Blog April 2014 - Dec 2016

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See Stephen's Lab Blog for 2009 - March 2014

See Stephen's Lab Blog for April 2017 to present

December 2016

Great news in the Kent Lab! Matt, Amy and Adam were all successful with CIA NHMRC Project Grants – amazing!! 3 for 3!... Even though the overall national success rate is less than 20%. They are all on their way to great scientific careers – Stephen is very proud! Amy also won a prestigious amfAR Krim Fellowship.

Huge news also – Sarah and Hyon-Xhi passed their PhD theses with only minimal comments. Well done to both! Fernanda and Josh are now writing up.

Matt, Kevin and Wen Shi recently gave great presentations at the R4P HIV vaccine conference in Chicago. Kevin had a really good paper accepted into AIDS recently – congratulations! Amy has given some nice talks in Amsterdam, London, Edinburgh and Beijing.

The other big news is our lab’s expansion! We have three new research assistants starting - Robyn, Kathleen and Ester. We have a new PhD student, Julius Wong, starting in Jan 2017 and Hannah is helping Stephen co-supervise a PhD student from Monash Pharmacy – Song Khor.

Our Lab Christmas function is coming up soon at Tsubu Bar and Anne is busy organising fun and games! I hope you all have a great break over the holidays!

Group photo from Kent Lab ski trip
Stephen with his lab group at Mt Buller, August 2016.
Kent students at Mt Buller 2016
Lab group at Mt Buller 2016.

September 2016

Big news ….. we had a successful lab ski trip to Mt Buller. The weather was kind and our first-time or near first-time skiers Wen Shi, Kevin, Yi and Fernanda improved in leaps and bounds, sometimes with a few bruises! Stephen tortured the group in the evening by making them all provide 4 suggestions on how to improve the lab. Who would have thought that after a glass of wine or beer there was no shortage of advice coming in! We hope the lab will continue to be an interesting and enjoyable place to work. Jane did an amazing job organizing all the logistics – thanks Jane.

In other news Jennifer Juno has started as a new post-doc. Hannah Kelly will be starting with us shortly and Julius Wong as a PhD student next year.  Sarah and Hyon-Xhi have handed in their theses – well done! Sarah is overseas travelling at present and Hyon-Xhi will be working with us as a post-doc for awhile. Milla is working with us now and has her fingers crossed for a position in medical school next year. Fernanda has started writing up her thesis – so far it’s coming along well!

Plenty of travel and conferences lately. Much of the lab attended and presented at the International Congress of Immunology in Melbourne recently. Hillary however was presenting her work at the Options Flu conference in the US and visiting her family in Canada. Josh is off to a nano-medicine conference in Paris soon. Amy is giving talks at conferences and meetings in Amsterdam, Edinburgh and London! Stephen, Kevin, Wen Shi and Matt are going to the HIV prevention (“R4P”) conference in Chicago. Locally Vinca is going to a Flow Cytometry workshop in Sydney and Milla and Kevin are going to the HIV conference in Adelaide in the coming months.

Stephen and PhD student Sarah Lloyd posing for Virology website photo
Stephen and PhD student Sarah Lloyd posing for Virology website photo!

May 2016

Welcome back to the Blog! After some University website reorganization issues (don’t ask…. Grrrr) we're back brighter than ever. Many thanks to our website guru Alan Woodgyer for his perseverance!

BIG NEWS! We passed the 200 publications mark! We had a great celebration recently at a restaurant in Hardware lane  - Josh organized a great night as he was the 1st author of number 200. Bring on #250! There are murmurings about a lab ski trip!

Too much news to fill in in any detail over the last 6 months - very briefly - Anne is back after successfully defending her Masters, Milla is doing a great 3rd year prac project with us, Dr Vijaya is graduating soon, Rob and Wendy have moved on to new ventures but continue to keep an eagle eye on co-supervised students, Jennifer is starting soon we hope, great papers from Hillary, Adam, Fernanda, Josh, Wen Shi, Hyon-Xhi and Sarah lately – what a great group of students we have. Sarah’s paper, "High fidelity mutants less fit than wild type SIV in vitro and in vivo" was highlighted recently in the Virology Highlights Blog.  Vinca, Thakshila and Sriveni are doing an excellent job with some big trials at present and keeping us all on track.

photo of Kent Lab group enjoying celebratory dinner
Lab staff out for dinner for 200th paper celebration (missing Amy, Vinca, Thakshila, Sriveni, Ivan)
photo of Stephen at celebration dinner
Stephen giving boring speech thanking everyone for all their hard work
Cent-Gardes conference group photo

October 2015

Stephen attended the Cent-Gardes Conference on HIV Vaccine in France, see if you can spot him in the photo opposite.

