Despite the extraordinary advances of the 20th century, old and new infectious diseases remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The Doherty Institute is a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health (The Royal Melbourne Hospital). Our vision is to be the world leader in responding to and managing infectious diseases.
- Professor Sharon Lewin
Director, Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
A world-class institute combining research into infectious disease and immunity with teaching excellence.
"... detect, investigate and respond to known and emerging infectious diseases ..."
The Doherty Institute is a world-class institute combining research, teaching, public health and reference laboratory services, diagnostic services and clinical care into infectious diseases and immunity.
The establishment of the Doherty Institute represents a radical change in the capacity of Australia and the world to detect, investigate and respond to existing, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and agents, with a major focus on diseases that pose serious public and global health threats such as influenza, tuberculosis, HIV, viral hepatitis and drug resistant bacteria. The Doherty’s activities are multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral, placing great emphasis on translational research and improving clinical outcomes. Teams of interdisciplinary scientists, clinicians and epidemiologists collaborate on a wide spectrum of activities - from basic immunology and discovery research, to the development of new vaccines and new preventative and treatment methods, to surveillance and investigation of disease outbreaks.
"... transforming the ability of scientists and clinicians to conduct research ..."
Located in the heart of Parkville’s biomedical precinct, the Doherty is a partnership between the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health. The Parkville Precinct is a great global research and teaching powerhouse and among the top five biomedical precincts in the world.
A powerhouse of 10,000 minds, the Parkville biomedical precinct is one the world’s top biomedical hubs, blending teaching, research and clinical practice. The sheer quantity of life sciences research facilities, institutes, researchers, clinicians, fellows and postgraduate students in the Parkville Precinct and surrounds, and the comprehensive breadth of bioscience disciplines, is without parallel in the Southern hemisphere and one of the few such concentrations of research excellence worldwide. The critical mass achieved through the co-location of so many leading global research institutes with major world-class hospitals, a great University and successful global industries, is a key factor fostering the collaborative research ecology and culture that is so characteristic of the Parkville Precinct. This is transforming the ability of scientists and clinicians to conduct research and training, enabling previously standalone research organisations to collaborate more effectively and accelerating research outcomes for the benefit of patients within Australia and around the world.
The Doherty Institute is named after immunologist Laureate Professor Peter Doherty. For over 50 years, Professor Doherty has dedicated his life to science with a vision to improve global health and wellbeing.
In 1996, Professor Doherty and his Swiss colleague Rolf Zinkernagel were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering how the immune system recognises virus-infected cells.
Professor Doherty was Australian of the Year in 1997 and has attracted many prestigious international awards, including the Paul Ehrlich Prize (1983), the Gairdner International Award for Medical Science (1986), and the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (1995). Professor Doherty is based at the University of Melbourne's Department of Microbiology and Immunology and since 1985 has been a member of the Department of Immunology at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
Among many other activities occupying his time, Professor Doherty is a prolific tweeter. Follow him at @ProfPCDoherty.
"... develop and test the vaccines and therapies of the future ..."
"...research informing public debate and clinical practice..."
The Doherty Institute is active in the media. Here is a selection of media coverage and releases.
18.11.14: One-health approach can combat increasing levels of antimicrobial resistance
17.11.14: Alliance to promote gender balance among research leaders
15.11.14: Congratulations Professor Sharon Lewin – Melburnian of the Year
16.10.14: New Institute for Infection and Immunity is well prepared to support Australia's response to Ebola
The Doherty in the Media
25.11.14 The Conversation What price a life? Hepatitis C drug out of reach for millions
22.11.14 ABC World Today (radio). Hitmen of the human body give up their secrets for fighting infection
22.11.14 Herald Sun. Melbourne Awards featuring Professor Sharon Lewin, Melburnian of the Year 2014 (subscription only)
18.11.14 The Lancet: HIV. Ebola and HIV: managing febrile times
17.11.14 ABC Health Report (Radio National). Antibiotic resistance
31.10.14 Up Close (University of Melbourne podcast) How HIV works at the cellular level
30.10.14 ABC World Today (radio) World Today
21.10.14 ABC Australia's ebola safety measures
16.10.14 The Age The front line against ebola in Australia
16.10.14 The Drum (ABC) Is ebola likely to become a global pandemic
06.10.14 The British Medical Journal (BMJ) Blog The challenge of infectious diseases
29.09.14 The Huffington Post Continuing the fight against infectious diseases
Great advances in science and medicine need teamwork. Collaboration is at the heart of the Doherty: working with the best people, using the best technology. All of the Doherty's researchers are top-level investigators who are collaborating with the best across the city, country and world.
