Dr Purnima Bhat is a gastroenterologist and physician-scientist.

She studied medicine at the University of Queensland, before moving to Melbourne where she obtained her specialist qualifications. She trained at the Austin Hospital in the Department of Gastroenterology and Liver Transplantation with a special interest in liver disease. Dr Bhat obtained her doctorate in the field of hepatitis B virus transmission at the MacFarlane Burnet Institute, Melbourne.

Dr Bhat joined Prof Ian Frazer’s laboratory at the Diamantina Institute, Queensland, where she investigated immune mechanisms involved in developing immunotherapy for cancer using imaging and transplantation techniques in mouse models. She developed an interest in gut permeability and immune changes in patients with liver disease as a clinician at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane during this time.

Dr Bhat spent several months in the mucosal immunology and gastroenterology department at Imperial College London studying immune cells in the colon. She heads a lab at Canberra Hospital and the Australian National University which is developing novel rapid tests for investigating HBV for use in resource-limited settings and novel biomarkers of increased intestinal permeability.

Dr Bhat is frequently asked to present at national and international conferences and meetings. She has published numerous top-ranking research papers in her field and she has been awarded research prizes, scholarships and grants of over $1,600,000 to date. She has ongoing collaborations with St Mark’s Hospital and Imperial College London, UK, Oslo University, Norway, Hospital St Louis, Paris, France, as well as national collaborations with the Burnet Institute and University of Melbourne.

She is a member of the World Endoscopy Organisation African Outreach Committee that aims to foster endoscopy services to developing nations in Africa. Dr Bhat teaches endoscopy  and mentors research to new trainees in Ethiopia and Kenya.

Dr Bhat is a Staff Specialist at the Canberra Hospital Gastroenterology and Hepatology department. She has a private practice at Canberra Gastroenterology, Deakin. She cares for patients with complex gastrointestinal and liver diseases and performs endoscopic procedures including gastroscopy, colonoscopy, and balloon enterography.

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