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16 Feb 2021

Millers Scholarship in infection and immunity

Through a generous donation to the Doherty Institute, the prestigious Millers Scholarship in Infection and Immunity was established to support postgraduate research students with demonstrated excellence in the areas of immunology or infectious disease research.

To date, seven students have been awarded the Scholarship. Here, four Scholars describe their projects.

Jessie Chang
I have been able to commence research in understanding a specific bacteria called Klebsiella and how it causes lung infections. I have established a laboratory model to perform the infections and then assess how the bacteria alters the genes in that cell, using an approach called dual RNA-sequencing. Following this, I will be able to work out how the bacteria hijacks the host cells during infections in order to develop new approaches to treating severe lung infections.

Joshua Deerain
I have been able to undertake my PhD with University of Melbourne Professor Jason Mackenzie. My research has focused on developing new laboratory models to grow and study human noroviruses, a major cause of diarrhoea. Through this work, I plan to understand how the virus causes cells to die during infection. I have had the opportunity to collaborate extensively within the Doherty Institute, with external colleagues and have presented my work at three international and three national conferences.

Amaya Ortega
In my PhD, I have been studying pregnant women living in endemic areas with high transmission of malaria. Malaria can cause severe infection in the setting of pregnancy and my goal is to understand the role of different parts of the immune system in fighting malaria. I have been specifically interested in the role of a particular immune cell called a monocyte. I am trying to understand how antibodies interact with monocytes in the elimination of the malaria parasite. Hopefully, this will contribute to the design of a vaccine for pregnancy-associated malaria.

Jared Stern
My PhD studies focus on how HIV is controlled inside a cell. When a person living with HIV is taking suppressive antiviral therapy, HIV still persists long-term inside a cell and therefore current treatments are life long. We previously found that HIV inside a cell increases and decreases with a 24-hour cycle, similar to many other biological processes that have a circadian rhythm. We are currently working to understand the mechanisms for this variation in HIV expression, with the overall aim to exploit these pathways to develop new approaches to eliminate long-lived forms of HIV that persist on antiviral therapy.

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