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Our people-our expertise: Dr Ian Mackay

Our people-our expertise

Dr Ian Maxwell Mackay

Qualifications | Research interests | Publications | Presentations | Awards | Grants and funding | Memberships / Affiliations

Ian completed his undergraduate studies in Medical Laboratory Science at the Queensland University of Technology. Between 1992 and 2015 Ian’s experiences included that of a Research Assistant, a PhD student and a post-doctoral research group leader at the Queensland Paediatric Infectious Diseases Laboratory within the Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre, Queensland Health and The University of Queensland.

In 2015 Ian left research and moved to a Supervising Scientist role in Queensland Health, supporting the detection and characterisation of rare and emerging viral threats to public and environmental health.

Ian designs, validates and employs molecular techniques to support clinical and public health needs, helping to discover and characterise known, new, newly identified and rare viruses.

See more information about Dr Mackay at:


  • PhD in Virology: 'Investigations into the utility of real-time PCR for the detection, quantitation and characterisation of clinically relevant viruses'. University of Queensland School of Medicine, Brisbane, Queensland
  • Master of Science: 'The production of monoclonal antibodies to novel human herpesviruses'. University of Queensland School of Medicine, Central Clinical Division, Brisbane, Queensland
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Laboratory Science), Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland

Research interests and expertise

  • Virus detection, discovery and characterisation
  • Virus interactions
  • Picornaviruses, coronaviruses, influenza viruses, filoviruses
  • Emerging viruses
  • Writing and leveraging social media to inform and educate about all aspects of virology




Mackay IM, Arden KE (2017) An opportunistic pathogen afforded ample opportunities: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus. Viruses. 9 (12): E369. DOI: 10.3390/v9120369

Mackay IM, Arden KE (2016) Mayaro virus: a forest virus primed for a trip to the city? Microbes Infect. 18(12): 724-734. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2016.10.007

Mackay IM, Arden KE (2015) MERS coronavirus: diagnostics, epidemiology and transmission. Virology Journal, 12: 222. doi: 10.1186/s12985-015-0439-5

Mackay IM, Arden KE (2015) The Middle East respiratory syndrome puzzle: a familiar virus, a familiar disease, but some assembly still required. J Infect Public Health. 8(5):405-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jiph.2015.07.001

Mackay IM, Arden KE (2015) Middle East respiratory syndrome: an emerging coronavirus infection tracked by the crowd. Virus Res. 202:60-88. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2015.01.021

Miller EK, Mackay IM (2013) From sneeze to wheeze: what we know about rhinovirus Cs. J Clin Virol. 57(4):291-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2013.04.015


2020 (Mar 27) We know how long coronavirus survives on surfaces. Here's what it means for handling money, food and more. The Conversation.

2020 (Feb 14) There's no evidence the new coronavirus spreads through the air - but it's still possible. The Conversation.

2020 (Jan 23) Should we be worried about the new Wuhan coronavirus? The Conversation.

2019 (Jul 12) #Flunami: Calling for more public health research, Croakey.
and UQ

2018 (Feb 15) How the new mozzie emoji can create buzz to battle mosquito-borne disease. The Conversation.

2018 (Jan 12) ‘Aussie flu’? We can’t be sure where flu originates, and that doesn’t really matter anyway. The Conversation. 

2017 (Nov 2) Here's why the 2017 flu season was so bad. The Conversation. [accessed 8/11/2017]

2017 (Aug 18) This may not be the ‘biggest flu season on record’, but it is a big one – here are some possible reasons. The Conversation.

2017 (Jul 12) How we change the organisms that infect us. The Conversation.

2016 (Jul 20) The language of Zika virus testing. [accessed 9/2/2017]

2016 (May 25) As WHO warns of the rising threat of mosquito-borne diseases, Queensland scientists profile the response to Zika. Croakey. [accessed 9/2/2016]

2016 (Jun 1) How do frontline scientists respond to the threat of mosquito-borne viruses? UQ: Small Change. [accessed 9/2/2016]

2015 (Dec 30) Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS): A Primer. [accessed 9/2/2017]

2015 (Nov 23) Camels, cattle and coronavirus: the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus hunt must continue. [accessed 9/2/2017]

2015 (Nov 14) Public health and emerging disease outbreaks: why talking to the community is a good idea. [accessed 9/2/2017]