The Doherty is working across the spectrum of biomedical science, public health, population and clinical science responding to known and emerging infectious diseases with the overall goal to develop and test novel vaccines and treatments.
"... The Doherty Institute is tackling some of the major communicable disease threats of our time ..."
"… strategies are needed to prevent, treat and ultimately cure HIV infection …"
Better strategies are needed to prevent, treat and ultimately cure HIV infection. There are 35 million people infected with HIV and over 2 million new infections a year.
Although there is effective treatment available, treatment is lifelong and comes at considerable cost. Therefore there is a need to understand why HIV persists in patients on antiviral therapy, which immune responses control HIV and how to improve diagnostics required for long term management of HIV. A better understanding of the basic biology of the immune response and virus replication will expand the pipeline to novel treatment and prevention strategies with the overall goal of developing a cure and a vaccine.
At the Doherty Institute we have projects to study where and how HIV persists in patients on treatment and how to wake up the virus from its hiding place. This work has the ultimate goal of finding a cure for HIV. We are also studying the immune response to HIV and how HIV can evade the body’s natural response, including antibodies and T-cells. We test for drug resistance mutations so that appropriate treatment choices can be made. We have projects developing novel vaccine strategies that include nanoparticles, where tiny capsules are loaded with bits of the virus to induce a powerful immune response. Other projects are exploring the use of microbicides to prevent HIV transmission.
"… there are over 450,000 Australians living with hepatitis B and C …"
Viral hepatitis is a major public health issue, with over 450,000 Australians living with hepatitis B and C. Liver cancer, predominantly caused by viral hepatitis, is the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide.
The Doherty Institute has a strong multidisciplinary research program that includes: understanding how these viruses replicate and the role the immune response plays, understanding how these viruses evade current treatments, how these viruses effect Indigenous communities and how they cause cancer. In addition, we are actively involved in new clinical trials for treatments, strategies to increase treatment uptake and epidemiological and public health research that informs policy in Australia and internationally.
"… tackling the challenges of seasonal and pandemic influenza …"
Seasonal influenza viruses cause many deaths and much illness in the community every winter. Although annual vaccination reduces this burden, seasonal influenza vaccines must be frequently updated to keep up with these rapidly changing viruses.
From time to time, novel influenza viruses emerge from animal reservoirs and spread rapidly around the world, causing a pandemic. The timing and severity of each pandemic are unpredictable but the human impact can be enormous. Seasonal influenza vaccines do not protect against these new viruses.
The Doherty Institute is tackling the challenges of seasonal and pandemic influenza across a wide front. A large multi-institutional research program is investigating the mechanisms underlying effective cellular immunity to influenza viruses and collaborating with clinicians and others to explore why certain groups of people (including Indigenous Australians, pregnant women and the elderly) experience particularly severe disease. The program is also developing prototype cross-protective vaccines that would reduce the need for frequent updating of seasonal vaccines and provide some protection against pandemic influenza. The WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza works with laboratories throughout the Asia-Pacific region to monitor changes in circulating influenza viruses and assists WHO in recommending viruses for the updating of seasonal influenza vaccines each year. Epidemiologists at the Doherty are undertaking GP-based community surveillance of influenza and evaluating influenza vaccine effectiveness. Doherty scientists also contribute to the development of local, national and international policy and pandemic influenza preparedness.
"… eliminating TB as a public health issue by 2050 …"
Tuberculosis (TB) remains amongst the most significant causes of death and disability around the world.
However, thanks to persistent TB control efforts for many decades, the World Health Organization recognises Australia as one of the countries in a position to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of eliminating TB as a public health issue by 2050. In order to do so, new approaches are needed, and teams across the Doherty are working together towards developing innovative and influential strategies that draw on the wide range of expertise within the Institute.
