Dr Kathryn Holt, Bio21 Institute, The University of Melbourne

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01 September 2013

Tracking the spread of deadly diseases

Kat Holt is using genetics, maths and supercomputers to study the whole genome of deadly bacteria and work out how they spread. Studying a typhoid epidemic in Kathmandu, she found that it didn’t spread in the way we thought epidemics did. Her research, published in Nature Genetics, will change how we go about responding to epidemics.

Her L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowship allowed Kat to use the same techniques to understand how antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread in Melbourne hospitals. Are people catching these superbugs in hospital, or are they bringing the bugs into hospital with them? Can we give the intensive care clinicians early warning of a drug-resistant bacteria in their patients?


2011 Masters in Epidemiology, The University of Melbourne
2009 PhD (Molecular biology), Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and The University of Cambridge, UK
2004 Bachelor of Science with Honours (Genetics)/Bachelor of Arts, The University of Western Australia

Career highlights, awards, fellowships, grants

2013-2015 Chief investigator on National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) project grant Identifying key players in the spread of antimicrobial resistance, worth over $785,000
2013-2016 Chief investigator on four other NHMRC research grants, worth over $2.2 million
2013 Invited seminar speaker, Molecular Microbiology Meeting, Sydney
2012-present Research Fellow/NHMRC Early Career Fellow, Bio21 Institute, Dept Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Melbourne
2012-present Honorary Research Fellow, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, WA
2012 CASS Foundation Travel Grant to attend Molecular Epidemiology and Evolutionary Genetics of Infectious Diseases conference, US
2012 Visiting Researcher, Pasteur Institute, France, funded by Rod Rickards Fellowship and administered by Australian Academy of Science
2012 Invited conference speaker, UK Society for General Microbiology Conference, Dublin, Ireland
2012 Invited seminar speaker, Giessen University, Germany
2012 Invited conference speaker, session chair and workshop convenor, Australian Society for Microbiology Annual Conference, Brisbane.
2011-2012 Victorian Department of Health Food Safety Evidence for Policy Research Grant, Genetic fingerprinting of Listeria and Salmonella: How Different is Different?
2011 Early Career Researcher Grant, The University of Melbourne
2010 Invited seminar speaker, Pasteur Institute, Paris
2010-2012 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, The University of Melbourne
2005-2009 PhD Studentship, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Molecular Pathogenesis, UK
2005 Research Technician, Bioinformatics Division, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
2004-2005 Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Biochemistry, University of Western Australia
2002-2005 Research Assistant, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, WA
2002-2003 Contract Programmer, CreativityCorp

Top five publications

Holt KE, Parkhill J, Mazzoni CJ, Roumagnac P, Weill FX, Goodhead I, Rance R, Baker S, Maskell D, Wain J, Dolecek C, Achtman M and Dougan G (2008) High-throughput sequencing provides insights into genome variation and evolution in Salmonella Typhi, Nature Genetics 40(8):987-993. (Impact factor 36, 236 citations)

Holt KE, Baker S, Weill FX, Holmes EC, Kitchen A, Yu J, Sangal V, Brown DJ, Coia JE, Kim DW, Choi SY, Kim SH, da Silveira WD, Pickard DJ, Farrar JJ, Parkhill J, Dougan G and Thomson NR (2012) Shigella sonnei genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis indicate recent global dissemination from Europe, Nature Genetics44(9):1056-1059. (Impact factor 36, 17 citations)

Holt KE, Thomson NR, Wain J, Langridge G, Hasan R, Bhutta ZA, Quail MA, Norbertczak H, Walker D, Simmonds M, White B, Bason N, Mungall K, Dougan G and Parkhill J (2009) Pseudogene accumulation in the evolutionary histories of Salmonella enterica serovars Paratyphi A and Typhi, BMC Genomics 10:36. (Impact factor 4, 53 citations)

Heaton T, Rowe J, Turner S, Aalberse RC, de Klerk N, Suriyaarachchi D, Serralha M, Holt BJ, Hollams E, Yerkovich S, Holt K, Sly PD, Goldblatt J, Le Souef P and Holt PG (2005) An immunoepidemiological approach to asthma: identification of in vitro T-cell response patterns associated with different wheezing phenotypes amongst 11 year olds, Lancet 365(9454):142-149. (Impact factor 34, 220 citations)

Rohde H, Qin J, Cui Y, Li D, Loman NJ, Hentschke M, Chen W, Pu F, Peng Y, Li J, Xi F, Li S, Li Y, Zhang Z, Yang X, Zhao M, Wang P, Guan Y, Cen Z, Zhao X, Christner M, Kobbe R, Loos S, Oh J, Yang L, Danchin A, Gao GF, Song Y, Li Y, Yang H, Wang J, Xu J, Pallen MJ, Wang J, Aepfelbacher M, Yang R, E. coli O104:H4 Genome Analysis Crowd-Sourcing Consortium (Holt KE, Studholme DJ, Feldgarden M, Manrique M) (2011) Open-source genomic analysis of Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli O104:H4, The New England Journal of Medicine 365(8):718-724. (Impact factor 53, 161 citations)



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