2014 (Sep 25) How ebola started, spread and spiralled out of control. The Conversation. [accessed 5/6/2015]

2014 (Jul 30) Middle East respiratory virus came from camels, not terrorists. The Conversation. [accessed 5/6/2015]


Mackay IM, Arden KE (2014) Rhinoviruses. In Kaslow RA, Stanberry LR, LeDuc JW (eds.) Viral infections of humans: epidemiology and control.  5th edition. Springer; pp. 675-712. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4899-7448-8

O'Grady, K-AF, Mackay IM, Chang AB (2014) Cough formation in viral infections in children. In Human respiratory viral infections. CRC Press, Taylor and Francis. pp. 71-90. doi: 10.1201/b16778

Bialsiewicz S, Mackay IM, Whiley DM, Sloots TP (2012) Protocol for the use of enzyme-linked hybridisation assays for genital ulcer disease. In MacKenzie CR, Henrich, B. (eds). Diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases: methods and protocols. Methods in Molecular Biology 93: 225-233. Humana Press. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-937-2_14

Arden KE, Mackay I M (2011) Rhinoviruses. In eLS. John Wiley & Sons. doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000431.pub3



Lu J, Yang Z, Karawita AC, Bunte M, Chew KY, Pegg C, Mackay IM, Whiley D, Short KR, (2021) Limited evidence for the role of environmental factors in the unusual peak of influenza in Brisbane during the 2018-2019 Australian summer. Science of the Total Environment,  776. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145967


McMahon J, Northill JA, Finger M,Lyon M, Lambert SB, Mackay IM, (2020) Laboratory methods supporting measles surveillance in Queensland, Australia, 2010–2017. Access Microbiology


Ramirez AL, van den Hurk AF, Mackay IM, Yang ASP, Hewitson GR, McMahon J, Boddey JA,  Ritchie SA, Erickson SM (2019) Malaria surveillance from both ends: concurrent detection of Plasmodium falciparum in saliva and excreta harvested from Anopheles mosquitoes. Parasites & Vectors, 12(1), pp.1-10. DOI: 10.1186/s13071-019-3610-9

McMahon J, Mackay IM, Lambert SB (2019) Measles vaccine virus RNA in children more than 100 days after vaccination. bioRxiv, p.548701. DOI: 10.3390/v11070636

McMahon J, Mackay IM, Lambert SB (2019) Measles vaccine virus RNA in children more than 100 days after vaccination. Viruses, 11 (7). p. 636. DOI: 10.3390/v11070636


McMahon J, Northill JA, Finger M, Lyon MJ, Lambert SB, Mackay IM (2018) Laboratory methods supporting measles surveillance in Queensland, Australia, 2010-2017. bioRxiv. DOI:

Pyke AT, Gunn W, Taylor C, Mackay I, McMahon J, Jelley L, Waite B, May F. (2018) On the home front: specialised reference resting for dengue in the Australasian region. Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease, 3(3), 75. DOI: 10.3390/tropicalmed3030075

Smith-Vaughan HC, Binks MJ, Beissbarth J, Chang AB, McCallum GB, Mackay IM, Morris PS, Marsh RL, Torzillo PJ, Wurzel DF, Grimwood K, Nosworthy E, Gaydon JE, Leach AJ, MacHunter B, Chatfield MD, Sloots TP, Cheng AC. (2018) Bacteria and viruses in the nasopharynx immediately prior to onset of acute lower respiratory infections in Indigenous Australian children. European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, 37(9), p.1785-1794. DOI: 10.1007/s10096-018-3314-7

Taylor CT, Mackay IM, McMahon JL, Wheatley SL, Moore PR, Finger MJ, Hewitson GR, Moore FA. (2018) Detection of specific ZIKV IgM in travelers using a multiplexed flavivirus microsphere immunoassay. Viruses. 2018 May 12;10(5). pii: E253. DOI: 10.3390/v10050253

McNeale D, Wang CYT, Arden KE, Mackay IM (2018) HPeV-3 predominated among Parechovirus A positive infants during an outbreak in 2013-2014 in Queensland, Australia. Journal of Clinical Virology, 98: 28-32. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcv.2017.12.003


Northill JA, Finger M, Lyon MJ, Mackay IM (2017) Japanese encephalitis virus real-time RT-PCR. DOI: 10.17504/

