Professor Nigel Curtis wins prestigious Bill Marshall Award

Professor Nigel Curtis, Department of Paediatrics has won the prestigious Bill Marshall Award in recognition of his contributions to the paediatric infectious disease field.

The annual award from the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID) recognises contributions and achievements in clinical practice, teaching and research in paediatric infectious diseases.

Professor Curtis, who is a Professor of Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Paediatrics in the Melbourne Medical School, accepted the accolade at the ESPID Annual Conference in Athens on Friday 13 May, where he delivered a lecture on his tuberculosis (TB) and Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine research.

“I am very happy and grateful to receive the Bill Marshall Award and I want to highlight that this award reflects the hard work, enthusiasm and commitment of the many clinicians, laboratory scientists, research nurses and other researchers that I’ve had the privilege of working with across all of our work in paediatric infectious diseases,” Professor Curtis said. “I would like to dedicate this award to them.”

As a clinician scientist, Professor Curtis also heads the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Infectious Diseases Research Group and is Head of Infectious Diseases at The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.

His research focuses on improving the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of infectious diseases in children, combining clinical research and trials with laboratory immunology studies. The work investigates the innate and cellular immune response to BCG vaccine, as well as the immuno-diagnosis of childhood TB.

Professor Curtis is the recipient of a National Health and Medical Research Council Investigator Award, has been an investigator on grants totalling more than $40 million, and has published nearly 400 research papers.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Australia in early 2020, Professor Curtis established The BRACE Trial, a randomised controlled trial of the BCG vaccination to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in healthcare workers. Almost 7000 participants across five countries were recruited making it the world’s largest trial on the off-target effects of the BCG vaccine.

The research has so far confirmed BCG vaccination alters immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 in the test tube. The six-month primary outcomes to determine whether this translates into clinical protection are imminent.

Professor Curtis is the lead investigator of numerous other studies, including The MIS BAIR Trial, a randomised controlled trial of neonatal BCG vaccination to investigate its ability to prevent infections, allergic disease and asthma.