About the Kirby Institute

The Kirby Institute is a leading global research institute dedicated to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

We were established in 1986 in response to the then emerging HIV epidemic. We now contribute to knowledge on a broad range of diseases, including viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections. 

Our primary work relates to the coordination of national surveillance programs, population health and epidemiological research, clinical and behavioural research and clinical trials. Our research projects are conducted in partnership with communities most affected by epidemics. Together we implement trials of behavioural and biomedical interventions designed to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in vulnerable populations.

Our work in the laboratory is focused on finding ways to control infections, develop new therapies and ultimately towards the development of preventative vaccines. Outside of the laboratory, we provide critical leadership to decision makers in Australia and internationally on the most effective, efficient and sustainable strategies to address deadly epidemics.

Our research has increasingly taken on a regional focus. Over the past two decades, we have developed collaborative programs in several countries that have involved training health workers and health researchers in the Asia Pacific region, advising governments on public health and clinical policy, informing international treatment guidelines and working to increase access to essential medicines. We have particularly strong partnerships in Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Myanmar, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

Our world-class team comprises over 300 public health, clinical and laboratory scientists, research assistants, postgraduate students and professional staff.

Our Director

Tony Kelleher
Professor Anthony (Tony) Kelleher is a clinician scientist who has been working in the field of HIV research and immunology for over 30 years. He is internationally renowned, having been involved with every HIV vaccine trail conducted in Australia as well as a number of phase I-IV clinical trials, especially those involving patients with primary infection. He has been with the Kirby Institute since 2001, serving as head of the Immunovirology and Pathogenesis Program since 2005. Professor Kelleher was appointed Director of the Kirby Institute in January 2019.

Our Patron

Michael Kirby
The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG has been the Kirby Institute’s Patron since 2011. When he retired from the High Court of Australia on 2 February 2009, Michael Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge. Alongside his judicial achievements, Michael Kirby has served on many national and international bodies, including as a member of the World Health Organization’s Global Commission on AIDS (1988-1992); President of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva (1995-1998); as UN Special Representative Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-1996); a member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1995-2005); a member of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Judicial Reference Group (2007-), a member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights (2004-) and a member of UNSG's High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines (2015-16). He is currently chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association in London (2018-).

Our Founding Director (1986–2018)

David Cooper
Scientia Professor David Cooper AC FAA FAHMS was the inaugural director of the Kirby Institute. He passed away on 18 March 2018 after a short illness. Professor Cooper’s leadership in HIV research and treatment spanned more than three decades. His contributions were broad-ranging, covering basic, clinical and epidemiological research as well as membership on advisory groups to establish HIV treatment guidelines. He was a global advocate for regional engagement and capacity building for many years, particularly through clinical research.