Professor of Global Health and Infectious Disease Physician, Dr Nick Anstey, returned to the Territory in 1996 to establish Menzies Global Health Program. Prof Anstey was appointed by John Mathews to a bilateral Northern Territory Government research-fellowship-scheme directed towards improving relationships with Indonesia to better understand, treat and prevent malaria and tuberculosis.

“On arrival to Darwin in 1996 my instructions were to go to Indonesia, seek out an Indonesian counterpart, and to establish a collaborative research program in malaria and tuberculosis. This was not a small challenge!” Prof Anstey said.

“With Indonesian partners we established Menzies' research program in Papua, including a key collaborative malaria and tuberculosis program in Timika in 1999.”

This program has continued to grow, attracting multiple Menzies and Indonesian partners in studies leading to improved outcomes from malaria and tuberculosis. Ten years later Nick also established a malaria-tuberculosis research collaboration with partners in Sabah, Malaysia, which again led to reduced malaria mortality.

Nick has supervised over 20 PhD students, with many now leading their own research programs.

“It is great to have worked with so many wonderful partners and postgraduate students across Menzies, Indonesia and Malaysia,” Prof Anstey said.

Establishing and sustaining the research collaboration in Papua, Indonesia was challenging. Paul Kelly, Craig Boutlis, Ric Price, Kim Piera, Tsin Yeo and Anna Ralph joining the Menzies team over the first decade made a big difference. Rini Poespoprodjo and Enny Kenangalem have been key partners in Papua for over 20 years. Similarly, Malaysian partners Timothy William and Giri Rajahram and Menzies’ Bridget Barber and Matt Grigg have keen to the success of the Sabah program over the last 12 years.

Some of his highlights over the last 25 years include studies identifying novel mechanisms underlying severe and fatal malaria, trials showing reduced mortality with use of artesunate for severe disease, policy- and practice-changing clinical trials in the treatment and prevention of each of the major parasite species causing malaria, and the identification with Steven Kho of a new life cycle of the malaria parasite found hiding in the human spleen.

Nick has been recognised globally for his research impact. In 2015 he was awarded the Australian Academy of Science’s inaugural Nossal Award in Global Health and elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. In 2021, he was named as one of the most influential ‘Clinical Medicine and Biomedical Research’ scientists in the world by Stanford University.

“We have major collaborations with partners across the Indo-Pacific and I hope to see these relationships become even stronger, and for Menzies to continue to attract and retain the excellent researchers and postgraduate students who will lead the next 25 years of Menzies work in global health,” Prof Anstey said.