Ruth Thornton

Dr, BSc Murd., PhD W.Aust.

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

    6009 Perth


  • 465 Citations
  • 11 h-Index
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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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  • 6 Similar Profiles
Otitis Media Medicine & Life Sciences
Haemophilus influenzae Medicine & Life Sciences
Middle Ear Medicine & Life Sciences
Bacteria Medicine & Life Sciences
otitis media Agriculture & Biology
Otitis Media with Effusion Medicine & Life Sciences
Conjugate Vaccines Medicine & Life Sciences
Dust Medicine & Life Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2007 2019

2 Citations (Scopus)

Combination of clinical symptoms and blood biomarkers can improve discrimination between bacterial or viral community-acquired pneumonia in children

Bhuiyan, M. U., Blyth, C. C., West, R., Lang, J., Rahman, T., Granland, C., de Gier, C., Borland, M. L., Thornton, R. B., Kirkham, L-A. S., Martin, A., Richmond, P. C., Smith, D. W., Jaffe, A. & Snelling, T. L., 2 Apr 2019, In : BMC Pulmonary Medicine. 19, 1, 9 p., 71.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
2 Citations (Scopus)

PCV7- and PCV10-Vaccinated Otitis-Prone Children in New Zealand Have Similar Pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae Densities in Their Nasopharynx and Middle Ear

de Gier, C., Granland, C. M., Pickering, J. L., Walls, T., Bhuiyan, M., Mills, N., Richmond, P. C., Best, E. J., Thornton, R. B. & Kirkham, L-A. S., 31 Jan 2019, In : Vaccines. 7, 1, 14 p., 14.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
1 Citation (Scopus)

The contribution of geogenic particulate matter to lung disease in indigenous children

Shepherd, C. C. J., Clifford, H. D., Mitrou, F., Melody, S. M., Bennett, E. J., Johnston, F. H., Knibbs, L. D., Pereira, G., Pickering, J. L., Teo, T. H., Kirkham, L. A. S., Thornton, R. B., Kicic, A., Ling, K. M., Alach, Z., Lester, M., Franklin, P., Reid, D. & Zosky, G. R., 1 Aug 2019, In : International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 16, 15, 12 p., 2636.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Particulate Matter
Lung Diseases
Ear Diseases
Western Australia
6 Citations (Scopus)

The contribution of viruses and bacteria to community-acquired pneumonia in vaccinated children: A case - Control study

Bhuiyan, M. U., Snelling, T. L., West, R., Lang, J., Rahman, T., Granland, C., De Gier, C., Borland, M. L., Thornton, R. B., Kirkham, L. A. S., Sikazwe, C., Martin, A. C., Richmond, P. C., Smith, D. W., Jaffe, A. & Blyth, C. C., Mar 2019, In : Thorax. 74, 3, p. 261-269 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Case-Control Studies
Respiratory Syncytial Viruses
1 Citation (Scopus)

Bacillus licheniformis in geogenic dust induces inflammation in respiratory epithelium

Pickering, J., Teo, T. H., Thornton, R. B., Kirkham, L. A., Zosky, G. R. & Clifford, H. D., 1 Jul 2018, In : Environmental Research. 164, p. 248-254 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Respiratory Mucosa

Projects 2011 2017