About

Professor Tom Burkot is a research leader at the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM). Prior to this, he was a research entomologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA (CDC) from 1991 to 2011 where he worked on the transmission of malaria in Africa and Asia. As a National Research Council Fellow at Walter Reed, Dr Burkot developed the first enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to identify and quantify human sporozoites in the mosquito vectors.

He now has over 40 years experience in vector-borne disease transmission and control research on protozoa, helminths, viruses and bacteria transmitted by mosquitos and ticks. He has extensive scientific international field experience with short and long term projects in countries in Asia, Africa and the South Pacific (e.g. Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Angola, and Ethiopia). He has also developed and delivered courses and training materials at the professional and technical levels for vector borne disease specialists.

Prof Burkot is a member American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and also currently holds positions on the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee and the Malaria Elimination Oversight Committee of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, the Aedes albopictus Torres Strait Programme Technical Advisory Group, the Indo-Pacific Initiative Advisory Group of the Innovative Vector Control Consortium, and is on the Management Board of  Building Out Vector Borne Diseases in Sub-Sahara Africa.

He has published over 150 key articles in the highest ranked international journals and received over 9500 citations.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases Group

Our highly collaborative multi-disciplinary research group aims to improve vector surveillance and stop transmission of malaria, dengue, Zika and chikungunya globally and with a focus in the Asia-Pacific. Our primary focus on understanding mosquito-borne disease transmission systems, which comprises the interactions between the mosquito vectors, disease pathogens, human hosts and the environment. By characterizing this complex system, our research can be extended to improve vector control programs to eliminate disease transmission.

Our activities range from basic applied research conducted on campus at JCU, through to field based studies focused on understanding the vectors and associated transmission systems, and then translation into policy guidance. The Group is based at the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, on the Cairns campus of James Cook University. Here the facilities include state-of-the-art insectaries, PC2 laboratories and the Mosquito Research Facility (large semi-field structure). Our team conducts field work across the globe including countries in Australia, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. 

Research Themes

  • Understanding the ecology and behaviours of insect vectors of human diseases
  • The underlying broad-scale ecological process influencing malaria and dengue transmission
  • Support evidence-based control of malaria and dengue vectors
  • To improve vector surveillance systems in malaria endemic countries

To read more about our research group follow the link to our website:  

https://www.aithm.jcu.edu.au/research/research-projects-and-groups/mosquito-borne-diseases-group/

Evaluating zoonotic malaria transmission and agricultural and forestry land use in Indonesia (ZOOMAL)

This project is partnering Indonesian and Australian researchers to evaluate monkey to human transmission of malaria parasites across Indonesia, specifically Plasmodium knowlesi.

Little is known about the transmission of P. knowlesi in Indonesia, however in Malaysia changes in agricultural and forestry land use have been linked to increasing numbers of cases of zoonotic malaria (malaria spread between animals and people), particularly affecting farmers and plantation workers.

The two-and-a-half-year multi-disciplinary study will work in three sites in Indonesia (North Sumatra, North Kalimantan and Sabang, Aceh) to develop and validate the best methods to detect P. knowlesi and other malaria parasites in humans, in order to better understand how and where the parasite may be transmitted.

This project is part of the Research for One Health Systems Strengthening Program co-funded with DFAT addressing zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance and systems strengthening within the Asia Pacific. 

Project Outcomes

  • Improving detection methods for zoonotic malaria surveillance and use them to define the disease burden. 

  • Evaluating agricultural and land-use factors associated with zoonotic malaria transmission. 

  • Evaluating mosquito vectors transmitting zoonotic malaria and the association with agricultural land-types and practices on their behaviour.

Building capacity for evidence based sustainable vector surveillance and control in the Pacific

The Mosquito-Borne Diseases Group is leading a consortium of 11 institutions to enable more effective arbovirus and malaria vector surveillance in up to 12 Pacific island countries. The program will drive sustainable improvements in vector surveillance and control programs that will have broad impacts to improve regional health security. Activities will focus on building capacity to implement vector surveillance based on World Health Organisation recommendations. The consortium will strengthen existing networks to facilitate in-country and regional communication. A major outcome will be practical and actionable strategic plans developed by Pacific island countries to enable sustainable surveillance to enable more proactive responses to contain outbreaks.

