Conjoint A/Prof. Peter Wark
|Work Phone||(02) 40420110|
|Fax||(02) 4985 5850|
Conjoint Associate Professor
School of Medicine and Public Health
The University of Newcastle, Australia
|Office||2107, Level 2, West Hmri Building|
Peter Wark is a senior staff specialist in Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle and a conjoint Associate Professor with the University of Newcastle. In addition he is co-director of the Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases and a member of the Vaccines Immunology Viruses and Asthma research group at the Hunter Medical Research Institute. He has been a member of the TSANZ executive board since and chairman of the clinical care and resources subcommittee since 2011.
His research interests are in the area of infection and the impact this has on inflammatory airways disease, with a particular interest in viral respiratory infections. His group has developed expertise in identifying respiratory viruses in airway secretions and developing an in-vitro cell culture model of the airway epithelium that we use to model the effect of infection and inflammation. He is the centre director for the John Hunter Adult Cystic Fibrosis clinic that manages 75 adult patients with CF in the context of a multidisciplinary team. He is area director for the oxygen and related products scheme and lead physician for the advanced respiratory failure clinic. He is chairperson for the Hunter New England Local Hospital network respiratory stream, responsible for the provision of respiratory services throughout the Hunter New England area, with a catchment population of 840,000.
Peter qualified as a Bachelor of Medicine at the University of Newcastle, Australia in 1991 and qualified as a specialist in Respiratory and Sleep Medicine as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1999.
From 2001-2005 he was a post doctoral research fellow under an NHMRC Neil Hamilton Fairley Travelling Fellowship at the University of Southampton and University College London, under the supervision of Professors Stephen Holgate, Donna Davies and Sebastian Johnston.
From 1998-2001 he completed a PhD under the supervision of Professors Peter Gibson and Michael Hensley at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
Peter is married to Katrina, and parents to Kirsty, Marden, Jasmine, Sarah, David, Charlotte and Eliza.
- Airway inflammation
- Respiratory Medicine
My current research interests include the role of virus infection in acute exacerbations of airways disease and their influence on airway inflammation. Active research programmes include the investigation of innate immune function of the airway epithelium in response to virus infection and the interaction with other components of the cellular immune system. These projects involve the use of invitro cell culture models to study mechanisms of disease and inflammation especially in respect to viral and bacterial infection, the isolation, sequencing and characterisation of respiratory viruses from clinical specimens. Clinical studies currently focus on the effect of infection in acute exacerbations of asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis lung disease.
I undertook a post-doctoral research project that is collaboration between Professor Stephen Holgate and Professor Sebastian Johnston. The project is titled “Mechanisms of bronchial epithelial cell activation in response to rhinovirus infection in asthma COPD and normal airways. The aim is to characterise the response and interaction of cultured human bronchial epithelial and mesenchymal cells to experimental rhinovirus infection. The aim is to contrast and compare the inflammatory and reparative response in cells from subjects with varying severities of asthma, COPD and normal controls.
During this time I have established expertise with in-vitro culture of tissue cell lines and primary bronchial epithelial cells. In collaboration with Professor Sebastian Johnston I have also established techniques that have enabled me to culture Rhinovirus and infect epithelial cells. We assessed the cytotoxic effect of infection on epithelial cells and determined the mechanisms of cell death using flow cytometry and Annexin binding. In addition the inflammatory response between asthmatic epithelial cells and healthy controls was compared in terms of release of pro-inflammatory mediators, type I interferons and factors that may influence myofibroblast proliferation, by measuring mRNA production using quantifiable PCR in conjunction with protein expression as measured by ELISA. This data has presented at international meetings and is awaiting publication. In the last eighteen months we have received further funding from the UK National Asthma Campaign and the British Medical Association to extend this work examining the effect of infection on an epithelial-mesenchymal co-culture model to determine if there is a relationship between infection and airway wall remodelling and are exploring in greater detail early epithelial intracellular signalling events following infection, particularly in reference to oxidative pathways and interferon ?/? signalling.
My research group specialises in:
1. Primary airway epithelial cell culture, especially in regard to responses to infection and inflammation.
2. Basic mechanisms of innate immune responses pathways, with an emphaisis on epithelial cell responses, dendritic cell responses and innate lymphoid responses.
3. Innate and adaptive immune responses to respiratory virus infection, with a special interest in influenza and rhinovirus
Our clinical studies currently focus on the effect of infection in acute exacerbations of asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis lung disease. Ongoing clinical research programmes are active with Prof Peter Gibson, Dr L Wood. We are currently taking part in a multi-centre RCt of non-CF bronchiectasis in collaboration with Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Sydney and Prince Charles Hospital Brisbane. We are an active site involved in the national influenza surveillance programme "Flucan".
This works involves an effective collaboration between other members of the VIVA group and priority research centre in the areas of clinical research and translational research using animal models with Prof P Hansbro, Prof J Mattes, Prof P Forster.
We have an active NHMRC grant looking at the immunology and susceptibility of virus infection in pregnancy with Prof R Smith.
Fields of Research
Centres and Groups
Body relevant to professional practice.
- Fellow - American Thoracic Society
- Editor - International Cochrane collaboration
- Editor - Clinical and experimental allergy
National & International Standards Committees.
- Fellow - Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand
- Member - Translational research
- Internal medicine
- Respiratory medicine
- Sleep medicine
Supervison of honours and PhD students in the areas airway inflammation, infection and respiratory disease.
I am responsible for funding and supervising 2.0 FTE research assistants and 2.0 FTE post-doctoral research fellows. I have supervised two students who have completed and been awarded their PhD, 2 further students who have completed their doctoral studies and will submit their thesis in 2012 and 3 students that completed their honours year. I am currently the primary supervisor for two PhD students and a secondary supervisor for another three.
For the School of Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle I have regular lecture commitments to years 2, 3, 4 and 5. In addition I act as a clinical tutor for students in year 3, 4 and 5. My direct University teaching commitments are 2.5 hours per week.
Supervision of post graduate students:
I currently supervise 3 students enrolled in PhDs and one student enrolled in a masters degree with the Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle.
I have supervised the following students that have completed and been awarded PhD with the University of Newcastle.
1. Dr Rebecca Forbes awarded 2012
2. Dr Alan Hsu, awarded 2011
2. Dr Shen Yun Adeline Foo, awarded 2011
3. Dr Ahmed Saedsomaelia, awarded 2009
I have supervised the following students that have completed and been awarded honours with the University of Newcastle.
1. Ms Su Ling Loo, First class Honours awarded 2010.
2. Ms Hayley See,