Associate Professor Eric Chow from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and Monash University was recently awarded the 2020 Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research.
The prestigious award is given annually to the top-ranked recipient of a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant.
When told of his award, Eric said he was incredibly humbled.
“I am very surprised and honoured to be one of the researchers to receive this prestigious award from the NHMRC,” he said.
“This award recognises and highlights the importance of STI research as well as the quality and innovation of work that my team and I are doing.”
But he was quick to point out the award was a team effort.
“I would not have received the NHMRC Research Excellence Awards without the support from my colleagues at the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, and also my mentor Professor Christopher Fairley.
“Our work has the potential to reduce the burden of sexually transmitted infections and also to improve the lives of affected individuals.”
Eric’s research aims to improve treatment, prevention and control of STIs, with a particular interest in gonorrhoea, syphilis and human papillomavirus.
He recently discovered that kissing is the leading risk factor for throat gonorrhoea, which has never been recognised in the 100 years since the bacteria was identified.
“My discovery has completely changed the way how we thought gonorrhoea is transmitted,” Eric said.
“My previous work has shown that antiseptic mouthwash could be a potential preventive strategy for throat gonorrhoea and if mouthwash is shown to be effective, we can reduce the use of antibiotics in the era of multidrug resistance,”
“My research vision for the next five years is to halt the rapidly rising rates of STI in Australia by using a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the transmission dynamics of STI and exploring novel interventions for STI prevention and control.”