18 May 2021
Dr Sushama Telwatte awarded Locarnini Fellowship in Virology
Dr Sushama Telwatte has been awarded the inaugural Locarnini Fellowship in Virology at the Doherty Institute.
The prestigious Fellowship provides support to a talented post-doctoral fellow or young investigator who is specialising in the field of virology and was made possible by a generous donation from Dr Raymond F Schinazi and the John C Martin Foundation.
University of Melbourne Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, said Dr Telwatte is a truly worthy recipient of the Fellowship.
“Dr Telwatte has been tremendously successful and productive in her career to date,” Professor Lewin said.
“She will be a great asset to the Doherty Institute and Melbourne’s scientific community.”
An Adjunct Instructor in the laboratory of Associate Professor Steven A. Yukl at the University of California San Francisco, Dr Telwatte completed her PhD at the Burnet Institute, Monash University in 2015.
Her work focuses on uncovering the mechanisms underlying HIV persistence and latency in the gut and blood.
Dr Telwatte said she was honoured to be named as the inaugural Fellow.
“I am incredibly excited to undertake the Fellowship and am looking forward to joining the Doherty Institute,” Dr Telwatte said.
“I will use the Fellowship to further my research understanding the key factors that help maintain HIV in a ‘latent’ state in infected cells.
“I hope that in doing so, I will be able to provide further insight into the development of an HIV cure strategy.”
The Fellowship was named in honour of Professor Locarnini, who was the Head of Research and Molecular Development at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory at the Doherty Institute.
Professor Locarnini’s decades of research and public health contributions in understanding viral infectious diseases and hepatitis have advanced molecular virology and viral evolution, leading to diagnosis, treatment and control of these deadly infections.
Professor Lewin thanked Dr Raymond F Schinazi and the John C Martin Foundation for their incredible philanthropic support that enabled the Fellowship to be funded.
“Dr Martin tragically died in April 2021 and we extend our sincere condolences to Dr Martin’s partner Lillian Lou and his family,” said Professor Lewin.
“Dr John Martin was an exceptional clinical scientist, businessman and humanitarian, and his leadership had a profound impact on the treatment of human viral diseases worldwide, particularly in some of the most impoverished regions of the globe.”
“Through his philanthropy and dedication to global health, Dr Martin helped save many lives and his legacy will continue to benefit generations to come.”
Dr Telwatte will commence in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Doherty Institute in mid-2022.