The overall goal of my present research work at the Kirby Institute is two-fold. Firstly to define the basic mechanisms of HIV spread, from tracking entry and fusion of single HIV virions through to the more logistically challenging task of tracking viral spread through cell-cell contact. To date our laboratory is one of only a few laboratories worldwide that can image HIV spread in live HIV infected primary cell types (see image right to observe HIV (white) being lauched by cellular filopodia (red)). The second component of my laboratory is currently involved and actively collaborating with research groups involved in using gene therapy for a potential HIV treatment. A functional cure for HIV may lie in gene therapy. For instance, functional removal of human genes that HIV needs or attacking the viral genes directly, all represent ways to silence the viral reservoir in the long term. Whilst there are many approaches that work in cell line models, the present limitation to this approach is gene delivery. For instance the cells of the immune system that HIV attacks are unfortunately very difficult to deliver genes to. The broad aim of this project is to systematically determine the best protocol for gene delivery by using different combinations of viral proteins.
We are actively looking for capable honours, masters and PhD students who have a strong interest in the intersection of virology and cellular biology to undertake NHMRC funded projects.
The Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society was formerly known as the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research
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