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16 Jun 2020

Doherty Institute receives US$2 million donation from TikTok to fund COVID-19 research

Media release

TikTok, the fast-growing mobile video app, has generously donated US$2million (almost AU$3 million) to the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) to contribute to the Institute’s work on COVID-19.

The significant gift is part of the social media platform’s global efforts to contribute to the pandemic, which will see them donate US$250million worldwide to frontline and community relief efforts worldwide.

To celebrate the role of science in responding to COVID-19, leading researchers from the Doherty Institute are taking science out of the lab and into homes across the globe with a new campaign showcasing #scienceathome.

In his video, University of Melbourne Dr Ashraful Haque, a Laboratory Head at the Doherty Institute, provides a lesson in immunology by playing the role of a T cell complete with boxing gloves, while PhD Student, Jennifer Habel from University of Melbourne Professor Katherine Kedzierska’s laboratory, reveals how to extract DNA from a banana.

Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, said: “We’re so grateful to TikTok for throwing their weight behind science with this generous donation and campaign support.

“Our work on COVID-19 ranges from diagnostics, to clinical trials to test potential treatments, the creation of a vaccine and mathematical modelling to guide the public health response. This generous donation will significantly enhance our efforts to perform innovative clinical trials for COVID-19 and similar viruses.

“What’s more, we’ve been extremely impressed by the ingenuity of TikTok users to create content that promotes hand washing, social distancing and the role of healthcare workers during the pandemic, and we’re excited to see the community’s creativity in celebrating science through #scienceathome.”

The Doherty Institute, a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital, has been at the forefront of the global response to COVID-19. Only a few days after diagnosing Victoria’s first positive COVID-19 case in January, scientists grew the virus from a patient sample, the first time it had been grown in cell culture outside of China and shared globally.

Lee Hunter, General Manager for Tik Tok Australia, said: “At TikTok, we are committed to playing our part in supporting the communities impacted by COVID-19 both globally and locally. We are pleased to provide our support to the Doherty Institute on their vital research and development and look forward to seeing the results of the important work their scientists are driving.”

Find the Doherty Institute on TikTok - @dohertyinstitute.

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