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Professor Sharon Lewin

Professor Sharon Lewin

Professor Sharon Lewin

(03) 8344 2252 |

Director - The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
Immunology, Viral Infectious Diseases, Bacterial and Parasitic Infections, Hepatitis , HIV
Discovery Research, Education & Professional Development, Global Health, Clinical and health systems research
Department of Infectious Diseases
Lab Group(s):
Lewin Group

Professor Sharon Lewin is an infectious diseases physician and basic scientist, who is internationally renowned for her research into all aspects of HIV disease and specifically in strategies to achieve an HIV cure. Professor Lewin is the inaugural Director of the Doherty Institute and the Cumming Global Centre for Pandemic Therapeutics, a new centre at the Doherty Institute established by a philanthropic gift of $250 million from Canadian philanthropist Geoff Cumming and $75 million from the Victorian government. She is also a Melbourne Laureate Professor of Medicine at The University of Melbourne and is the current President of the International AIDS Society (IAS) (2022 – 2024), the largest professional society representing people working in HIV medicine and has over 17,000 members. She is an Advisory Board member for the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations (NFACR) and a Board Director for Doherty Clinical Trials Ltd.

She heads a laboratory of 25 scientists and clinicians working on basic and translational research and early phase clinical trials aimed at finding a cure for HIV. Her laboratory is funded by the NHMRC, the National Institutes of Health, The Wellcome Trust, the American Foundation for AIDS Research and multiple commercial partnerships. She is also the Chief Investigator of a NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence (CRE), The Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Diseases Emergencies (APPRISE) that aims to bring together Australia’s leading experts in clinical, laboratory and public health research to address the key components required for a rapid and effective emergency response to infectious diseases.

  • Key Achievements
    • She has authored over 360 publications and given over 100 major international invited talks on HIV cure. Her work on in vitro models of latency, latency reversing agents and clinical trials of cure interventions has attracted widespread interest in the general and scientific media, including Science, Nature, Nature Medicine, The Economist and The New Yorker. She co-chairs the International AIDS Society’s Towards an HIV Cure initiative, and in 2014, was the local co-chair for the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, the largest health conference ever held in Australia. She is co-chair of the of the National COVID Health and Research Advisory Committee; President-elect of the International AIDS Society which represents all people working in the field of HIV with 14,000 members. She is President of the Scientific Advisory Board to the ANRS/Maladie Infectious Emergentes, the lead funding agency for research in infectious diseases in France and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Vaccine Research Centre at the National Institutes of Health. She was named Melburnian of the Year in 2014, and in 2015, was awarded the Peter Wills Medal by Research Australia. In 2019 Sharon was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in recognition of her distinguished service to medical research, and to education and clinical care, in the field of infectious diseases, particularly HIV and AIDS. In 2020, she was awarded the prestigious 2020 Melbourne Achiever Award by the Committee for Melbourne. In 2022 she was awarded the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS) Outstanding Female Researcher Medal in 2022.

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    • 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 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).

    • 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-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.

    • 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.

    Research Groups
    • Lewin Group

      The focus of the Lewin group is to understand why HIV infection persists on antiretroviral therapy and to develop new strategies to eliminate latency. The lab also researches factors that drive liver disease in HIV-hepatitis B virus co-infection. The lab is also actively involved in COVID in relation to pathogenesis, the use of primary tissue models, and developing therapeutics using gene editing strategies.

      Lab Team

      Lewin Group

      • Director - The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
      • Deputy Head Lewin Lab | Senior Research Fellow
      • Senior Research Fellow
      • Dr Wei Zhao
        Research Fellow
      • Dr Chris Chiu
        Research Fellow
      • Dr Youry Kim
        Research Fellow
      • Dr Stan Kan
        Research Fellow
      • Dr Jill Lau
        Clinical Research Fellow
      • Clinical Research Liason Officer
      • Dr Judy Chang
        Research Systems Administrator
      • Dr Catherine Kennedy
        Research Coordinator
      • Research Coordinator
      • Laboratory Manager
      • Infectious Diseases Physician
      • Research Fellow
      • Carolin Tumpach
        Research Support Officer
      • Rosalyn Cao
        Research Support Officer
      • Danielle Fong
        Research Support Officer
      • Abigail Tan
        Research Support Officer
      • Jared Stern
        PhD Candidate
      • Rachel Pascoe
        PhD Candidate
      • Paula Cevaal
        PhD Candidate
      • Haoming Liu
        PhD Candidate
      • Kiho Tanaka
        PhD Candidate
      • Rory Shepherd
        PhD Candidate
      • Lauren Wallace
        Honours Student
      • Bridget Fisher
        Honours Student
      • Associate Professor Edwina Wright
        Clinical Affiliate
      • Dr James McMahon
        Clinical Affiliate
      • Head, Clinical Virology and HIV Services, Deputy Director Department of Infectious Diseases Austin Health
      • Associate Professor Thomas Rasmussen
        Clinical Affiliate

Full University of Melbourne profile