Professor David Burgner is a paediatric infectious diseases physician at Royal Children's Hospital and NHMRC Senior Research Fellow. He joined MCRI in 2010 after eight years as the only and first paediatric infectious diseases consultant in Western Australia. He leads the Inflammatory Origins group, is co-lead (with Craig Olsson) of the LifeCourse Initiative, and an investigator on the Barwon Infant Study, Child Health CheckPoint, COBRA, GenV, and the Clinical Infectious Diseases Research flagship. He is the Education Officer for the World Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases and the medical advisor to the Kawasaki Disease Foundation.
What are you currently working on or working towards with your project(s)?
Our research looks at the factors that increase susceptibility to early life infection and inflammation and the effects on cardiometabolic and other non-communicable disease risks. It has been particularly exciting to work across discipline boundaries and with people with expertise in everything from total population data, social epidemiology, laboratory science, and cohort studies. Understanding the early life factors that determine later health outcomes is fascinating, especially when these are likely to lead to new interventions across the life course.
What is the biggest achievement of your career?
Although it’s a well-worn answer, it’s true that I’ve been really lucky to be mentored and supported by some great people at key points in my career. I hope I have offered sound advice and opportunities to others. I love to collaborate (especially in countries with high quality liquorice) and this has led to some great friendships and really exciting projects.
Tell us a little bit about yourself outside of MCRI.
I play tennis and run, see live music and comedy, read, cook and garden. I love to travel, especially if there is liquorice involved.
For upcoming researchers and students, what words of wisdom can you provide them?
Don’t be afraid to approach senior people; they are largely just older. If you agree to do something as part of a collaboration, make sure you deliver; the flip side is that you don’t have to say yes to everything that’s offered. Find a good mentor outside your field. And at the end of the day, it’s more important that people still want to have a coffee with you than how many papers you have published.