David Piedrafita is Professor and Associate Dean for Research at Federation University in Victoria.


David Piedrafita is Professor and Associate Dean for Research at Federation University in Victoria.

David obtained a BSc Hons in 1991 from ANU and a PhD in 1996 in Parasite Immunology from La Trobe University. In 1997, David was awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship working with Professor Liew at Glasgow University on DNA vaccines against Leishmania, which resulted in multiple high impact publications. Upon returning to Australia in 2000, David has focused on understanding the immunological control of helminth parasites, particularly Fasciola,(liver fluke) and Haemonchus contortus (Barberspole worm) at Monash University until 2014, and since then at Federation University.

David collaborates widely and is internationally recognised as one of the principal authorities on advancing understanding of immunological responses for parasites in veterinary animals. He is regularly invited to present at international conferences/universities and publishes in the highest impact journals of his field. In recognition of his broad international reputation, in 2007 he was invited to join the Club Melbourne Ambassador program by the Victorian Premier, to assist in raising the scientific profile of Australia and in securing major international events.

Key research outcomes include the development of in vitro culture systems for Fasciola, and the first and only demonstration and identification of an immunological killing mechanism against Fasciola.. He is also leading research in the international community on novel helminth resistance mechanisms in production animals from developing countries, which have coevolved with pathogenic parasites, allowing survival even in the presence of high parasite transmission. In particular, David discovered a novel resistance mechanism against the blood feeding nematode, H. contortus, in a native breed of sheep, indigenous to the Canary Islands and demonstrated an immunological basis of resistance against liver fluke in an Indonesian sheep breed. These studies are making significant advancements in our understanding of parasite resistance by production animals and will be critical to the development of efficacious vaccines and new drugs. More recent work has seen David trialing a native antigen vaccine against H. contortus in both Australia and the Canary Islands and developing of a vaccine device against the influenza virus.

David has published >90 research articles, book chapters and conference proceedings and has successfully obtained research funding totaling ~$3M, from a range of organisations including ACIAR, NHMRC, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Pfizer Animal Health Ltd.  This includes a 4 year project as sole Chief Investigator in the Sheep Genomic Program, a $30M MLA/AWI initiative with 11 leading research organisations in Australia and New Zealand, which generated resources and new technologies to allow a rapid advancement in our understanding of parasite resistance and control. As a leading international researcher, David has also mentored over 30 emerging scientists from developing countries in his laboratories as he feels this is critical to science development in these countries. This includes students from China, India, Bangladesh, South America, Spain, Thailand, Sudan, Peru, the Philippines, Iraq, Nepal and Iran. He has also mentored over 25 PhD students to completion, the majority being from developing countries.

David has also been a very active member of the ASP and served as President Elect and President from 2004-2006 and Executive Secretary from 2013-2015. During his presidency in 2006, he coordinated and led a successful bid for ICOPA 2010 in Melbourne and was elected as co-chair for this international conference (with Professor Alan Cowman). Since 2014, he has been the Executive Secretary of the World Federation for Parasitologists. This is an international board with overarching responsibility for promoting international parasitology and is the umbrella organisation that all substantial international parasitology societies are members of. The society solicits international governmental, political and scientific promotion through various activities. It also governs the organisation of the ICOPA congresses.

In view of his outstanding contributions to science, parasitology and the society, Professor David Piedrafita is an extremely worthy recipient of the title, Fellow of the Australian Society for Parasitology.