September 2015

Lots of progress with all our great students at present – Hillary and Fernanda recently sailed through PhD committee presentations; William is back to medical school after a great elective – his project is being ably take over by Anne; Hyon-Xhi has submitted a paper, Wen Shi and Josh are working on putting papers together at present; Vijaya has submitted her PhD and is now working with us as a postdoc for the next year or so on our Australia-India collaboration; Kevin continues to generate great data and is a real asset to the lab; Shay gave an excellent PhD oration and is working towards submitting her thesis before too long.

Wendy has moved on to 2 great jobs (Prostate foundation and Affinity Bio) and there were many farewells at various levels! We wish her all the best and no doubt will see her from time to time – she’s still an honorary member of our department and is helping co-supervise Sarah through her last year of her PhD.

We had our NHMRC program grant 3 day meeting in Queensland recently and Rob, Matt, Adam and Amy gave excellent presentations. Stephen has been in Indonesia recently at a meeting and catching up with collaborators there (see photo below).

August 2015

Group photo of participants at Bogor Conference
Stephen presented at a primate conference in Indonesia.

June 2015

Josh presenting at the Riken meeting
PhD student Josh Glass presenting his nanoparticle uptake work at the Riken Immunology Program in Japan.
Vijaya and her sister, pictured at her sister's wedding
Vijaya with her sister - at her sister's wedding
photo of lab staff at mini retreat
Lab staff at a mini-retreat over a pleasant lunch at Denmark House

Our new expanded lab is going well. Vinca counted up we have something like 22 people at present! We’ve been reorganising things like the lab meeting and various routine jobs to keep the lab running smoothly. Our latest addition, PhD student Kevin from Singapore, is fitting in really well and already generating interesting data with Matt’s help.

We recently had a lab mini-retreat over a pleasant lunch at Denmark House (see photo). They had lovely open sandwiches. Anne, our Danish Masters student, approved. She feels like if she can just get a nice dose of Danish rye bread from time to time that life will be pretty good in Australia! We had presentations from Stephen, Ivan, Rob, Matt, Wendy, Adam and Amy letting everyone know their plans over the next couple of years. Stephen also presented some information from a recent Doherty institute meeting which is working towards getting all the partners of the Doherty working even closer together.

Lots of birthdays recently also in the lab so opportunities for cake and embarrassing singing of happy birthday. You can see one of the cakes on our new instagram page @kentlaboratory. Check out our lab facebook page also @kentlaboratory. I’m trying to link these sites from our webpage at some stage also but the University web administrators move in mysterious and very slow ways!

photo from Stephens hike in Tasmania
Some pics from Stephen's recent epic hike around the coast of South Tasmania.

March 2015

Stephen has recently returned from a rather epic hike. He hiked for 25 days down the southern half of the West Coast of Tasmania with his friend Greg (see a few photos). No tracks, no campsites to speak of, no huts, no mobile phone coverage, didn’t see a soul. They lost quite a bit of weight but are busy putting it back on. There were all sorts of adventures along the way. Our motto was “You know you’re alive”. He’s very grateful for the perseverance of his lab members for their hard work, dedication and professionalism while he was away – a real credit to everyone.
stephens hike photos
stephens hike photos
stephens tasmanian hike
Stephens tasmanian hike
stephens tasmanian hike
Stephens Tasmanian hike
stephens tasmanian hike
Stephens Tasmanian hike
Stephens Tasmanian hike
Stephens Tasmanian hike
stephens tasmanian hike
Stephens Tasmanian hike

Plenty going on in the lab and around as usual. Shay has returned from presenting at the CROI meeting in Seattle. Matt is off to the Keystone HIV meeting in Canada. Vijaya has returned from her trip to NARI in India and visiting home (see more photos). Hyon-Xhi returned from his trip to the USA (conference, trip to U. Minnesota and NIH) as has Fernanda (conference, trip to Scripps Institute in San Diego and visiting family in Mexico). Wendy is off on holidays to Malta soon. Thakshila has had a trip to Sri Lanka after the sad death of her nephew there. Rob and Stephen submitted NHMRC grants recently.

Our PhD students are doing well. Josh, Sarah, Hyon-Xhi and Vijaya sailed through various committee meetings. Wen Shi has started his PhD with us after excelling with us doing his BSc Honours degree last year – we have high hopes for him. Two more PhD students are starting in the next couple of months – Matthew from Canberra and Kevin from Singapore. Thao our honors student this year has made a great start with Thakshila and Vinca’s guidance. William our medical student is doing really well with Hillary’s expert guidance. We have a Masters student from Denmark, Anne, starting soon. Adam Wheatley a former PhD student from the Purcell lab who has spent time at the Vaccine Research Centre at the NIH has just started with us. Amy Chung who did an amazing PhD with us and has been at Harvard/Ragon Institute will be starting back with us in the coming months also. Plenty of new faces in the lab! Jane Batten (nee Dale) has returned to the lab part time to relive several of us from complex administrative duties. Stephen (our resident social media dinosaur) has plans for our new students to get the lab more active on social media – watch out for us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram soon!

