University of Melbourne Dr Sarah Londrigan had hit a technical hurdle in her research.
She and her team research influenza. Specifically, they’re trying to understand why highly pathogenic strains, such as H5N1 avian influenza, hijack the immune system and cause such severe disease.
“The ultimate aim is to identify the specific viral factors that make the flu virus grow in immune cells or not,” says Dr Londrigan.
“We want to firstly understand how the immune cells can stop flu virus from replicating, and secondly, how highly pathogenic strains of flu virus that cause severe disease can escape control by immune cells if they’re particularly nasty.”
But they hit a roadblock, which can be somewhat deflating in the research world.
Then Dr Londrigan was invited to speak at the Doherty Institute’s Work in Progress Seminar Series, an initiative of the Host Pathogen Interactions theme, which focuses on developing stories from within the Institute that would benefit from early exposure and feedback.
“You might be feeling a bit flat because your experiments aren’t working and they’re taking a long time. But as in my case, to present at this seminar and have everyone really enthusiastic about your work, really gives you the momentum to continue with your project,” says Dr Londrigan.
So impressive was Dr Londrigan’s presentation that she was awarded seed funding from the organisers to obtain the parts of the virus they needed to continue their research.
“It really helped us to push the project along and it opened up cross collaboration with other staff across the Institute.”