Ruth Thornton

Dr, BSc Murd., PhD W.Aust.

  • The University of Western Australia (M561), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • Source: Scopus
  • Calculated using citation counts from Scopus for publications in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository
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Personal profile


I am a BrightSpark Foundation Research Fellow with the UWA School of Paediatrics and Child Health and Honorary Research Fellow with the Telethon Kids Institute. My research interests lie in understanding the interactions between bacteria and the host in chronic and recurrent respiratory infections including ear, nose and throat infections and chronic lung disease. I was awarded my PhD in 2011 from the University of Western Australia under the mentorship of Associate Professor Peter Richmond, Clinical Professor Harvey Coates and Associate Professor Paul Rigby. During my PhD I demonstrated that otopathogenic bacteria exist in both biofilms and intracellularly in the middle ear mucosa of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children with chronic and recurrent otitis media. I also demonstrated that the middle ear effusion contains host DNA which can be used by the bacteria as scaffolding to maintain an infectious reservoir in the middle ear. This DNA scaffolding may provide a treatment target to prevent recurrent ear infections and repeat surgeries following initial ventilation tube insertions. My research into the role of bacterial biofilms, intracellular persistence and host immunity in recurrent middle ear infections (OM) has changed paradigms in the understanding and treatment of OM. My research has directly translated into clinical trials to improve surgical outcomes for OM and will be used in improving treatment outcomes for Indigenous children with chronic suppurative OM.

Funding overview

BrightSpark Research Fellow

Teaching overview

PhD student completion: Chinh Ngo, Griffith Univeristy, 2016


• Exploring the role of bacterial biofilm and intracellular infection in chronic and recurrent ear, nose and throat infections in children.
• Understanding the immunology and microbiology of chronic respiratory diseases including ear, nose and throat disease in children and non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis in both adults and children.
• Exploring bacterial persistence mechanisms in children with chronic suppurative lung disease and adults with non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis.
• Exploring novel treatment options for treatment of otitis media.


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