About

Dr Lee Skerratt is the Associate Dean of Research within the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences. He is a Senior Research Fellow and Team Leader of the One Health Research Group at James Cook University. Previously he was a Senior Lecturer within the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at JCU teaching parasitology and epidemiology. Before that he was a Research Associate at the National Wildlife Health Center, USA and the University of Wisconsin. He was an inaugural member of the interim management committee of Wildlife Health Australia and helped found the organisation,  member of the Australian Wildlife Health Network Management Committee representing the Australasian Section of the Wildlife Disease Association and Chair of the Universities Focus Group within the Australian Wildlife Health Network. He was also the President of the Epidemiology Chapter of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists, the chair of the International Wildlife Disease Association Conference “Wildlife Health in a Shrinking World: Ecology, Conservation and Management” in Cairns 2005 and the past chair of the Australasian Section of the Wildlife Disease Association. He graduated BVSc, BAnSc and PhD from the University of Melbourne and MACVSc from the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Epidemiology.  His research interests are in the field of epidemiology and pathogenesis of infectious diseases and zoonoses of free-living animals and livestock. He currently has 150 published or in press articles: 5 book chapters, 2 theses, 135 journal articles and 8 government reports. He supervises 12 PhD students and has had 11 complete their PhD since 2005. In the past ten years he has managed grants totaling 6 million dollars Australian in funding from category 1 research institutions such as the Australian Research Council (two current grants), Australian Cooperative Research Centres Program, Rural Industries Research Development Corporation (1 current grant), and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and industry (4 current grants).

Current industry partners include the Australian, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmanian and Western Australian Governments, Taronga  and Melbourne Zoo and Wildlife Health Australia. Current research collaborators include Harvard University, Cornell University, UC Berkeley, University of San Francisco, Vanderbilt University, University of Rochester, Imperial College London, University of Gent, Seoul National University, Ecohealth Alliance, Zoological Society of London, University of Melbourne, Australian National University, Griffith University, University of Queensland, QIMR (Berghofer), University of Sydney and the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (CSIRO).

Lee’s recent work has determined the risk factors for emergence of avian influenza from waterfowl in northern Australia (Hoque at al. 2015), that transmission of Hendra virus relies mostly on direct transmission and not virus survival in the environment (Plowright et al. 2015, Martin et al. 2015) and that most emerging diseases of wildlife are driven by a lack of global biosecurity (Tompkins et al 2015). He discovered  the first case of Australian bat lyssavirus in bats (Speare et al 2007, Skerratt et al. 1998) and published the first study of the epidemiology of echinococcosis in wallabies, its main intermediate host, in Australia (Banks et al. 2006). Echinococcosis (hydatid disease) is an important zoonotic disease in Australia and overseas.

Lee has shown that the spread of the amphibian chytrid fungus has caused the global decline and extinction of frogs (Skerratt et al. 2007) which was recently acknowledged by the World Organisation for Animal Health when they made it a notifiable disease. He has shown that sarcoptic mange is an important disease in common wombats, Vombatus ursinus, that may cause the extinction of small isolated wombat populations (Skerratt 2005). He has identified pathogens that may be contributing to the decline of 10 of the 15 species of sea ducks in North America (Skerratt et al. 2005). In addition to contributing to our understanding of the impact and control of wildlife diseases impacting biodiversity he has worked on those impacting human health and domestic animals such as avian influenza (major CRC  project), Australian bat lyssavirus, echinococcosis, scabies and Hendra virus (major RIRDC project). Lee has had major projects on control of livestock diseases  while at JCU, including fasciolosis (liver fluke, major ACIAR project)  and surra (an animal disease like sleeping sickness which threatens Australia's biosecurity, major CRC project). 

He leads a One Health Research Group together with another senior research fellow (Australian Research Council Future Fellow Lee Berger who won the CSIRO medal for science as a PhD student at JCU in 2001 for her discovery of the cause of global amphibian decline, the amphibian chytrid fungus), a Queensland accelerate research fellow, three postdoctoral scientists and a long term research assistant (Ms Rebecca Webb)  and 13 PhD students. The One Health Research Group was officially formed in 2010 but had been operating at JCU since at least the 1990s when Rick Speare started using public health and veterinary science methodology to solve the problem of enigmatic amphibian declines (Laurance et al 1996). The One Health Research Group continues to use multidisciplinary approaches to help identify emerging diseases and provide holistic solutions to mitigate their impact (Skerratt et al 2009, Murray et al 2012). Our research group investigates the causes and control of infectious diseases in people, their domestic animals and wildlife that impacts human health, domestic animal health and biodiversity.The group provides advice on infectious disease issues to the general public, private companies, state and national governments and international bodies such as the WHO, OIE and IUCN which informs policy and management. It is a member of the James Cook University level 1 research centers, Biosecurity and Tropical Infectious Diseases in the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine and the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance and Wildlife Health Australia.

