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20 May 2022

Dr Marios Koutsakos announced as inaugural recipient of the Locarnini-Morningside Fellowship in Virology

The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) has awarded Dr Marios Koutsakos the inaugural Locarnini-Morningside Fellowship in Virology.

The prestigious Fellowship honours Professor Stephen Locarnini by providing support to a talented early to mid-career researcher who is specialising in the field of virology, and was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Morningside Foundation.

Dr Koutsakos, a Research Fellow in the laboratory of Professor Stephen Kent at the Doherty Institute, said he was honoured to be named the Locarnini-Morningside Fellow.

“It is an incredible opportunity that will enable me to undertake cutting-edge virology research,” Dr Koutsakos said.

“I am grateful to the Morningside Foundation for their support, and the Doherty Institute for awarding me the Fellowship.”

Dr Koutsakos will use the Fellowship to further his research into understanding how the immune system recognises influenza B viruses and how the virus changes to escape antibody responses.

“I hope to gain novel insights that may facilitate the development of an influenza B vaccine that does not require annual reformation,” Dr Koutsakos said.

The Morningside Foundation has a long history of supporting science and enabling education through philanthropic donations, beginning in 1996 with the establishment of the Morningside Centre for Mathematics.

Their philanthropic efforts now benefit a global audience and include providing 500 scholarships annually to allow underprivileged students to attend top universities and gifting $350 million to Harvard University to support its School of Public Health.

Dr Gerald Chan, Chairman and CEO of the Morningside Foundation said that the Foundation honors Professor Locarnini.

“He has done so much in advancing virology,” Dr Chan said. “It is most fitting that his legacy would include the training of virologists for the future.”

University of Melbourne Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, congratulated Dr Koutsakos on the appointment.

“Dr Koutsakos is a truly worthy recipient of the Fellowship, having already carved out a remarkable career,” Professor Lewin said.

“This Fellowship will enable him to build on his significant portfolio of research by developing and leading his own research program at the Doherty Institute.

“It is important to be able to support the next generation of virology researchers such as Marios and we are incredibly thankful for the Morningside Foundation’s significant support that has enabled us to create this opportunity for him.”

Professor Locarnini, whom the Fellowship is named after, retired as Head of Research and Molecular Development at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory at the Doherty Institute in 2019.

His decades of research and public health contributions in understanding viral infectious diseases and hepatitis have advanced the field of molecular virology and drug resistance, leading to improved diagnosis, treatment and control of viral hepatitis.