Ruth Thornton

Dr, BSc Murd., PhD W.Aust.

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

    6009 Perth


  • Source: Scopus
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Personal profile


Dr Ruth Thornton is a Passe and Williams Foundation Mid-Career Research Fellow within The Centre for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia and Co-Lead of the Bacterial Respiratory Infectious Disease Group at the Telethon Kids Institute. Her 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.

Dr Thornton’s research into the role of bacterial biofilms, intracellular persistence and host immunity in recurrent middle ear infections (otitis media) has changed paradigms in understanding and treating otitis media. She demonstrated that otopathogenic bacteria exist in biofilms and intracellularly in the middle ear mucosa of children with chronic and recurrent otitis media. She also demonstrated that the middle ear fluid contains host DNA which can be used by the bacteria as scaffolding to persist in the middle ear. This DNA scaffolding can be targeted to prevent recurrent ear infections and repeat surgeries following grommet surgery. This is the basis of the ATOMIC ears clinical trial which she currently leads at Perth Children’s Hospital, investigating the safety and effectiveness of using an anti-biofilm agent to treat recurrent and chronic otitis media.

Funding overview

Passe and Williams Foundation Mid-Career 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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