Identifying risks for Thunderstorm Asthma in Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (TAISAR) cohort study

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Medicine and Radiology
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Jo Douglass 0393427191
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Shyamali Dharmaghe 8344 0737 Personal web page

Project Details

On 21st November 2016, Melbourne suffered an asthma epidemic following a thunderstorm that overwhelmed emergency services and led to the activation of disaster codes. Tragically, 10 people died of asthma as a consequence. Whilst clusters of Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma (ETSA) have been previously reported, this event was unprecedented in its severity. It is inevitable that such severe weather events as occurred in 2016 will recur, so that the risks to individuals need to be better understood and preventive strategies developed based on evidence that can be applied atan individual, clinical and at a public health level. So there is an urgent need to identify predictors of susceptibility and severity to ETSA to inform public health and clinical preventive strategies.

This proposal brings together a team of clinicians, epidemiologists, botanists, medical, pharmaceutical, scientific and policy experts to answer questions resulting from this epidemic and provide evidence-based advice to the community and health care providers to manage recurrent weather events of this nature. The study is funded to recruit 400 individuals with seasonal allergic rhinitis, some of whom have previously suffered from ETSA and to monitor these people throughout the springtime season for both rhinitis and asthma symptoms.  Participants will also complete a questionnaire on asthma history and symptoms as well as being asked to provide samples of blood that can be further studied.  The study is planned to begin prior to the 2018-9 grass pollen season and recruit people from August 2018 through to February 2020. Participants will form a cohort that can be monitored with the Air-Rater App for the upcoming season.

The study is a collaboration between clinical partners at the Royal Melbourne, the Austin, The Northern, St Vincent's and Western Hospitals and Monash Medical Centre. These recruiting sites will be joined by University of Melbourne partners in Botany, Earth Sciences (metereology) and Immunology together with collaborators in the School of Population Health and Epidemiology to identify clinical and biological markers that may be predictive for this event. Candidates for honours, or higher degrees are welcome to apply.

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Integrated Critical Care in Medicine

Research Opportunities

PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

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