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Dr. Ruth Thornton

Dr. Ruth Thornton

Dr Ruth Thornton (BSc, PhD) is the Co-Lead of the Bacterial Respiratory Infectious Disease Group at the Telethon Kids Institute and a Senior Research Fellow within The Centre for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia. Her research interests lie in understanding the interactions between bacteria and the host in chronic and recurrent respiratory infections including ear, nose and throat infections, and chronic lung disease.

Dr Thornton’s research into the role of bacterial biofilms, intracellular persistence and host immunity in recurrent middle ear infections (otitis media) has changed paradigms in understanding and treating otitis media. She demonstrated that otopathogenic bacteria exist in biofilms and intracellularly in the middle ear mucosa of children with chronic and recurrent otitis media. She also demonstrated that the middle ear fluid contains host DNA which can be used by the bacteria as scaffolding to persist in the middle ear. This DNA scaffolding can be targeted to prevent recurrent ear infections and repeat surgeries following grommet surgery. This is the basis of the ATOMIC ears clinical trial which she currently leads at Perth Children’s Hospital, investigating the safety and effectiveness of using an anti-biofilm agent to treat recurrent and chronic otitis media.

Other GPRWMF awards received by awardee Year
Mid-Career FellowshipDeveloping improved therapeutics for treating otitis media and preventing need for repeat surgery2022