Associate Professor Aaron Jex

Associate Professor Aaron Jex



Associate Professor Aaron Jex in his office


Associate Professor

BSc Vancouver Island PhD Queensland

Laboratory Head

My team uses cutting-edge technologies to better understand the biology of gastrointestinal parasites, including worms and agents of diarrhoeal disease.

Parasitic worms have a major impact in impoverished communities in tropical and subtropical regions globally. Diarrhoeal parasites impact heavily on these communities, but are also important in developed countries, including Australia.

We work with the Victorian water industry to develop tools to monitor for aquatic microorganisms that present a public health risk. We also conduct fundamental research into host-parasite interactions, parasite development, stress responses and drug resistance, with the ultimate goal of developing approaches to better control these parasites.

During the COVID-19 pandemic our team has played a key role in Victoria’s wastewater testing programs for SARS-CoV-2, including developing new methods used to confirm the presence of viral fragments in test positive samples and working with the Victorian Department of Health to determine how to use this information in the public health response. This program is also undertaking targeted surveillance for emerging, high-risk viral variants developing overseas, aiming to help prevent their introduction into Australia.

Research interest

My team has two major parallel interests: fundamental parasite biology and advanced parasite diagnostics and epidemiology.

On the fundamental side, we use advanced sequencing technologies and bioinformatics to explore the genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics of major human parasites, including soil transmitted helminthes and major diarrhoeal pathogens (Giardia and Cryptosporidium).

We are particularly interested in: 

  • Hosts and parasites interaction at the immunological level
  • Parasite development in their host
  • Parasite resistance to common antiparasitic drugs

On the applied side, we develop quantitative real-time PCR assays to test for major parasites and other pathogens/microorganisms of relevance to the local water industry (for example Cryptosporidium and toxigenic cyanobacteria) and/or of relevance to global health (for example human gastrointestinal parasites).

We use these tools to assess transmission risk and to explore parasite epidemiology in developed and resource poor settings.

Exhibition visitor looking at an artwork

The Institute’s annual Art of Science exhibition has opened, with stunning images and videos captured by our researchers who are tackling some of the biggest challenges facing global health.

Researchers with freezer

The Pierce Armstrong Foundation has funded a 'cool' new piece of equipment for studies aiming to combat drug resistance in treating Giardia.

Two researchers with Melbourne Water representatives

On World Water Day, Melbourne Water and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute announced a joint research fellowship designed to improve the identification and control of water-borne illness.