Damian Purcell – Co-convenor
Damian Purcell is Professor of Virology at the University of Melbourne and Theme Leader for viral infectious diseases at the Peter Doherty Institute. After receiving a PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1986 he was a CJ Martin traveling fellow of the NHMRC working with Dr. Malcolm Martin, Chief of the Laboratory for Molecular Microbiology at the NIAID, NIH in Bethesda, MD, USA. He returned to Melbourne’s Burnet Institute in 1995 before moving to the University of Melbourne in a tenured virology teaching and research position in 2001.
His research has predominantly focused on the human retroviruses HIV and HTLV-1. His research on molecular events of HIV and HTLV-1 replication during productive and the latency phase of infection and RNA-mediated control immune responses to viral infection and the that allow HIV and HTLV viruses to persist has led to novel therapeutic approaches and new vaccine candidates, including some of the world’s earliest RNA vaccines. He has developed and patented several vaccine and immunotherapeutic candidates and led pre-clinical studies for human trials. In response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, he has also led pre-clinical research into the virology of SARS-CoV-2 and development and testing of vaccines.
He was President of the Australasian Virology Society from 2011 – 2015, Executive Committee Member of the Australian Centres for HIV and Hepatitis Virology since 2000, and is the regional Governing Councillor of the International Retrovirology Association since 2017. Co-director of the Global Virus Network’s Australian node, and founding board member of the Australian RNA production consortium.