Dr. Brianna Atto is a Junior Fellow of the Passe and Williams Foundation in 2023. She is an early-career researcher at the University of Tasmania with expertise in microbiology and molecular biology.
Her research interest is in the conception and development of novel strategies to prevent or treat infections in the ear and respiratory tract.
“As someone who experienced many ear infections as a child and suffered from repeat surgeries and permanent hearing loss, I always hope that I can contribute to develop a therapy that prevents these infections,” said Brianna.
She is currently working on an ENT research project in exploring a novel approach for preventing otitis media. The goal of this work is to develop a novel therapy, using a non-harmful bacterium (or a protein it produces), that can achieve improved prevention and treatment of OM caused by Hi.
Middle ear infections are extremely common in children and are a serious problem beyond the pain and discomfort, which can cause difficulties in learning and socialising during the most formative years of life. Due to this reason and supported by her personal experience in ear infections, Brianna then highly motivated to conduct this research.
“I am so glad that I have the opportunity to join the Foundation’s Fellowship Program and gain support for my project as I understand that this research would simply not be possible,” added Brianna.
As one of 2023 Junior Fellows of the Passe & Williams Foundation, she believes that the support provided by the Foundation will allow her and her team to further development using a pre-clinical model, which will give them the data they need to progress towards human trials – the final stage of therapeutic development.
With her passion to help millions of children throughout the world, Brianna is aware that she may also face certain challenges.
As she said, “Ear infections are currently managed by antibiotics, however; this is often ineffective and cannot prevent future infections.” This is becoming more complicated with the rapidly growing rate of antibiotic resistance which is resulting in higher rates of treatment failure. Despite significant efforts, development of an effective vaccine to prevent infections has also not been achieved.
She added, ”It is apparent that we need to develop novel therapies that overcome the shortfalls of typical approaches, rather than continuing to develop new antibiotics which will inevitably succumb to antibiotic resistance.”
Regardless of all the challenges, Brianna hopes that her research project will substantially contribute to improve many children’s lives and hearing.
To read more about Brianna’s project “Exploring a novel approach for preventing otitis media” click here or the link below.