Interests
Research
  • Understanding the ecology and behaviours of insect vectors of human diseases
  • Evaluating novel interventions for malaria and lymphatic filariasis
  • Creating an analytical framework to facilitate modelling of malaria control interventions
  • Monitoring Aedes albopictus in the Torres Strait
  • Monkey malaria transmission to humans in Sumatra
  • Establishment of a Pacific vector surveillance support network
Experience
  • 2011 to present - Professor and Tropical Leader, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2016 to 2017 - Research Fellow, Global Health Technologies Division of Global Good (Cairns, Australia)
  • 1991 to 2011 - Research Entomologist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Fort Collins, CO and Atlanta GA, USA)
  • 2000 to 2001 - Consultant, Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
  • 1988 to 1991 - Laboratory Head, Queensland Institute of Medical Research (Brisbane, QLD)
  • 1983 to 1988 - Senior Scientist, Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (Madang, Papua New Guinea)
  • 1987 - Research Entomologist (Sabbatical), Department of Pure and Applied Biology, Imperial College of Science and Technology (London, England)
  • 1981 to 1983 - National Research Council Fellow, The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (Washington, DC; USA)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
Honours
Awards
  • 1983 - Third Place, National Army (USA) Science Prize
  • 1977 - 1977 Outstanding Graduate Student Award (runner-up), MSc Level, North Central Branch, Entomological Society of America
  • 1976 - J. Bruce Allen Prize for the outstanding undergraduate research project
Fellowships
  • 1981 to 1983 - National Research Council Fellowship
Memberships
  • 2020 - Aedes albopictus Torres Strait Programme Technical Advisory Group
  • 2019 - Indo-Pacific Initiative Advisory Group, Innovative Vector Control Consortium
  • 2018 - Global Malaria Programme, Malaria Elimination Oversight Committee member
  • 2017 - Building Out Vector Borne Diseases in Sub-Sahara Africa Management Board
  • 2016 - Lihir Malaria Elimination Programme International Scientific Advisory Committee
  • 2016 - Global Malaria Programme, Malaria Policy Advisory Committee member
  • 1981 - American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
  • 2016 to 2017 - World Health Organization Steering Committee to support the development of a Global Strategy for Vector Control for Vector Borne Diseases
  • 2015 to 2016 - Global Malaria Programme, Expert Review Group to write the Malaria Elimination Manual
  • 2015 to 2016 - Steering committee member for the Accelerated Malaria Control Program for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville
  • 2013 to 2015 - World Health Organization, Vector Control Advisory Group on New Paradigm Tools, Member
  • 2013 to 2014 - Global Malaria Programme, Expert Review Group to write the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria Control and Elimination,
  • 2006 to 2010 - Journal of Medical Entomology, Subject Matter Editor
  • 2006 to 2010 - Global Fund for HIV, TB and Malaria, Technical Review Panel malaria expert
  • 1997 to 2001 - American Committee of Medical Entomology
Other
  • 2015 - George Craig Memorial Lecture; University of Notre Dame
  • 2009 to 2011 - Adjunct position: Department of Environmental Studies; Emory University, Atlanta GA
  • 2003 to 2008 - Adjunct position: Senior Principal Research Scientist; Anton Breinl Centre, James Cook University, Australia
  • 1994 to 2005 - Adjunct position: Department of Microbiology, Colorado State University; Fort Collins, Colorado (1994-2005)
  • 1976 - Graduated B.Sc. with High Honors, University of Notre Dame
  • 1974 to 1976 - Walsh Hudson Cavanaugh Scholarship
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 51+ research outputs authored by Prof Tom Burkot from 2006 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre Limited - Research Seed Grants

Protecting north Queensland from Aedes albopictus, an exotic dengue vector, with Attractive Targeted Sugar Baits (ATSB)

