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02 Aug 2021

Laureate Professor Peter Doherty releases new book

Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty, Patron and namesake of the Doherty Institute has released a new book detailing the scientific response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an Insider’s Plague Year, Doherty Institute Patron Professor Doherty recounts his response to the pandemic as it developed from January 2020 through to February 2021.

As citizens and governments around the world suddenly became acutely dependent on the capacity of scientists to understand and recommend appropriate public health policy responses to the disease.

Professor Doherty who had been considering retirement, suddenly found himself back in the spotlight with an important role to play.

“Contemplating my 80th birthday in 2021, I thought I was finally stepping back from the world of infection and immunity,” Professor Doherty said.

“Then COVID-19 hit, and I suddenly found I was back in business.”

Professor Doherty saw there was a need for a reasoned and trusted voice to communicate the science.

“I realised that my younger colleagues who were leading the research, diagnostic and clinical teams were becoming exhausted as they worked all day and were online with colleagues in the northern hemisphere at night,” Professor Doherty explained.

“As a consequence, I took on some of the public communication and explanation role, with that being a primary feature of this book.”

In the book published by Melbourne University Press, Professor Doherty systematically provides a deep understanding of the virus and of the numerous areas of knowledge that been brought together in the fight against it.

Rendering complex medical and scientific issues accessible, he provides a fascinating glimpse into how health experts have worked with governments to control and manage the pandemic.

“My role has been to try so explain the underlying science, and to give some historical context to make such stories more human and interesting,” Professor Doherty explained.

That content is a central, though not the only, theme of this book.

“Want to know what relevance rock-climbing and velcroing have to immunology?” Professor Doherty asked.

“Read this book!”

Professor Doherty also turns his mind to what we can hope for in the months and years ahead and reflects on the incredible work being done around the globe, particularly in his own backyard.

“COVID-19 has been tough for all of us. But, as an Insider in the world of infection and immunity, I’ve been immensely impressed and gratified by the professionalism and competence of my colleagues at the Doherty Institute.”



Published by Melbourne University Press, An Insider’s Plague Year goes on sale tomorrow, Tuesday, 3 August.