The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital

  • Research Groups

    Current Projects

    • HIV Latency Reversing Agents

      The biggest hurdle in curing HIV infection in an individual is that the virus remains dormant in some populations of cells, hiding from the immune system and the cocktail of antiviral drugs. This is described as HIV latency and poses a major barrier to curing HIV. The Lewin-Cameron Lab’s research focuses on agents that ‘wake up’ dormant HIV hiding in the body and reverse HIV latency. One group of drugs they strongly focus on is histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi).

    • Dendritic cells and immunomodulation in HIV

      Dendritic cell-T cell interactions in different tissues are critical in generating T cell immunity and this interaction is important in controlling productive HIV infection and latency in the T cells.  The Lewin-Cameron Lab are exploring how different types of dendritic cells can control the establishment, reversal and maintenance of HIV latency.  One major interest of this group is the role of immune check points and their blockade in DC-induced HIV latency.

    • HIV Reservoir Virology

      The HIV Reservoir Virology group’s major focus is on unravelling the viral determinants of HIV latency. They use innovative virological techniques to understand how the virus can persist on ART using CD4+ T-cells from HIV-infected individuals on ART. The reservoir virology group also has a major interest in developing assays to better quantify HIV persistence on antiretroviral therapy.

    • HIV and co-infections

      Co-infections with viral or bacterial pathogens cause significant morbidity in patients with HIV. In the case of HIV/HBV co-infection, morbidity and mortality secondary to liver disease is greatly increased compared to those infected with HBV or HIV alone. Mortality remains elevated even after treating both the HIV and HBV virus. The HBV Immunology Lab investigates the mechanism of how HIV can accelerate liver disease in patients co-infected with HBV. They hypothesise that this occurs by combined effects of HIV and HBV on inflammation in the liver. These studies could potentially lead to new treatments for liver disease. In addition they have a long-standing interest in developing novel assays to characterise the immune response to other important HIV co-infections, including cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Cryptococcus.

    • HIV-related immune reconstitution and immune activation

      Following antiretroviral therapy, CD4+ T-cells recover but often don’t recover to normal levels and immune activation can persist. Although patients are no longer at risk of AIDS associated illnesses, they are at increased risk of other diseases including cardiovascular disease, neurological disease and malignancy. The Lewin-Cameron lab is interested in determining novel host factors that influence immune reconstitution including genetic factors.


    Lab Team

    Lewin Group

    • Dr Jasminka Sterjovski
      Research Manager
    • Dr Jennifer Audsley
      Post-doctoral Research Fellow
    • Dr Jenny Anderson
      Post-doctoral Research Fellow
    • Dr Vanessa Evans
      Post-doctoral Research Fellow
    • Dr Jori Symons
      Post-doctoral Research Fellow
    • Dr Jennifer Zerbato
      Post-doctoral Research Fellow
    • Ajantha Rhodes
      Lab Manager
    • Surekha Tennakoon
      Research Officer
    • Ashanti Dantanarayana
      Research Assistant
    • Dr Kasha Singh
      PhD student
    • Dr Matthew Pitman
      PhD student
    • Youry Kim
      PhD student
    • Zuwena Richardson
      PhD student
    • Haoming Liu
      PhD Student
    • Rachel Pascoe
      PhD Student
    • Jared Stern
      PhD Student
    • Wei Zhao
      Research Fellow
    • Socheata Chea
      Clinical Research Support and Systems Administrator
    • Carolin Tumpach
      Research Support Officer

    • Chibo Group

      The HIV Characterisation laboratory performs testing to monitor HIV-infected individuals prior to and upon commencement of antiretroviral treatment. Additionally, genotype-assisted antiretroviral resistance testing is available, which identifies the presence of drug resistance mutations so that targeted treatment choices can be made. 


    • Kent Group

      Stephen’s group studies immunity to HIV and influenza. They are analysing a variety of vaccine strategies, including nanoparticle-based vaccines. They are studying a series of immune responses to gain better insights into protective immunity to important viral pathogens.

