cleveland Bay Purification Plant (CBPP) (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
Completed
Collaboration

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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Email
Phone
Location
  • 48.105, AITHM (Townsville campus)
Advisory Accreditation
Advisor Mentor (P)
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