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Darwin microbiologist Professor Phil Giffard has been recognised for his exceptional service and contribution to science by the Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM) with the society’s Distinguished Service Award.

Professor Giffard is the Head of Laboratory Science at Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and Professor and Assistant Dean for Research and Innovation in the College of Health and Human Sciences at CDU.

His expertise is in the development of innovative genetic analysis technologies, and bioinformatics, and more generally in the formulation and application of these approaches to address questions of immediate relevance to the population of northern Australia.

Professor Giffard said he was honoured to be recognised for his career, which had included working on a number of projects that have led to the discovery of the diversity and genetic analysis of the Staphylococcus aureus complex, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Chlamydia trachomatis.

“We found that what is more broadly known as golden staph is not in fact a single species and that sequencing shows the species are different and unique to varied geographic locations.

“Based in the Menzies laboratory in Darwin we were the first to undertake the full genetic sequence of ocular strains of chlamydia from Australia and create an innovative genotyping method which is quick and economic and could be used to increase the evidence base for interpreting the detection of sexually transmitted infections in the community,” Professor Giffard said.

Professor Giffard joined Menzies in 2008 from the Queensland University of Technology. He is an investigator on 16 research grants and has published 118 academic papers.