About

Lee is part of the One Health Research Group of senior and postdoctoral scientists and PhD students. Please see http://www.jcu.edu.au/cphmvs/public-health-tropical-medicine/JCU_107907.html  and https://www.facebook.com/onehealthresearchgroup for more information.

The group use methods from veterinary science, ecology, and biochemistry to investigate wildlife diseases that impact biodiversity, humans or livestock.

Lee commenced her PhD in 1995 at JCU and CSIRO AAHL,  with the aim of diagnosing the cause of the mysterious amphibian declines that were occurring in protected areas of Queensland.  She discovered chytridiomycosis, now recognised as the worst disease to impact biodiversity as it has caused hundreds of amphibian species to decline globally.  Since having 3 kids she has continued  research on this disease part time at JCU with her salary funded by an ARC postdoctoral fellowship and an ARC Future Fellowship. This has  enabled further discoveries on pathogenesis, distribution, disease ecology, diagnosis,  conservation management  and immunity resulting in over 95 publications, 8800 citations  and an H-index of 39.  Since 2017 she has been Associate Dean, Research for the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences.

We have opportunities for  PhD projects on immunity to chytridiomycosis.  Suitable candidates may have a  background in biology or vet science majoring in  immunology, disease ecology, microbiology, biochemistry, molecular biology or pathology. Please email me with any enquiries.

 

Interests
Research
  • Wildlife disease and its management, Amphibian pathology, Conservation
  • Amphibian chytridiomycosis, including pathogenesis, immunity, treatment, virulence, diagnosis and control
Experience
  • 2011 to present - ARC Future Fellow, JCU (Townsville)
  • 2004 to 2010 - ARC Aust Post Doc, JCU (Townsville)
  • 2002 to 2003 - Amphibian Pathologist, National Wildlife Health Centre (Madison, Wisconsin, USA)
  • 1994 to 1995 - Veterinarian, RSPCA (Melbourne)
Honours
Awards
  • 2016 - Tom Thorne and Beth Williams Memorial Award, awarded by the Wildlife Disease Association and the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians
  • 2009 - James Cook University Research Excellence Team Award to Wildlife Biosecurity Team
  • 2009 - Book dedication for contributions to research on amphibian decline : Amphibian Biology Vol 9. Amphibian Decline: diseases, parasites, maladies and pollution
  • 2007 - Ian Clunies Ross Award for academic veterinary achievement, from the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists
  • 2000 - CSIRO Medal for excellence in research, awarded to the Amphibian Disease Research Team
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
Current Funding

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

Crowdfunding Experiment.com - Crowdfunding

Can we stop amphibian extinction by increasing immunity to the frog chytrid fungus?

Indicative Funding
$8,000
Summary
As a result of the arrival of the chytrid fungus in Australia, corroboree frog populations declined so now only a handful of individuals remain in the wild. Since the fungus cannot be eradicated, the immunity of frogs needs to be increased to enable survival and produce self-sustaining populations. We will work with captive breeding programs to identify immune genes associated with disease resistance, so frogs can be selectively bred to increase survival.
Investigators
Lee Berger, Tiffany Kosch and Lee Skerratt in collaboration with Alexandra Roberts and Richard Webb (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Pseudophryne corroboree; Corroboree frog; Chytridiomycosis; Immunity; Sequencing

Australian Wildlife Society - University Student Grant

The role of serotonin in frog host response to chytridiomycosis

Indicative Funding
$1,500
Summary
Frog populations in Australia and globally have declined dramatically due to the spread of the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). It is important to understand how some frogs are able to resist Bd so that managers can use this knowledge to better protect threatened species. The goals of my project 1. to investigate molecules in frog skin that fight Bd infection and 2. To examine if antioxidants are involved in Bd's ability to evade the host defences.
Investigators
Sieara Claytor, Lee Berger, Alexandra Roberts and Lee Skerratt (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Amphibian disease; Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis; Virulence; Metabolites; Mycology; Microbiology

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Student Research Grant Scheme

Controlling chytridiomycosis: Characterising virulence factors from the frog-killing fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

Indicative Funding
$1,500
Summary
My research project aims to reduce the impacts of this invasive pathogen. By understanding how compounds produced by frog skin improve host resistance, I hope to develop targeted treatments that may be applied to wild or captive frogs, and produce information that could inform selective breeding programmes of highly endangered species. These programmes exist for several species in NSW and Victoria, as with the southern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree), and are being developed for Queensland species, such as the Kroombit Tinkerfrog (Taudactylus pleione). In the Wet Tropics, L. lorica only persists as two small isolated populations in drier forest that is inhospitable to Bd, whereas it previously mostly inhabited rainforest. Unless its innate resistance to infection can be improved, it will not be capable of recolonising the rainforest where Bd is thriving.
Investigators
Sieara Claytor, Lee Berger, Alexandra Roberts and Lee Skerratt (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Amphibian Disease; Virulence; Metabolites; Mycology; Microbiology; Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

QLD Department of Science, Information, Technology and Innovation - Advance Queensland Women's Academic Fund

New Methods To Protect Frogs From Chytridiomycosis

Indicative Funding
$13,000
Summary
Amphibians are under threat from the frog-killing fungus, which causes the fatal skin disease chytridiomycosis. My research investigates new methods to protect captive and wild frogs from chytridiomycosis, including testing new therapeutics and characterising virulence mechanisms of the pathogen. The Advance Queensland Women?s Academic Fund supports women in maintaining their research careers, and supports Queensland Organisations in promoting the achievements of Queensland?s female researchers. The funding can be used to employ a research assistant to continue research progress while on parental leave.
Investigators
Alexandra Roberts, Lee Berger and Richard Webb (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Chytrid Fungus; Amphibian Declines; Antifunal treatments; Molecular Biology

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Future Fellowships

Emergence and evolution of a multi-host pandemic: amphibian chytridiomycosis as a model

Indicative Funding
$705,832 over 4 years
Summary
Emerging infectious diseases are increasing and are an urgent global threat to humans, domestic animals and wildlife. My work has shown chytridiomycosis has spread globally causing amphibian declines and mass extinctions. This ongoing pandemic provides a unique opportunity and hence we will determine the main factors causing its emergence and how pathogen virulence and host immunity are evolving. This knowledge is crucial for national biosecurity - including disease prevention, risk prediction and planning intervention strategies. I aim to produce novel methods and knowledge which will help mitigate the impact of chytridiomycosis on endangered frogs and can be extended to protect biodiversity from the threat of disease.
Investigators
Lee Berger (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Virulence; Immunity; Emerging infectious disease; Chytridiomycosis
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
  • Controlling Chytridiomycosis: Characterizing immunosuppressants and mycoviruses from the frog-killing fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Viral Disease of Australian Reptiles: Agamid Adenovirus (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Investigation into the Population and Health Status of Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo {Oendrolagus lumholtzi) on the Atherton Tablelands, QLD (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Health and Conservation of Snow Leopards in Mongolia: A One Health Approach. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Development and Validation of a Model for Percutaneous Absorption in Frogs (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
  • 94.207, Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences (Townsville campus)
Advisory Accreditation
Primary Advisor
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  5. Dr Tiffany Kosch
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