Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide
VIRTU - Our Team

Vaccinology and Immunology Research Trials Unit (VIRTU)

Our Team

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Director of Vaccinology & Immunology Research Trials Unit

Associate Professor Helen Marshall

Helen is a medical graduate of the University of Adelaide and Director of VIRTU at the Women's and Children's Hospital (WCH). She is a clinical lecturer in the Discipline of Paediatrics and of Public Health at the University of Adelaide. Helen has completed a course in Advanced Vaccinology; she was the recipient of the inaugural Public Health Education and Research Scholarship, awarded following her master's in Public Health Degree and is a member of the National Immunisation Research Network.

Research Medical Officers

Dr Rachel Chen MBBS

Rachel joined VIRTU in 2002 as a Research Medical Officer. Since then she has been a Co- Investigator for many clinical vaccine trials. Rachel is also a General Practitioner, RACGP SA Examination Panel Chair and senior visiting Medical Officer at Antenatal Clinic at the WCH.

Dr Susan Evans MBBS

Susan is a General Practitioner focussing on Women's Health. She has been a Research Medical Officer at VIRTU since 2005, when the HibMenCY study started, and has subsequently been a co-investigator for numerous clinical vaccine trials.

Dr Nan Vasilunas MMS (Hons)

Nan joined VIRTU in 2012 as a Research Medical Officer. She graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1999 and is currently completing her Advanced Training in Paediatric Infectious Diseases.

Dr Trinh Tran MBBS(UK), BSc(Pharm), DCH

Trinh joined the VIRTU team in 2011 as a Research Medical Officer. She is currently working on the Pneumococcal Vaccine Study and is a co-investigator for numerous other studies for the unit. Trinh also has a keen interest in improving Aboriginal health and also works at the Nunkuwarrin Yunti Health Clinic when she's not working at VIRTU.

Clinical Trials Coordinator

Michelle Clarke

Michelle has been working for VIRTU for over 10 years as a Research Coordinator. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Medical Laboratory Science and has experience in all aspects of Clinical Trials Management, a sound knowledge of Good Clinical Practice, with a keen interest in improving children's health. Michelle aims to expand her research experience in grant and manuscript writing.

Study Coordinators

Joanne Collins BSocSci (Hons) PhD

Joanne joined VIRTU in 2009 as a research scientist involved in the Swine Flu (H1N1) community study. Joanne gained her PhD from the School of Psychology at The University of Adelaide and has had extensive research experience in the areas of health psychology and health research and is currently involved in the qualitative component of VIRTU's immunisation in pregnancy project

Chris Heath CN

Chris joined VIRTU in 2002 after many years nursing experience at the WCH. Since joining the group she has developed her skills as a research nurse, co-ordinated a number of clinical trials and been involved in the preparation of numerous ethics submissions. Chris enjoys working with children and their families and has a keen interest in the promotion of vaccination and preventative health care.  

Verity Hill RN

Verity joined VIRTU in 2010 as a research nurse. After completing her Bachelor of Nursing at Flinders University she worked in the UK for 7 years. She has worked as an Intensive Care Nurse before moving to infection control. She completed a teaching and assessing course at University of West England and a Graduate Diploma in Infection Control at University of Central England. She returned to Australia and worked in ICU at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Infection Prevention and Control at WCH. She enjoys public health and looking at infectious disease prevention.

Su-San Lee BMPB, BSc (Hons)

Su-San joined VIRTU in 2004 as a study coordinator after completing a Bachelor of Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and honours in a Bachelor of Science. Su-San has extensive knowledge in clinical trial coordination currently coordinating the meningococcal B vaccine program Staph aureus and Bird flu vaccine study. She is also involved in the general maintenance and overseeing of the laboratory.

Natalie Thomas B.HSc (Hons), L.LB, GDLP, MPH

Natalie joined VIRTU in 2007 as a research scientist and study coordinator. Prior to this Natalie gained extensive experience in multi-centred clinical trials at the Australian Research Centre for Health of Women and Babies.. In 2006, Natalie was an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development undertaking a 9 month field epidemiology placement in China.  Natalie graduated in 2004 with an Honours Degree in Bachelor of Health Sciences and Masters in Public Health in 2006. Natalie is interested in the law associated with research in the life sciences and completed a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Adelaide  in 2009 and was admitted as a practitioner of the Supreme Court of South Australia in 2010.

Jane Tidswell BSc

Jane graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Adelaide in 2001. In 2003, she joined the VIRTU team as a research scientist and has been a study coordinator for several phase I-III vaccine studies. Jane has extensive clinical trial coordination experience and thoroughly enjoys working with children and their families.

Mary Walker CN

Mary is a Registered Nurse and Midwife who has worked for VIRTU for the past two years as a Research Nurse involved in recruitment, clinical appointments, data management and trials administration. Mary completed a Professional Certificate in Allergies, Accreditation Programme for Immunisation Providers, Post Graduate Certificate in Child Adolescent and Family Health Nursing and a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Counselling.

Kirsten Zyhajlo CN, Grad Dip Nursing Science (Burns)

Kirsten joined VIRTU in 2009 as a study coordinator and the unit's Basic Life Support Trainer. She has previous experience in Childhood Immunisation, Paediatric Surgery, Neurosurgery, Cranial Facial and Burns. She has completed post graduate studies in Burns Nursing Health Science. Kirsten is looking forward to furthering her skills in research and coordinating future studies.

Research Support Staff

Anne Webster

Anne is the Administration Officer for VIRTU and has developed this new role within the unit since November 2009. Anne has 20 years experience in various administration roles in both the public and private sectors from which she has gained valuable experience. She has a particular interest in finance and hopes to expand this skill further within the unit.

Study Investigators

Dr Christina Boros
Professor Geoffrey Davidson

last modified: 24 Mar 2016