The UNSW School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering is proud to join a multidisciplinary Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) called BREATHE, which will study and mitigate airborne threats to health. The centre has been awarded $2.5million by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and will partner with universities, hospitals and research institutes across Australia and abroad.

Professor Con Doolan and Dr Charitha de Silva will be joining experts from a range of disciplines, including medicine and science, to form a multidisciplinary team of investigators collaborating internationally and building capacity within Australia.

The team is led by Professor Raina MacIntyre (Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute) and also includes Associate Professor David Heslop and Professor Christopher Poulos (School of Public Health and Community Medicine), Professor Sisi Zlatanova (School of Built Environment), Associate Professor Michelle Ananda-Rajah and Professor Helen Skouteris (Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences Monash University) and Professor Guy Marks (Medicine UNSW).

The team will study aerosol dynamics, exposure risks, host-pathogen interactions, and the impact of the built environment, ventilation, air conditioning, personal protective equipment (PPE), exposure time and other determinants of airborne threats.

determinants of airborne threats
The team will study determinants of airborne threats. Image: UNSW

“The COVID-19 pandemic which followed the catastrophic Black Summer bushfires have both demonstrated the health risks associated with airborne threats and have also made clear the need to better understand them so that adequate planning can take place,” Professor MacIntyre said.

Dr. de Silva said: “The fluid dynamics of airborne droplets, especially their complex interactions with personal protective equipment (PPE) and the effects induced by different environmental conditions, will be explored in this project through experimental and numerical simulations.”

Prof. Con Doolan added: “The team will use aerosol science and computational fluid dynamic modelling of simulated indoor environments to generate novel research.”