From the director

From the director

Illuminate newsletter index page, March 2020
March 2020

Institute director Professor Doug Hilton AO.
Institute director Professor Doug Hilton AO.

Welcome to the first Illuminate newsletter of the 2020s. This month you can read about a wide range of research achievements across our Institute, and meet some of the fantastic people who make this possible.

As I write this, the world’s health agencies are working to understand, treat and contain the new coronavirus disease COVID-19.

This health challenge has been an important reminder of why health and medical research continues to be essential for our communities, particularly research in the areas of infectious diseases, drug and vaccine development, public health and epidemiology.

Our Institute has considered the best approaches we can take to combatting COVID-19, and our researchers are rapidly mobilising to address this disease threat.

We are taking several approaches towards developing much-needed anti-coronavirus medications, utilising the National Drug Discovery Centre and our expertise in infectious diseases research, as well as leveraging our experience in the field of ‘biologics’ medicines.

We are also accelerating work towards a new, rapid point-of-care test for infectious agents including coronavirus, which could give clinicians the best chance of treating infected people and stopping disease spread.

While there is still considerable work to be done at the local and global level to address COVID-19, please be assured that our researchers are committed to contributing to the national and global efforts to combat this disease. We also recognise that there may be other, separate disease outbreaks into the future caused by coronaviruses, and are ensuring our current research will also have the longevity to be applied to potential future scenarios.

Responding to Australian bushfires

Istitute staff donated books
Staff donated books for school students in fire-affected
Aboriginal communities.

Late 2019 and early 2020 was also a difficult time for many in Australia who were impacted by catastrophic bushfires.

I would like to extend my condolences and sympathy to all of our Institute’s extended community who have suffered through, and were impacted by, these frightening and challenging events.

The difficulties experienced by those in our community as a result of the bushfires are in the minds of many at the Institute.

Our staff and students recently came together to contribute to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund and Zoos Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund, to donate books and funds to Deadly Science’s book drive for school students in fire-affected Aboriginal communities.

It makes me very proud to see our staff and students working together to give back to our community.

As an Institute we recognise that human activity is driving the climate change that is making bushfires and other natural disasters more common.

We are in the process of considering the most effective ways our Institute can reduce its carbon footprint to lessen our contribution to climate change.

Celebrating and supporting diversity

We have also had cause to celebrate. In early February I was thrilled to join many Institute staff and students and their families to march behind an Institute banner at the Midsumma Pride March.

This is the third year the Institute has officially been a part of Midsumma and it is wonderful to see the visible and practical support offered by other research and academic organisations to our LGBTQIA+ community.

We are committed to supporting all people in medical research to ensure everyone can contribute to our sector to their full potential in a safe and inclusive setting.

Super Content: 
Researcher facing news media crews

Catch up on our latest research discoveries and announcements.

Two men holding award trophies

Professor Jacques Miller and Professor Max Cooper were join receipients of a 2019 Lasker Award - America's highest honour in medical research - for their discoveries in immunology