A/Prof Damian F J Purcell

BSc Hons (University of Melbourne) Immunology, PhD (University of Melbourne) Pathology, and Postdoctoral training (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, Bethesda USA) Virology Associate Professor and Reader in Virology Department of Microbiology and Immunology Peter Doherty Institute University of Melbourne Parkville 3010 AUSTRALIA

Email: dfjp@unimelb.edu.au
Phone: +613 8344 6753
Web: www.microbiol.unimelb.edu.au/new_research/virology/purcell_new.html

Associate Professor Purcell heads the Molecular Virology Laboratory that conducts research primarily into the gene expression and RNA processing of retroviral mRNA during the productive and latent infection stages of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1). We are interested in the links between epigenetic control of viral RNA transcription and RNA-processing steps include splicing, polyadenylation, transport, cellular localisation, degradation and translation of mRNA into protein. We study both the retroviral-encoded and the host cell-derived control mechanisms that determine the efficiency of viral protein expression and virion production. Each RNA expression and processing step provides a potential means to modulate viral replication, infectivity and pathogenesis. We target these steps for antiviral drug development, especially seeking therapies that impact upon retroviral latency. We are also investigating the convergence of RNA-dependent innate antiviral pathways, such as RNA interference (RNAi) with adaptive immunity in the restriction of viral replication and clearance of infected cells.

We are applying our understanding of the fine details of HIV-1 and HTLV-1 RNA and protein production for the preparation of authentically structured Env trimer protein immunogens, and safe nucleic acid and viral vectored vaccines that elicit effective antibody and cellular immunity.

We also use Env vaccines to produce neutralising antibody-based microbicides that will team with vaccines to provide a cost effective way of containing viral transmission.

Major Research Projects:
RNA mediated control of HIV-1 gene expression Design, development and testing of HIV vaccines Passive antibody immunity for use in combination microbicides

A/Prof Jason M Mackenzie

BSc (Dunedin, NZ) Microbiology, PhD (UQ) Virology, Associate Professor of Virology

Email: jason.mackenzie@unimelb.edu.au
Phone: +613 9035 8376
Web: www.microbiol.unimelb.edu.au/new_research/virology/mackenzie_new.html

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, AUSTRALIAOur overall objectives are to investigate and unravel the replication mechanism of two positive-stranded RNA viruses (West Nile virus [a flavivirus] and Mouse Norovirus [a Norovirus]) that are highly pathogenic to humans and cause outbreaks of encephalitis and gastroenteritis. Our aims are to determine how and where these viruses replicate within infected cells and what host components/organelles are “used and abused” by the virus. We aim to correlate this abuse of host with the pathogenic outcomes associated with viral infection. In conjunction with these studies we are investigating how viruses can evade our immune system and in particular how viruses can bypass the antiviral activities of our first line of defence; the innate immune system.