Teoh L, Mackay IM, Van Asperen PP, Acworth JP, Hurwitz M, Upham JW, Siew WH, Wang CYT, Sloots TP, Neeman T, Chang AB. (2017) Presence of atopy increases the risk of asthma relapse. Archives of DIsease in Childhood, 103(4) DOI: 10.1136/archdischild-2017-312982

He C, Mackay IM, Ramsay K, Liang Z, Kidd T, Knibbs LD, Johnson G, McNeale D, Stockwell R, Coulthard MG, Long DA, Williams TJ, Duchaine C, Smith N, Wainwright C, Morawska L (2017) Particle and bioaerosol characteristics in a paediatric intensive care unit. Environment International 107: 89-99. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.06.020

Arden KE, Shaban B, Nimmo G, Nissen MD, Sloots TP, Mackay IM (2017) Detection of Toscana virus from an adult traveller returning to Australia with encephalitis. Journal of Medical Virology, 89(10):1861-1864. DOI: 10.1002/jmv.24839


Hall-Mendelin S, Pyke AT, Moore PR, Mackay IM, McMahon J, Ritchie SA, Taylor CT, Moore F, van den Hurk AF (2016) Assessment of local mosquito species incriminates Aedes aegypti as the potential vector of Zika Virus in Australia. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases,10(9): e0004959. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004959

Sarna M, Alsaleh A, Lambert SB, Ware RS, Mhango LP, Mackay IM, Whiley DM, Sloots TP, Grimwood K (2016) Respiratory viruses in neonates: a prospective, community-based birth cohort study. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 35(12): 1355-1357. DOI: 10.1097/INF.0000000000001316

Furuya-Kanamori L, Cox M, Milinovich GJ, Magalhaes RJ, Mackay IM, Yakob L (2016) Heterogeneous and dynamic prevalence of asymptomatic influenza virus infections. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 22(6):1052-6. DOI: 10.3201/eid2206.151080


McCallum GB, Morris PS, Grimwood K, Maclennan C, White AV, Chatfield MD, Sloots TP, Mackay IM, Smith-Vaughan H, McKay CC, Versteegh LA, Jacobsen N, Mobberley C, Byrnes CA, Chang AB (2015) Three-weekly doses of azithromycin for indigenous infants hospitalised with bronchiolitis: a multicentre, randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 3:32. DOI: 10.3389/fped.2015.00032

Arden KE, Beatson SA, Lambert SB, Wang CYT, McVernon J, Nissen MD, Nolan T, Sloots TP, Mackay IM (2015) Deep sequence characterisation of a divergent HPIV-4a from an adult with prolonged influenza-like illness. Virology Reports. 5: 19-28. DOI: 10.1016/j.virep.2015.02.001

Mackay IM, Arden KE (2015) Ebola virus in the semen of convalescent men. Lancet Infectious Diseases, 15(2):149-50. DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(14)71033-3


Whiley DM, Mackay IM, Nimmo GR, Sloots TP, Nissen MD (2014) Enhancing influenza diagnostics to catch a shifting target. Lancet Infectious Diseases, 14(10):923. DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70916-8

Kapur N, Mackay IM, Sloots TP, Masters IB, Chang A (2014) Role of respiratory viruses in exacerbations of non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis in children. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 99(8):749-53. DOI: 10.1136/archdischild-2013-305147

Wurzel DF, Mackay IM, Marchant JM, Wang CY, Yerkovich ST, Upham JW, Smith-Vaughan HC, Petsky HL, Chang AB (2014) Adenovirus species C is associated with chronic suppurative lung diseases in children. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 59(1):34-40. DOI: 10.1093/cid/ciu225

Wurzel DF, Marchant J, Yerkovich S, Upham J, Mackay IM, Masters IB, Chang A (2014) Prospective characterisation of protracted bacterial bronchitis (PBB) in children. Chest. 145(6):1271-8. DOI: 10.1378/chest.13-2442


Mackay IM, Lambert SB, Faux CE, Arden KE, Nissen MD, Sloots TP, Nolan TM (2013) Community-wide, contemporaneous circulation of a broad spectrum of picornaviruses in health Australian preschool-aged children during a 12-month period. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 207(9):1433-41. DOI: 10.1093/infdis/jis476

