Purnima Bhat is a Senior Research Fellow at the ANU Medical School. She is a Gastroenterologist currently practicing at Canberra Gastoenterology, Deakin. Purnima obtained her undergraduate medical qualifications at the University of Queensland before moving to Melbourne where she worked at the Austin Hospital, Gastroenterology and Liver Transplantation unit. She completed her specialisation there in Internal Medicine in Gastroenterology and Hepatology. She received her PhD from Melbourne University working on transcytosis of Hepatitis B Virus in epithelial cells at the MacFarlane Burnet Institute.
Purnima extended this work to examining vesicular exocytosis in pancreatic acinar cells, particularly by 2-photon microscopy at the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland. She then moved to the Diamantina Institute to work with Ian Frazer examining mechanisms by which CD8 T cell kill keratinocytes expressing human papillomavirus cancer antigens, particularly using live imaging systems.
Her current interests focus on the mucosal immune system of the gut, particularly antigen presentation to effector T cells in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer and liver diseases such as HBV. She also collaborates on projects investigating transmission of HBV from mother to infant in utero.
Since 2015, Purnima has been a sitting member of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Ethics Committee which oversees the creation, maintenance and use of publically held databases of health and welfare information on Australians.
Immunology of the gut
Maternal-infant HBV transmission