      Other work areas include:COVID-19, Immunology, Influenza


    • Nicholson Group

      Suellen's group fulfills a dual mission of providing a technically first class, reliable diagnostic, reference and public health service to the healthcare system, and being an innovative, adaptable, forward-looking component of the scientific community and a valued collaborator in research projects, not just in Victoria, but nationally and in the region.

      Other work areas include:Hepatitis


    • Purcell Lab

      Professor Damian Purcell’s research group investigates the HIV-1 and HTLV-1 human retroviruses that cause AIDS and leukaemia/inflammatory pathogenesis respectively. The lab studies their genetic structure and gene expression with a focus on defining the mechanisms that control viral persistence and pathogenesis. The molecular interplay of viral and host factors during viral infection and the innate and adaptive immune responses to viral infection are examined. These molecular insights are used to develop new antiviral and curative therapeutics, preventive prophylactic vaccines and passive antibody microbicides and therapeutics. Some of these patented discoveries have been commercialised and we are assisting with clinical trials.

      Other work areas include:COVID-19, Immunology, Viral Infectious Diseases, Host Pathogens Interactions


    Clinical Research

    Clinical research in HIV at the Doherty Institute is focused on understanding the barriers to curing HIV infection and developing therapeutic strategies to overcome these. In addition, the Doherty Institute has an active translational research program aimed at understanding how the immune system recovers following treatment of HIV infection and the impact of co-infections that occur commonly in low income countries, including hepatitis B virus (HBV).

    Researchers are conducting a range of observational studies understanding where the virus hides on antiviral therapy (ART), and using blood and tissue samples collected from HIV-infected participants they are identifying new drugs that activate or eliminate the virus. Other observational studies are investigating the interaction of HIV and HBV, cytomegalovirus and Cryptococcus, the frequency of HBV drug resistance in HIV-HBV co-infection, and the impact of immune activation on immune function and liver disease following ART. In addition, researchers are leading a range of multi-site local, national and international interventional studies to investigate new interventions that may eliminate persistent virus.

    Some of the Doherty Institute’s key collaborators in clinical research activities include the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Alfred Hospital; University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, USA; the Thai Red Cross, Bangkok, Thailand; and the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    If you are interested in volunteering in the Doherty Institute's clinical trials, please see the projects that are now recruiting volunteers

    Now recruiting volunteers

    • HIV

      Do you have HIV and about to undergo immunotherapy for cancer?

      Volunteers needed for a study where extra blood tests will be taken during immunotherapy treatment for cancer.

      Learn more

    • HIV

      Would you like to help researchers eradicate HIV?

      Volunteers needed for a study where large volume of white blood cells are collected to understand where HIV hides on treatment and how to get rid of HIV from its hiding place.

      Learn more

    Current projects

    • Hepatitis HIV

      A surveillance program for the detection of hepatitis B virus (HBV) resistance to tenofovir (TDF) in HIV-HBV co-infected patient

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    • HIV

      Circadian HIV RNA Oscillations and Outcomes of Stress (CHRONOS)

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    • HIV

      Dolutegravir intensification study (DIORR)

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    • HIV

      Would you like to take part in a study to see where HIV hides in the body?

      Learn more

    • HIV

      Imaging the reservoir (iPHOTO3)

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    • HIV

      Investigating the effects of interferon on HIV persistence in HIV infected patients on ART

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    • Hepatitis HIV

      Long-term persistence of HIV in the liver and the clinical impact on HIV-HBV co-infection (CHHANEL)

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    • HIV

      The START HIV-1 Reservoir Sub-study

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    • Hepatitis HIV

      Towards a Functional cure for HBV: exploiting lessons from HBV-HIV co-infection

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    • HIV

      Interested in HIV cure research?

      Volunteers needed for a clinical trial to test whether high dose vitamin D can reduce HIV that persists despite antiretroviral therapy.

      Learn more