Ferguson PE, Gilroy NM, Faux CE, Mackay IM, Sloots TP, Nissen M.D., Dwyer, D.E., Sorrell, T.C. (2013) Human rhinovirus C in adult haematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients with respiratory illness. J Clin Virol. 56(3):255-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcv.2012.11.010

Chang AB, Grimwood K, Wilson AC, van Asperen PP, Byrnes CA, O'Grady KA, Sloots TP, Robertson CF, Torzillo PJ, McCallum GB, Masters I.B., Buntain H.M., Mackay I.M., Ungerer J., Tuppin J., Morris P.S. (2013) Bronchiectasis exacerbation study on azithromycin and amoxicillin-clavulanate for respiratory exacerbations in children (BEST-2): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials. 14: 53. DOI: 10.1186/1745-6215-14-53

Mackay IM, Wang CYT., Sloots TP (2013) Circularizing picornavirus genomes to rapidly obtain terminal sequence. Journal of Clinical Virology, 58(1):286-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcv.2013.04.020

Arden KE, Mackay IM (2013) Avian influenza A (H7N9) virus: can it help us more objectively judge all respiratory viruses? J Clin Virol. 58(1):338-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcv.2013.05.015

Chappell KJ, Brealey JC, Mackay IM, Bletchly C, Hugenholtz P, Sloots TP, Sly PD, Young PR. (2013) Respiratory syncytial virus infection is associated with increased bacterial load in the upper respiratory tract in young children. J Medical Microbiol Diagnosis. S1:005. DOI:10.4172/2161-0703.S1-005

McCallum GB, Morris PS, Chatfield MD, Maclennan C, White AV, Sloots TP, Mackay IM, Chang AB (2013) A single dose of azithromycin does not improve clinical outcomes of children hospitalised with bronchiolitis: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. PLoS ONE. 8(9):e74316. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074316

Wurzel DF, Marchant JM, Clark JE, Mackay IM, Wang CY, Sloots TP, Upham JW, Yerkovich ST, Masters IB, Baker PJ, Anderson-James S., Chang A.B. (2013) Respiratory virus detection in nasopharyngeal aspirate versus bronchoalveolar lavage is dependent on virus type. Journal of Clinical Virology .58(4):683-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcv.2013.09.016

Dudley JP, Mackay IM (2013) Age-specific and sex-specific morbidity and mortality from avian influenza A (H7N9). Journal of Clinical Virology, 58(3): 568-70. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcv.2013.09.004


Lambert SB, Ware RS, Cook AL, Maguire FA, Whiley DM, Bialasiewicz S, Mackay IM, Wang D, Sloots TP, Nissen MD, Grimwood K (2012) The observational research in childhood infectious diseases (ORChID) study. BMJ Open. 2(6). pii: e002134. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002134

Chang AB, Grimwood K, Robertson CF, Wilson AC, van Asperen PP, O'Grady KA, Sloots TP, Torzillo PJ, Bailey EJ, McCallum GB, Masters I.B., Byrnes C.A., Chatfield M.D., Buntain H.M., Mackay I.M., Morris P.S. (2012) Antibiotics for bronchiectasis exacerbations in children: rationale and study protocol for a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Trials. 13:156. DOI: 10.1186/1745-6215-13-156

Mackay IM, Arden KE, Speicher DJ, O'Neil NT, McErlean PK, Greer RM, Nissen MD, Sloots TP (2012) Co-circulation of four human coronaviruses (HCoVs) in Queensland children with acute respiratory tract illnesses in 2004. Viruses 4(4):637-53. DOI: 10.3390/v4040637

Wang CY, Arden KE, Greer R, Sloots TP, Mackay IM (2012) A novel duplex real-time PCR for HPIV-4 detects co-circulation of both viral subtypes among ill children during 2008. Journal of Clinical Virology, 54(1): 83-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcv.2012.01.013

Contact Dr Mackay for a full list of publications prior to 2012.


Aug 2019: Invited speaker, National Science Week, #Flunami 2019: more testing or more complex? FSS, Coopers Plains, Qld

Nov 2018: Invited speaker, Enterovirus (EV): testing and typing, Public Health Medical Officers Face-to-face, Herston Qld.

