Dr Purnima Bhat

Senior Research Officer, Gastroenterologist
ANU College of Health and Medicine
T: 61 2 6244 4057

Areas of expertise

  • Gastroenterology And Hepatology 110307
  • Tumour Immunology 110709
  • Virology 060506

Research interests

HBV diagnosis and therapy in LMIC
Point-of-care tests for rapid diagnostics in medicine
Mucosal immunology
The Gut/Liver axis
Development of novel therapies for Hepatitis B Virus
Development of immunotherapy for GI cancers
Live imaging using in vitro and in vivo techniques




Purnima Bhat is a Senior Research Fellow at the ANU Medical School. She is a practicing clinical Gastroenterologist with appointments at Canberra Hospital, and at Canberra Gastoenterology. Purnima obtained her medical degree at the University of Queensland and specialised in Gastroenterology and Liver Transplantation at the Austin Hospital, Melbourne. She received her PhD from the University of Melbourne for research on Hepatitis B Virus at the Burnet Institute.

Purnima's research interests focus on mucosal immunology in the gut. Her lab works in translational medicine with a view to the development of novel therapies for diseases such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and viral hepatitis. Her laboratory has developed in vitro and animal models for the examining the gut immune system and applies these methods to investigate the behaviour of diseases in patients.

She has a translational lab that develops novel methods to redcuce health care delivery costs in developing countries, such as novel point-of-care tests for hepatitis B infection.

Purnima is a member of the World Endoscopy Organisation African Outreach Committee which promotes gastroenterology teaching and research in Africa. WEO has now developed and supported several new centres including flagship endoscopy sites in Nairobi and Addis Ababa. https://www.worldendo.org/



Researcher's projects

Investigating the immune system in bowel cancer

Role of the gut in HBV transmission and pathogenesis

Development of point-of-care diagnositics



Available student projects

  • Develop a murine orthotopic model for CRC and investigate the role of immune modulation in vivo in this model. (laboratory-based, mice work)
    Tumours are created in the mouse colon by direct colonoscopy and monitored by imaging and by biopsy to directly investigate the effects of interventions such as diet, immune modulation and treatment.
  • The role of platelets as biomarkers in liver disease (laboratory-based, patients)
    latelets have many functions including immune modulation and are markedly affected by liver disease. Platlets from patients with liver disease will be examined for markers of disease activity.

Current student projects

Development of a point-of-care test to evaluate HBV DNA. (Srivatsava)

Past student projects

Dietary changes and the tumour microenvironoment in mouse models of colorectal cancer. (Derek Weinert)

The distribution of microsatellite instability mutations in colorectal cancer (Michael Impelido, 2018)

The distribution of microsatellite instability mutations in colorectal cancer (Jiaxue Ruan, 2017)

Monocyte-derived Macrophages in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Ingrid Vennonen, 2015)


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Updated:  07 June 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers