Ivan’s life-saving legacy

20 December 2022

In early 2023 SA Pathology will bid farewell to Dr Ivan Bastian, Clinical Director of the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Directorate (MID).

Ivan has been a major contributor to SA Pathology. He’s been involved in the innovation of SA Pathology’s diagnostic services from the use of hand-written processes for recording bacteriological laboratory results when he first started, to now using whole genome sequencing, spectral analysis, and fully automated tests as standard in the diagnostic process. He’s also been critical to SA Pathology’s outstanding response to the COVID-19 pandemic, never losing sight of why he does what he does, and he remains proud of the diagnostic service he’s provided to patients in South Australia.

Ivan is clinically and research trained. He undertook research training at the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin investigating human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) and Donovanosis (a genital ulcerative disease) in the Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory, before commencing his microbiology registrar training in the Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH). Changes to staffing at RDH in late 1995 left him without an appropriate supervisor, and SA Pathology are fortunate that a position was immediately available within IMVS as it was then known. A Neil Hamilton Fairley Fellowship in 1998 took him to the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, an internationally renowned centre of tuberculosis (TB) research, where he spent 2 years immersed in their TB Laboratory programs.

On his return to SA Pathology Ivan continued to develop his passion for helping others through pathology. In addition to his day job, Ivan focussed his efforts on helping our most vulnerable communities, particularly in the management of TB and mycobacterium in Australia and beyond. Through the efforts of Ivan and others, SA Pathology’s Mycobacterium Reference Laboratory has been recognised as a World Health Organisation Supranational TB Reference Laboratory and MID continue to support TB testing in the Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Kirabati, and Vietnam. Ivan advocates for state-of-the-art TB testing services across Oceania in the research literature and on key committees – he has served as the Public Health Laboratory Network representative on the National TB Advisory Committee for two decades. He was involved in the development of practical manuals to help others establish TB testing facilities. These manuals, developed at SA Pathology, have been adopted by the WHO, translated into many languages, and remain widely used today. The manual on TB Laboratory safety includes sections on how to use and reuse N95 masks in the laboratory, proving very useful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MID’s work in TB has made a real difference and is possibly best seen in the proliferation of accredited TB testing laboratories in our neighbouring countries. Indonesia now has more than 14 accredited laboratories for TB susceptibility testing– a significant increase from no such laboratories just 7 years ago – and MID staff have been instrumental in their establishment.

Ivan has created a proud legacy that speaks to excellence in applied research and public health research; nearly half of his research publications document MID’s work in TB. Ivan and his colleagues, including Richard Lumb, Lisa Shephard, Mark Fitz-Gerald and Rick Stapledon have applied their diverse knowledge, experience and expertise to a pressing public health problem in our region and developed effective strategies to address the need.

Ivan’s drive to make a difference, particularly to the health and wellbeing of people through excellence in diagnostics, continual innovation and in finding solutions to pressing health issues has had a profound impact both in Australia and internationally. His legacy is extraordinary; thank you Ivan and enjoy your retirement.

General News


Blood matters: a GP’s guide to Haematological care

SA Pathology in collaboration with Sonder recently hosted a ...


Thyroid Testing

The thyroid sits at the base of the throat and incorporates ...


Urinary tract infections

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are a common occurrence; 60%...


October is Australia’s Breast Cancer Awareness month

We spoke with Dr Amardeep Gilhotra about SA Pathology resear...


Farewell to Sophia Otto

As Dr Sophia Otto, our Clinical Service Director, is prepari...