The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


05 Dec 2023

Associate Professor Linda Wakim’s project named among NHMRC’s 10 of the Best

The research project title ‘Harnessing the power of natural immunity to extend vaccine protection’, led by University of Melbourne’s Associate Professor Linda Wakim, an NHMRC Investigator Fellow and Laboratory Head at the Doherty Institute, is one of the ten projects chosen from among the thousands of NHMRC-funded medical research projects underway in Australia.

Every year, the NHMRC’s “10 of the Best” publication acknowledges exceptional researchers and their teams around Australia and showcases ten outstanding health and medical research projects funded under NHMRC’s grant programs.

Associate Professor Wakim’s research focuses on using the body’s immune defence system to improve vaccines by providing longer-lasting protection against viruses. In this project, Associate Professor Wakim and her team set out to develop a flu vaccine that would be effective for a decade instead of requiring yearly updates, and which would offer long-lasting protection against a broader range of influenza virus strains.

After years of research, the team found that placing memory T-cells in the upper respiratory tract effectively blocks an inhaled influenza virus from reaching the lung, which in turn prevented the development of severe pulmonary disease.

“We are now in a position where we can leverage the knowledge, we have gained from the many years of performing basic research to design new and improved influenza vaccines, which will save lives, reduce health care costs, and reduce lost economic productivity,” said Associate Professor Wakim.

"The team is currently optimising formulations, and we hope to test these candidates in vivo within the next 12 months, ultimately translating the findings from the basic research project to development of an intranasal influenza vaccine candidate.”

NHMRC CEO Professor Steve Wesselingh said the 10 of the Best – Fourteenth Edition gives much-deserved recognition to the researchers who strive towards improving the health and wellbeing of all Australians.

“The future of Australia’s health and medical research sector is in good hands with researchers, such as the ten featured in this publication, who are leading the way in their respective fields,” said Professor Wesselingh.

“Congratulations to the researchers and their teams profiled for their outstanding work and achievements, we thank you for your dedication in supporting NHMRC’s vision of building a healthy Australia.”

Visit the NHMRC website to read the 10 of the Best NHMRC research projects – Fourteenth Edition and find out more about the 10 Australian health and medical research projects chosen for this edition.