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Published: 15 May 2014


Johnson Mak A and Stephen Kent B

A Deakin University, and
CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory
Email: johnson.mak@deakin.edu.au

B Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Peter Doherty Institute
The University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Vic. 3010, Australia
Email: skent@unimelb.edu.au

It has been nearly three decades since the discovery of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). The collective global research efforts on HIV-1 in the past 30 years have drastically changed HIV-1 infection from a previous ‘death sentence’ to a manageable clinical condition – providing adequate access of anti-retroviral therapy is available. Throughout this period, along with their colleagues around the globe, Australian researchers have made significant contributions to HIV-1 research in a number of areas, including but not limited to clinical research, basic science, plus more recently in HIV-1 cure research.

In July 2014, the HIV-1 research community around the globe will gather in Melbourne for the 20th International AIDS Conference to share and discuss some the latest advances in HIV-1/AIDS related issues. The Australian Society of Microbiology has seized this opportunity to devote the current issue of Microbiology Australia to highlight some of the HIV-1 research ongoing in Australia, and to illustrate the broad spectrum of work being carried out here.

Australia has been fortunate to have inspiring leaders in the HIV research arena. The clinical evaluation and eventual roll out of antiretroviral therapy in Australia has been driven by Professor David Cooper at the Kirby Institute. The basic and translational research effort has been coordinated through the Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis led by Professor Tony Cunningham at University of Sydney. HIV cure research is being advanced substantially by Professor Sharon Lewin at Monash University and Burnet Institute. These three eminent clinician/scientists present summaries of their fields and recent highlights of their research within this issue.

The HIV research effort across clinical and translational science across Australia is broad. The articles within highlight advances in immune reconstitution disorders, the impact of antiretroviral therapy on cardiovascular disease, therapeutic vaccination, HIV-specific antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity, and the use of HIV treatment as a prevention strategy. Australian HIV-1 research continues to have a strong clinical and treatment focus.

Similarly, works on HIV-1 entry, regulation of HIV-1 replication via small RNAs, cell biology of HIV-1, and the impact of HIV-1 on inflammation and the innate immune response represent some of the excellent examples of high quality basic HIV-1 research in the ‘land down under’.

We hope you enjoy the enclosed articles on highlights of Australian HIV research and that all the delegates at the IAS World AIDS conference have a stimulating time in Melbourne.


Professor Johnson Mak is an ARC Future Fellow, Chair of Infectious Diseases at Deakin University Faculty of Health, and Head of the Laboratory of Emerging Viruses and HIV-1 Biology at Commonwealth Science Industry Research Organisation, Australian Animal Health Laboratory. He is a molecular virologist by training, and his laboratory utilises a combination of molecular virology, biostatistics, cell biology, protein biochemistry and biophysical approaches to interrogate HIV-1 replication.

Professor Stephen Kent is an infectious diseases physician at The Alfred Hospital and Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and a professor of microbiology and immunology at The University of Melbourne. He received his MBBS and MD degrees at Monash University and undertook training in viral immunology at the University of Washington in the USA. He manages a large research laboratory at the Peter Doherty Institute of The University of Melbourne studying immunity to HIV.

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