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Professor Sharon Lewin

Professor Sharon Lewin

Professor Sharon Lewin

(03) 8344 3159 | [email protected]

Director - The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
Hepatitis , HIV, Immunology
Lab Group(s):
Lewin/Cameron Group

Professor Sharon Lewin is the inaugural Director of the Doherty Institute. She leads a large multi-disciplinary research team that focuses on understanding why HIV persists on treatment and developing clinical trials aimed at ultimately finding a cure for HIV infection and understanding how HIV interacts with other common co-infections, including hepatitis B virus (HBV). She is a consultant infectious diseases physician at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Practitioner Fellow. She was recently appointed to the NHMRC Council and the Chair of the Health Translation Advisory Committee. Sharon was previously Head, Department of Infectious Diseases, the Alfred Hospital and Monash University (2003 – 2014) and Co-head, Centre for Biomedical Research, Burnet Institute (2010-2014). Sharon was the local co-chair of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS2014) held in Melbourne in July 2014, which was the largest health and development conference ever hosted in Australia. She is on the leadership team of the International AIDS Society’s Strategy Towards an HIV Cure and is Chair of the Australian Government Ministerial Advisory Committee on Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Infections. Sharon is a Chief investigator for the APPRISE Centre of Research Excellence, which is developing research to inform Australia’s emergency response to infectious diseases 

  • Key Achievements
    • Sharon has published over 200 manuscripts and has received continuous funding from the NHMRC since 1993. She receives over three million dollars per year in competitive research funding from the Australian, US, Danish and Malaysian governments, private foundations including the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and has multiple collaborations with industry partners. She has received multiple national and international awards for her HIV-related research and community engagement. In 2014, she was named Melburnian of the Year – an annual award from the City of Melbourne to an inspirational role model who has made an outstanding contribution to the city in their chosen field.

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    • HIV and co-infections

      Co-infections with viral or bacterial pathogens cause significant morbidity in patients with HIV. In the case of HIV/HBV co-infection, morbidity and mortality secondary to liver disease is greatly increased compared to those infected with HBV or HIV alone. Mortality remains elevated even after treating both the HIV and HBV virus. The HBV Immunology Lab investigates the mechanism of how HIV can accelerate liver disease in patients co-infected with HBV. They hypothesise that this occurs by combined effects of HIV and HBV on inflammation in the liver. These studies could potentially lead to new treatments for liver disease. In addition they have a long-standing interest in developing novel assays to characterise the immune response to other important HIV co-infections, including cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Cryptococcus.

    • HIV Latency Reversing Agents

      The biggest hurdle in curing HIV infection in an individual is that the virus remains dormant in some populations of cells, hiding from the immune system and the cocktail of antiviral drugs. This is described as HIV latency and poses a major barrier to curing HIV. The Lewin-Cameron Lab’s research focuses on agents that ‘wake up’ dormant HIV hiding in the body and reverse HIV latency. One group of drugs they strongly focus on is histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi).

    • HIV Reservoir Virology

      The HIV Reservoir Virology group’s major focus is on unravelling the viral determinants of HIV latency. They use innovative virological techniques to understand how the virus can persist on ART using CD4+ T-cells from HIV-infected individuals on ART. The reservoir virology group also has a major interest in developing assays to better quantify HIV persistence on antiretroviral therapy.

    • HIV-related immune reconstitution and immune activation

      Following antiretroviral therapy, CD4+ T-cells recover but often don’t recover to normal levels and immune activation can persist. Although patients are no longer at risk of AIDS associated illnesses, they are at increased risk of other diseases including cardiovascular disease, neurological disease and malignancy. The Lewin-Cameron lab is interested in determining novel host factors that influence immune reconstitution including genetic factors.

    • Dendritic cells and immunomodulation in HIV

      Dendritic cell-T cell interactions in different tissues are critical in generating T cell immunity and this interaction is important in controlling productive HIV infection and latency in the T cells.  The Lewin-Cameron Lab are exploring how different types of dendritic cells can control the establishment, reversal and maintenance of HIV latency.  One major interest of this group is the role of immune check points and their blockade in DC-induced HIV latency.

    Research Groups
    • Lewin/Cameron Group

      The main focus of the Lewin-Cameron laboratory is to understand why HIV infection persists on antiretroviral therapy, to develop new strategies to eliminate latency and to define the biological determinants of immune reconstitution and factors that drive liver disease in HIV-hepatitis B virus co-infection.

      Lab Team

      Lewin/Cameron Group

      • Associate Professor Paul Cameron
        Joint Lab head
      • Dr Jasminka Sterjovski
        Research Manager
      • Julia Stout
        Project Manager
      • Dr Jennifer Audsley
        Post-doctoral Research Fellow
      • Dr Jenny Anderson
        Post-doctoral Research Fellow
      • Dr Vanessa Evans
        Post-doctoral Research Fellow
      • Dr Renee van de Sluis
        Post-doctoral Research Fellow
      • Dr Jori Symons
        Post-doctoral Research Fellow
      • Dr Michael Roche
        Post-doctoral Fellow
      • Ajantha Rhodes
        Lab Manager
      • Surekha Tennakoon
        Research Officer
      • Ashanti Dantanarayana
        Research Assistant
      • Simin Rezaei
        PhD student
      • Dr Kasha Singh
        PhD student
      • Talia Mota
        PhD student
      • Dr Michelle Yong
        PhD student
      • Dr Matthew Pitman
        PhD student
      • Youry Kim
        PhD student
      • Zuwena Richardson
        PhD student
      • Ashish Nair
        Casual RA
      • Haoming Liu
      • Wei Zhao
        Research Fellow
      • Jared Stern
        Honours Student

Full University of Melbourne profile