29 Oct 2021
Episode 24: Growing and sharing the virus that changed the world
COVID-19 research has come a long way since the beginning of 2020, but what initial steps where taken to prepare for the emergence of this new virus? In late January 2020, the team in the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) announced they had grown the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the first Australian COVID-19 patient sample in cell culture. They were the first laboratory to do so outside of China and the first to share it with the world. In this episode, you'll discover how the team grew the virus, what led them to this moment and why it was an important catalyst for further research, preparedness and diagnostics, including that three letter initialism we've become so familiar with, PCR.
To talk us through it, our guest for this episode is Dr Mike Catton. Mike is the Deputy Director of the Doherty Institute and Director of the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s VIDRL, where he has been at the helm for more than 20 years. Aside from leading Victoria’s COVID-19 diagnostics capabilities over the last 20 months or so, Mike has many achievements under his belt. These include leading a collaborative effort to establish lab capacity for Australian back in 2003 for the original SARS; discovering a new arenavirus as the cause of a cluster of deaths among Victorian transplant patients in 2007, and being instrumental in the establishment of the Doherty Institute in 2014.
- You can also read this story, Growing and sharing the virus that changed the world, in our 2020 Impact Report.
- ABC exclusive story we referenced in the episode.
- Watch the press conference Mike appeared in.
- Learn more about the arenavirus outbreak Mike's team discovered in this episode of ABC Radio National's Patient Zero.