Professor Brett Mitchell is first nurse to receive 2022 Commonwealth Health Minister's Award

Aug 8 2022

Professor Brett Mitchell is the first nurse to receive the 2022 Commonwealth Health Minister's Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research.  

The Health Minister’s Award recognises Professor Mitchell’s outstanding research in infection control, as well as his vision to generate evidence for practical approaches to prevent common healthcare-associated infections. 

HMRI Affiliate Professor Mitchell is a Professor Health Services Research and Nursing at Avondale University. He also received the 2021 NHMRC Peter Doherty Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership) for his work in providing evidence for practical measures to reduce common infections, as well as improving cleaning in healthcare. 

Today, one in 10 patients in an Australian hospital acquires an infection during their stay. In Australian hospitals, there are approximately 165,000 such infections acquired each year.  

“The burden of healthcare-associated infection is significant,” said Professor Mitchell. “It is associated with morbidity, mortality and increased length of stay for those infections acquired in hospitals.” 

“Prevention of infections through practical, implementable, and translatable interventions is of critical importance in the era of antimicrobial resistance. Not only to reduce the burden and impact for patients and health services now, but also to limit antimicrobial resistance and better prepare us for emerging infectious disease threats.” 

Professor Mitchell’s interest in infection prevention was sparked after working as a senior nurse in a tertiary infectious disease unit in the UK.  

Since then, he has helped establish the Tasmanian Infection Prevention and Control Unit, worked in low-income countries, and been involved with national initiatives with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. 

“I have been asked in the past why I do research and why it is important. For me, the answer is simple – I do it for patients and for healthcare workers,” said Professor Mitchell. 

“Through this award, my research and working alongside patients, clinicians, academics, and industry, I hope we can reduce the burden of infection for patients who receive healthcare across the country. I truly hope this is the beginning of much more to come in researching the prevention of infections.”