Please see 

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lee_Skerratt/publications

and for more information on the One Health Research Group.

http://www.jcu.edu.au/cphmvs/public-health-tropical-medicine/JCU_107907.html and https://www.facebook.com/onehealthresearchgroup 

Teaching
  • TV1002: Veterinary Professional Life 2 (Level 1; TSV)
Interests
Professional
  • Regional Chair: IUCN/SSC Wildlife Health Specialist Group for Australia – New Zealand and South Pacific; Member: Management Committee of the Australian Wildlife Health Network; Member: Universities Focus Group of the Australian Wildlife Health Network; Member: Bat Health Focus Group of the Australian Wildlife Health Network; Member: Scientific Advisory Committee of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program; Member: Wildlife Disease Association; Member: Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists; Associate Editor: Diseases of Aquatic Organisms and Parasites and Wildlife, IJP
Research
  • Wildlife and animal health/disease affecting biodiversity, agriculture and human health (One Health); Tropical zoonoses; Public health; Veterinary epidemiology; Veterinary and medical parasitology
Teaching
  • Supervision of HDR students; Guest lecturer for postgraduate subjects in Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine degree at JCU such as TM5525:03 Communicable Disease Control. Previously when a Senior Lecturer at JCU Undergraduate Subjects TV2001 Integrated animal structure and function (Veterinary epidemiology) 2007, TV2002 Integrated animal structure and function (Veterinary epidemiology and veterinary parasitology) 2007, HS1000 Epidemiology (Subject coordinator) 2004-2007, PP3021 Applied Physiology (Experimental design) 2004-2007, ZL3205 Wildlife Ecology and Management (Wildlife epidemiology) 2005-2007, MI 2011 Microbial Diversity (Parasitology) 2004-2006, MI 3021 Clinical Microbiology (Parasitology) 2004-2006, MI 3051 Mechanisms of Infectious Disease (Parasitology) 2004-2006, MD1006 Gastrointestinal Medicine and Nutrition (Evidence Based Medicine) 2004, Postgraduate Subjects MI5000/TV5040 Epidemiology (Subject coordinator) 2004-2007, TV5130 Advances in Veterinary Parasitology (Subject coordinator) 2004-2007, TV5010 Animal Health (Parasitology) 2004-2007, TV5131 Host-Parasite Relationships (Subject coordinator) 2004, TV5230 Epidemiology 2 - Advanced (Subject coordinator)
Experience
  • 2008 to present - Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University (Townsville, Queensland)
  • 2003 to 2007 - Senior Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville, Queensland)
  • 2002 to 2003 - Research Associate, University of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin)
  • 2002 to 2003 - Research Associate, National Wildlife Health Centre (Madison, Wisconsin, USA)
  • 1997 to 2000 - Tutor, University of Melbourne (Melbourne, Victoria)
  • 1996 to 1997 - Research Officer, James Cook University (Townsville, Queensland)
  • 1995 to 1996 - Veterinarian, Latrobe Veterinary Clinic (Morwell, Victoria)
  • 1991 - Research Officer, James Cook University (Townsville, Queensland)
Research Disciplines
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
  • 2007 - Barry Laing Munday Recognition Award for contributions to Wildlife Disease Research and Education over the past five years, Wildlife Disease Association, Australasian Section
  • 2007 - Vincent van Cogh Poster Prize at GISVET07 Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark for poster
  • 2007 - Zonal Winner in the Natural Science Category, CHED Research and Publication Awards
  • 2000 - Student Presentation Prize, Joint Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association, Australasian Section and the Wildlife Society of the New Zealand Veterinary Association, December 2000 Auckland University Field Station, Leigh, New Zealand.
  • 1997 to 2000 - Australian Post-Graduate Award, University of Melbourne.
  • 1999 - Sunshine Foundation Scholarship in Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne.
  • 1998 - Student Poster Prize, Annual Conference of the Australian Wildlife Management Society, December 1998 University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia.
  • 1992 - Student Presentation Prize, Annual Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association, Australasian Section, April 1992 Warrumbungles National Park, New South Wales, Australia.
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 170+ research outputs authored by Dr Lee Skerratt from 1995 onwards.

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

Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation - Research Grant

Models That Predict Risk For Hendra Virus Transmission From Flying Foxes To Horses

Indicative Funding
$180,000 over 2 years
Summary
This project will be the first modelling of bat to horse Hendra virus transmission, aiming to identify key variables at the scale where interspecies transmission occurs. This will require the use of different tools than those traditionally used for modelling disease in larger populations in order to identify those key variables and their relative importance to the risk of an outbreak. Thus we aim to predict periods of high risk of a Hendra virus outbreak in horses and minimize transmission by manipulating those important key factors. Transmission from bats to horses is rare but it is likely that there are relatively common risk events within the transmission pathway such as exposure of horses to bat urine that could be mitigated and result in a substantial reduction in risk. Once these management strategies have been identified we will conduct cost benefit analyses to determine the best. We aim to identify areas of uncertainty and their likely effect on risk. We will assess whether reduction in uncertainty is likely to change management decisions and therefore we will be able to make recommendations on future research priorities.
Investigators
Lee Skerratt (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Modelling; Transmission; Hendra Virus; Horses; Flying Foxes; Zooneses
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
  • Pathology and Epidemiology of Ranavirus Infection in Australian Freshwater Turtles (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • The Study of Brucellosis in Cattle Within the Pacific Island Community as a Model for Disease Surveillance and Reporting (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Viral Disease of Australian Reptiles: Agamid Adenovirus (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Controlling Chytridiomycosis: Characterizing immunosuppressants and mycoviruses from the frog-killing fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Investigation into the Population and Health Status of Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo {Oendrolagus lumholtzi) on the Atherton Tablelands, QLD (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Health and Conservation of Snow Leopards in Mongolia: A One Health Approach. (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Mitigating the Risk of Spill over of Disease from Wild Dogs in Northern Australia (PhD , Primary 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)
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