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12 Jan 2021

My journey of discoveries

Written by University of Melbourne Dr Amy Chung, Laboratory Head at the Doherty Institute.

I recall being a young student, alone in the lab and pausing in wonder as the results of a painfully long and intricate experiment solidified.

Then, coming to the sudden realisation that I, a mere PhD student, had helped to discover something.

In that one moment, I held a tiny piece of knowledge about how the human immune system worked that no one else in the world knew.

It’s a heady, adrenaline-filled sensation to be the sole knowledge holder of an intricate piece of the puzzle.

In my case, that was to better understand how immune proteins called antibodies are able to activate innate immune cells to help control HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

These rare but precious moments overshadow everything else. Suddenly, the hours of reading, planning, training, fumbling around like a lost chick (don’t get me started on the number of experimental errors made and wrong experimental pathways followed!) and intense labour were worth it.

Now, fast forward ten years, it’s rare to find me personally running complicated experiments in the lab.

Instead, I’m in the very privileged position to be leading an amazing, enthusiastic and talented team of young researchers.

Our group is fascinated by how antibodies might be harnessed to eliminate infectious diseases.

It’s my goal to have each member of my group personally experience these precious Eureka! moments, so that collectively we can all share in a journey of discoveries that ultimately may contribute to the development of better vaccines and treatments against infectious diseases.

This article was first published in the Celebrating Five Years of the Doherty Institute Impact Report.

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