Direct from Doug

Direct from Doug

Illuminate newsletter index page, summer-2020-21
December 2020


Professor Doug Hilton AO.

Towards the end of most years, I take the opportunity to reflect on past achievements and plans for the new year.

2020 will of course be remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the changes it brought around the world.

WEHI has also experienced many changes this year. In the past few months, we have begun to increase our on-site capacity in line with safety guidelines. As Melbourne recovers from the second wave, it is wonderful to see WEHI begin to buzz with activity again, albeit slowly and safely, as we move to ‘COVID normal’.

A new look

Though we have experienced previously unimaginable tribulations this year, there has been a bright spot for me with the launch of the new WEHI brand. I’ve been excited to be part of this initiative and thrilled by the positive feedback about our new identity from many in the WEHI community.

Our new brand puts a spotlight on the ingredients that make us special, both as a great place to work and as a research institute that can shape scientific thought and impact the community. It highlights the collaborative spirit of WEHI – something that is in our DNA. This happens within and between our teams, extends to our colleagues at other research organisations, universities and hospitals, and is how we work with our donors, consumers, industry partners and government.

The brand also puts a spotlight on our commitment to long-term discovery, and the passion and creativity our staff and students bring to make WEHI a place where the brightest minds collaborate and innovate to help people live healthier for longer. With our new brand, we can tell our story in a way that wins the hearts and minds of people in our community and sparks their imaginations and excites them to work with us.

Research achievements

This year I have been in awe of WEHI’s staff and students. On one hand, we have seen many researchers rapidly responding to the pandemic by applying their varied areas of expertise: drug discovery, virology, epidemiology, public health and immunology. We have already seen several exciting advances, with research to develop new anti-viral treatments and clinical studies to improve our understanding of COVID-19.

Equally inspiring were those researchers who have pushed on with their long-term scientific interests, despite the challenging and changing environment. One exciting advance – the result of long-term research of the molecular control of inflammation – has led to potential new ways to treat motor neurone disease. It continues to show the critical importance of supporting fundamental scientific research to make truly innovative discoveries.

I would also like to thank the professional services staff, most of whom have been working from home for the better part of the year.

I’d like to send my best wishes to all our readers for the upcoming festive season. I hope you can find time to relax and reconnect with loved ones – whether in person or online. Please stay safe, and I send my best wishes for happiness and good health in 2021.

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