Research in the laboratory works to improve the response to infectious disease causing pathogens by developing new approaches and therapies. Infectious disease remains a leading cause of death throughout the world as exemplified by the SARS CoVID 2019 pandemic. Furthermore, influenza is a top 10-15 cause of death in Australia annually and is associated with as many or more deaths than all human cancers, with the exception of lung cancer.
Research activities include the identification and subtyping of viral pathogens such as influenza and hepatitis C virus (HCV) using new novel molecular approaches, understanding their biological properties, mode of action and evolution at the molecular level, and the development of antivirals to respond to their infection. The technological approaches we develop allow us to characterise viruses (including oncoviruses) into different subtypes, develop specific treatments, and also help advance ‘omics’ and informatics approaches for their use in clinical practice.
The laboratory is led by Professor Kevin Downard who has over 30 years research experience in science and medicine. A University of Adelaide graduate, he has held merit-based professorial positions abroad and in Australia after completing postdoctoral studies and holding a subsequent academic position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has published over 110 lead author, peer-reviewed scientific publications, as well as two books. He has twice received international fellowships from both the Australian Academy of Science and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and is frequently invited to give keynote lectures at national and international conferences. He was the first Australian to be recognised for his research achievements with receipt of a faculty award from the world's largest mass spectrometry society (ASMS), of which he is a 25+ year member. He convened both the largest Australian biennial MS conference in 2009 and the 2003 Sir Mark Oliphant Conference in Sydney. He has also been recognised by the Australian Academy of Science for his efforts to research and document the history of science as recipient of the Moran Award in 2006. In 2016, he received the annual award at the British Biological Mass Spectrometry Symposium in London.
Group members have a range of laboratory based, clinical and computational science and programming experience. Projects are tailored to the interests and expertise of group members in line with research interests of the lab. Lab members have received numerous awards and fellowships and alumni have gone on to attain prestigious positions in academia and industry.
Infectious Disease Responses Laboratory