Indicative Funding
$50,000 over 2 years
Summary
Aedes albopictus, a documented vector of dengue, Zika and chikungunya, is one of the fastest spreading invasive species worldwide, and was first detected in the Torres Strait in 2005. This pilot project will lay the foundation required to assess the feasibility of Attractive Targeted Sugar Baits (ATSB) to control Aedes albopictus. The overall objective is to determine the frequency that mosquitos? sugar feed, a parameter critical to the success of ATSBs. This pilot data will be leveraged for funding to trial the use of ATSBs to stop Ae. albopictus from reaching the mainland.
Investigators
Tanya Russell, Tom Burkot, Kyran Staunton, Scott Ritchie and Thomas Swan in collaboration with Mutizwa Muzari (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Aedes Albopictus; Attractive Toxic Sugar Bait; Torres Strait; Dengue

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) - Pacific Infectious Disease Prevention (PIDP) Program

Building Capacity for Evidence Based Sustainable Vector Surveillance and Control in the Pacific

Indicative Funding
$5,124,884 over 2 years
Summary
This proposal will build the capacity of country-led programs for Aedes and anopheline borne disease control across Pacific Island countries to implement sustainable best practice surveillance and response plans based on a foundation of improved capacity and community engagement
Investigators
Tom Burkot, Tanya Russell, Stephan Karl, Kyran Staunton, Tessa Knox, Rabindra Abeyasinghe, Angela Merianos, Gregor Devine, Michael Nunan, Gerard Kelly, Lisa Natoli, Veronica Bell, Moses LAMAN, Adam Craig, Nigel Beebe and Leanne Robinson (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, World Health Organisation (Switzerland), Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Beyond Essential Systems, Red Cross Australia, Institute of Medical Research (PNG), The University of New South Wales, The University of Queensland and Burnet Insitute)
Keywords
Dengue; Aedes; Capacity Building; Ministry of Health; Pacific region; Anopheles

Verily Life Sciences - Contract Research

Verily Life Sciences LLC

Indicative Funding
$156,891 over 2 years
Summary
Design and validate traps and associated sensor packages (if available) that are low cost and sensitive enough to capture Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes that they can be deployed for both Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) release surveillance during suppression and elimination operations, and also for sentinel surveillance after elimination.
Investigators
Tom Burkot and Kyran Staunton in collaboration with Michael Townsend (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Dengue; Mosquito Trap; Aedes aegypti (Culcidae); Aedes Albopictus

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Stopping the Asian Tiger Mosquito from reaching mainland Australia with sugar baits

Indicative Funding
$5,000
Summary
Aedes albopictus, a documented vector of dengue, Zika and chikungunya, is one of the fastest spreading invasive species worldwide, and was first detected in the Torres Strait in 2005. This pilot project will lay the foundation required to assess the feasibility of Attractive Targeted Sugar Baits (ATSB) to control Aedes albopictus. The overall objective is to determine the frequency that mosquitos? sugar feed, a parameter critical to the success of ATSBs. This pilot data will be leveraged for funding to trial the use of ATSBs to stop Ae. albopictus from reaching the mainland.
Investigators
Tanya Russell, Tom Burkot, Kyran Staunton and Thomas Swan (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Keywords
Aedes Albopictus; Attractive Toxic Sugar Bait; Torres Strait; Dengue

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Beyond Thursday Island: Expanding the current Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) control program across the Torres Strait

Indicative Funding
$25,000
Summary
Mosquitoes are uncontestably one of the deadliest animals in the world. Our project will investigate the Asian Tiger Mosquito (ATM), a major dengue vector in the TS. Outcomes of this project will directly benefit the people of FNQ. The overall purpose of this research is to investigate the ecology, distribution and dispersal of the ATM on islands in the TS. This project will gain information about the ecology, location and movement of the ATM on and between islands. This knowledge will form the basis for a potential surveillance tool for the ATM in the Torres Strait, which will reduce locally transmitted dengue and chikungunya viruses in FNQ.
Investigators
Scott Ritchie, Thomas Swan and Tom Burkot (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Tropical Health; Dengue; Zika; Aedes Albopictus (Culicidae)

Verily Life Sciences - Contract Research

JCU Mosquito Trap Development

Indicative Funding
$544,184 over 2 years
Summary
To design and validate traps that are low cost and sensitive enough for Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes that they can be deployed for both SIT release surveillance during suppression and elimination operations, and also for sentinel surveillance after elimination.
Investigators
Kyran Staunton, Tom Burkot and Wei Xiang (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Dengue; Mosquito; trap; Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