The Doherty provides a state-wide service for public health management of TB, including clinical care, epidemiology, contact tracing and rapid diagnosis of infection and drug resistance. There is an active program of population health and mathematical modelling research, assisting with evaluation of effective and ethical TB strategies both in Australia and internationally. Finally, basic research on TB includes understanding the TB genome and the immune response to TB.
The close collaboration amongst these groups with complementary expertise means that the Doherty is an exciting environment for developing and implementing novel, high-impact strategies towards global TB elimination.
"… better treatments and vaccines to prevent these infections …"
We are investigating transmission patterns of enterovirus infection in Australia and the Western Pacific region, and studying the molecular changes that accompany the emergence of new virulent strains of norovirus and other bacteria.
Research involving large-scale atomistic molecular dynamics simulations of poliovirus and other enteroviruses has been performed to examine specific mechanisms relating to antiviral resistance.
Major research projects in enteric infection include understanding what makes these organisms more virulent by understanding their genetic structure. Several research groups are studying the organisms that are the major causes of diarrhoea, including E. coli, Shigella, Salmonella, rotavirus and norovirus as well as the host immune response to infection. These studies could lead to better treatments and vaccines to prevent these infections.
"... in Australia there are over 200,000 healthcare-associated infections annually ..."
In Australia there are over 200,000 healthcare-associated infections annually (approximately 4% of all admissions), resulting in prolonged hospitalisation, significant morbidity and increased mortality. Hospital acquired pneumonia, surgical site infections, urinary tract infections, and blood stream infections are common examples and many are preventable.
Australia needs, and is developing, a comprehensive strategy to address this challenge. The partners in the Doherty Institute, with other collaborators, are leading initiatives for surveillance of infections in hospital settings. These studies will allow investigators to identify and characterise resistant bacteria and use state of the art genomics to map the evolution and understand why resistance is developing in order to design new antibiotic agents. Within the Doherty, infectious diseases physicians, pharmacists and epidemiologists are leading innovative programs on “antimicrobial stewardship” – the promotion of optimal use of antibiotics. Key relationships with other groups in the Parkville precinct include the School of Veterinary Science, the School of Land and Environment and the School of Pharmacy.
"... “super bugs” pose challenges in community and hospital settings ..."
Antimicrobial resistance is widely recognised as a global threat to human health, and listed by the World Health Organisation as a priority issue for our time.
Emerging multidrug resistant pathogens, commonly called “super bugs” pose challenges both in the community and hospital settings especially, for example, when intensive antibiotic therapy is required for the support of patients in intensive care units, after major surgery, and in the setting of immunosuppression for the treatment of cancer or transplantation.
"... eliminate the infection and develop immunological memory, the basis of successful vaccination ..."
The Doherty Institute has world-leading scientists working to understand how the human immune system recognises infectious agents and makes an effective response to eliminate the infection and develop immunological memory, the basis of successful vaccination. Collaboration with public health experts, laboratory scientists, epidemiologists and clinicians is bridging this work on immunological mechanisms to vaccine development, new treatments and improvements in population health.
Research at the Doherty Institute is exploring the fundamental ways cells of the immune system fight infections. We are studying the innate immune system, specialised T cells such as NKT cells and killer T cells and Mucosal Associated Invariant T (MAIT) cells. We are investigating the genes that control "memory" of the immune system. We are using exciting ways to directly image cells from the immune system in action, fighting infections in different parts of the body. These studies will one day lead to new treatments and new vaccines.
"... Australia’s leading infectious disease reference and public health laboratory ..."
The Doherty Institute provides Australia’s leading infectious disease reference and public health laboratory services through its Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) and Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory (MDU) and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza (VIDRL).
Issues of major significance are discussed in the corridors of the Doherty. We invite you to join the conversation.
Get in touch with the Doherty
The Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
(+61 3) 9035 3555
Senior Communications Officer
(+61 3) 8344 3377
(+61) 466 451 515
Executive Assistant to the Director
(+61 3) 8344 3159
792 Elizabeth St
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