Aug 2018: Invited speaker, National Science Week, Ebola, research, agility and coffee, FSS, Coopers Plains, Qld

Apr 2018: Invited speaker, Zika Mozzie Seeker immersion day: Griffith University EcoCentre, Qld

Nov 2016: Invited speaker, Point-of-care testing for acute respiratory infections, 3rd Queensland Forum on Antimicrobial Resistance, Brisbane, Qld.

Sep 2016: Invited speaker Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, International Congress for Tropical Medicine and Malaria, Brisbane, Qld.

Sep 2016: Invited speaker Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, PEH Forum, FSS

Dec 2015: Invited presenter/WHO-EMRO technical advisor, First WHO-EMRO training workshop on MERS-CoV laboratory diagnostics, Dubai, UAE.

Mar 2015: Invited speaker, Pandemic threats, Influenza specialist group. Melbourne, Vic.

Sep 2014: Invited speaker, Workshop-Social Media and your Research Profile, University of Queensland Library. St Lucia, Qld.

Aug 2014: Judge, Healthfusion Team Challenge, Queensland University of Technology. Brisbane, Qld..

Jul 2014: Invited speaker, Centre for Research Excellence in Lung Health of ATSI Children, Queensland Children's Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Qld.

Mar 2014: Invited speaker, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), 4th Molecular Microbiology meeting, Sydney, NSW.

Feb 2014: Invited speaker, Pandemic threats, Influenza specialist group, Melbourne, Vic.

Jun 2012: Invited speaker, Rhinoviruses-Viruses in May, Blue Mountains, NSW.

2011: Invited speaker, Australian Society of Microbiology Conference, New and emerging viruses. Hobart, Tas.

2000-2014: > 65 poster and oral presentations


  • 2007: John Pope SASVRC Scientist Award.
  • 2006: Australian Society for Medical Research, Queensland Premier's Post-doctoral Award for Health and Medical Research.

Grants and funding

  • Anti-viral immunity in asthma: a detailed assessment of TLR7 function and the regulation of interferon a/B synthesis AI, NHMRC, 2014-2017, $636,894
  • Reducing the diagnostic gap in central nervous system (CNS) infections CIA, Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre, 2014, $10,000
  • Airborne infection mechanisms in paediatric intensive care and high dependency QUT Collaborative Research Development Grant Scheme, Aug 2013-Aug 2014, $29,982
  • How transmissible is influenza by the airborne route? QUT Collaborative Research Development Grant Scheme, Aug 2013-Aug 2014, $29,992
  • Understanding the mechanisms responsible for abnormal anti-viral immunity in asthma. CIC, NHMRC APP1046622; 2013-15, $499,393
  • Metagenomic sequencing of upper and lower airway specimens to characterise bacteria and viruses associated with chronic suppurative lung disease in Indigenous Australian children. Associate Investigator Ramaciotti Establishment Grant, #ES2012/0032 2013-2014, $75,000
  • Identifying the microbiological risk factors for acute lower respiratory infection in Indigenous children to inform future intervention strategies CID, NHMRC, 2012-2014, APP1023781, $479,734
  • The airway epithelium in paediatric respiratory diseases AI, UWA-UQ Bilateral Research Collaboration, 2012, $16,300
  • Seeking causes of unexplained respiratory illness in children by identifying new respiratory viruses. CIA, ARC, 2011-2013 (extended to December 2014), DP110100881, $245,000
  • Identification and clinical impact of non-rhinovirus picornaviruses in acute respiratory illness. CIA, QCMRI, 2011-2013 extended to June 2014) Established Researcher Project #50028, $300,000
  • Molecular microbiology and epidemiology of respiratory infections in children AI, QCMRI Program Grant #50006, 2010-2014, $1,356,930
  • Do viruses influence the severity of, and recovery from acute asthma exacerbation in children? AI, Asthma Foundation of Queensland, 2010
  • Burden of respiratory infection in the first 2 years of life: a birth cohort study of emerging respiratory pathogens. AI, NHMRC, APP615700, 2010-2014, $1,135,000
  • Viral burden in infants with Cystic Fibrosis. AI, Australian Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust, 2010, $91,906
  • Rhinovirus hunting: new strains and their role in respiratory illness. CIA, Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation, 2009-2010 #10281, $150,000

Contact Dr Mackay for a full list of grants and funding prior to 2010.

Dr Ian Maxwell Mackay
Supervising Scientist, Test Development &
Public and Environmental Health