The Regents of the University of California - Contract Research

Vector Control Technical Landscape Analysis of Papua New Guinea

Indicative Funding
$36,926
Summary
The project will analyse vector suveillance and control activities in Papua New Guinea in both the private and public sectors to identify gaps that might be addressed through novel control strategies under development at the Innovative Vector Control Consortia using funding from the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Investigators
Tom Burkot (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Keywords
Malaria; Lymphatic Filariasis; Dengue; anopheles mosquitoes

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - Grant

Technology Identification to Optimize Malaria Vector Surveillance

Indicative Funding
$605,563
Summary
The proposed investment will undertake an analysis of vector surveillance in priority elimination programs against recommended surveillance practices. This analysis will include evaluations of data, programmatic capacity and technical attributes of the surveillance systems currently in use by NMCPs of selected countries. This assessment will identify gaps/limitations and constraints that impede present surveillance programs from achieving the implementation of best practices.
Investigators
Tom Burkot in collaboration with Tanya Russell and Robert Farlow (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Keywords
Vector surveillance; Malaria Elimination

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) - Tropical Disease Research Regional Collaboration Initiative

Tropical partnerships to strengthen health systems responses to infectious diseases threats

Indicative Funding
$2,000,000 over 2 years
Summary
The Asia Pacific Region is facing frequent threats from emerging and existing infectious diseases. The capacity to mount a timely effective response is compromised in poorly functioning health systems seen in parts of the region. The resulting vulnerability affects the whole region, including Australia. Strengthening capacity to prepare and respond to these threats is thus a shared responsibility. This proposal aims to tackle the problem through collaboration with institutions, researchers and policy makers across the region, building on long held partnerships.
Investigators
Emma McBryde, Sarah Larkins, Archie Clements, Barend (Ben) Marais, Peter Siba, Maxine Whittaker, Tom Burkot, David MacLaren, George Milne and Richard Speare (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Medicine & Dentistry, Australian National University, The University of Sydney, Institute of Medical Research (PNG), College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and The University of Western Australia)
Keywords
Health system strengthening; Infectious Diseases; Epidemiology; Disease Surveillance

Intellectual Ventures Property Holdings LLC - Consultancy

Defining the Role of Intellectual Ventures in Vector Biology Research

Indicative Funding
$450,638 over 4 years
Summary
a) Review outcomes of the Vector Expert Group meeting which took place on December 16th and December 17th, 2014 and the consultation on vectors with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ("BMGF") which took place on January 5, 2015. b) Identify priority areas suitable for further developments by Client and IVPH; and c) Develop concept notes on identified priority areas, including recommended timelines, resource requirements and partners.
Investigators
Tom Burkot (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Keywords
Vector Biology; Malaria; Mosquito

Intellectual Ventures Property Holdings LLC - Contract Research

Development of a Vector Management Programme at Intellectual Ventures Labs

Indicative Funding
$339,277 over 2 years
Summary
To develop support for and development of a vector management strategy and potential program for the Global Health Technologies Organization of Intellectual Ventures Labs. Activities will be development of a mosquito monitoring and control programs with an initial focus on malaria vectors including development of target product profiles for potential interventions and their development towards field evaluations.
Investigators
Tom Burkot (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Keywords
Vector Control; Anopheles; Integrated Vector Management; Malaria
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
  • Survey of Dengue Fever Vectors and its Serotype Viruses in Solomon Islands (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Defining transmission of malaria parasites from humans to mosquitos in Papua New Guinea (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Ecological Investigations and Control of Mosquito Disease Vectors (Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus) in the Torres Strait (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Defining the risk to Humans of Emerging Zoonotic Malaria in Indonesia (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Larval density and adult fitness in Anopheles farauti: Towards understanding how larval control may impact transmission by adults (PhD , Primary Advisor)
Completed
Data

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.

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
  • E5.107, AITHM Cairns (Cairns campus)
Advisory Accreditation
Primary Advisor
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  4. Dr Patricia Graves
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  5. Prof Scott Ritchie
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