Photos of Kent personnel on their recent trip to NARI, India

photos of kent personnel at  NARIphotos of kent personnel at NARIkent staff at NARIphoto of lab at NARI
photo of kent personnel in front of NARI building Vijaya, Stephen and Matt at the National AIDS Research Instuture in Pune, India
photo of Geelong lab staff
Our dedicated animal technical staff in Geelong

December 2014


Another year coming to a close. Shay has had 2 nice papers in J Virol coming out, and the lab has multiple other papers in various stages – a very successful publishing year.

Thakshila has been continuing on with Caroline’s MAIT cell work very adeptly and we hope to have a honors student on this project next year. Thakshila continues to do a great job organizing our regulatory compliance. Vinca has been working with both Rob and Josh on the multiple nanoparticle collaborations as well as with Sri from Monash on a novel T cell epitope study.

Sarah has been busy with presentations at local meetings. Hyon-Xhi is off to a course in Hong Kong on mucosal immunity and then early next year is attending a Keystone meeting as well as visiting collaborators in cold Minnesota. Fernanda is also attending the Keystone viral immunology meeting and also spending time in Denis Burton’s lab in San Diego as well as visiting home over Xmas. Vijaya is writing her thesis up and will be visiting the labs of our collaborators in Pune in India over several weeks early next year. She recently attended a dinner at the MCG with the Australian and Indian prime ministers so is keeping good company! Shay is busy with her last project and hopes to be writing up her PhD during the first half of 2015. Wen Shi has a very successful honors year and we hope he’ll be back for a PhD next year.

Rob is busy keeping Josh and Hyon-Xhi on track. Matt has had a ton of papers out this year and has a series of projects on the go. Marit attended our NHMRC program retreat, together with daughter Lily, and is on maternity leave. Ivan is busy with his B cell isolation studies in collaboration with Duke University. Wendy is involved with a number of monoclonal Ab projects.

We have a number of PhD students interested in starting with us next year that is exciting and some senior post-docs are considering returning to Australia that will also be fantastic. Watch this space for our expansion plans!

photo of Lewis after his graduation
Our Medical Student Lewis, who spent time in the laboratory, seen at his graduation
photo of Stephen at Living Positive meeting
Stephen with Doherty Director Sharon Lewin and Brent Allen from Living Positive Victoria at the World AIDS day breakfast presentation.
photo of those attending conference in China
Members of staff from Fudan University and the University of Melbourne attending the joint workshop of infection and immunology.

September 2014

Its football finals time in Melbourne – go Bombers (my second favorite team). We were sad to see Swarali head back to India – she was great to have in the lab learning things and assisting with ADCC assays on Elite controllers. Well done to Vijaya for being such a gracious mentor and host. See photos of us all at Wendy’s Malaysian night and a going away lunch.

We had the launch of the Australian Research Council Centre of excellence in Nanoscience we are part of recently – see photos. The research is broad with some great investigators to collaborate with – it has is own website with more photos etc: www.bionano.org.au/

Fernanda got through her confirmation with flying colors and is a fully fledged PhD student now. Hillary is at a student retreat and Josh is at the snow this week. Rob is on his way back from an epic Kilimanjaro assault - stay tuned for the photos. Wen Shi is in the final month or 2 of his honors work, which is going pretty well. Matt and Wendy are busy writing papers.

July 2014

We got through the massive AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne - thoroughly enjoyed and a great learning experience for all. Well done to all the presenters and chairs etc from the lab. Thanks to Vinca and Thakshila for holding hte fort in the lab.

We are hosting Madhuri, Ashwini and Swarali from India at present - they're lovely poeple and clever scientists so we're confident it'll be a great collaboration. Vijaya has been very helpful as a gracious host, organiser and travel agent!

Lewis has finished his scholarly selective medical student term with us and done very well. He landed an intern job at the Alfred hospital which he was rapt about as it was his first choice. Shay has her 2nd year PhD review coming up and has a couple of papers close to submission.

Hillary from Canada has started and is settling in well. Wendy is hosting a lab Malaysian night in a few weeks - stay tuned for the red carpet shots there.

photo taken at Swarali's farewell lunch

Going away lab lunch for Swarali at Lygon St Pizza place.

kent malaysian curry wendy

Malaysian curry night at Wendy's.
photo of Stephen and Peter Doherty

Stephen and Peter Doherty at the ARC CoE launch.

photo of our collaborators

Collaborator Frank Caruso (L) with Tom Davis and head of ARC.
kent lab personnel at AIDS 2014

Kent lab out in force at the AIDS 2014 conference.

kent dinner with our Indian friends

Dinner with our friends from India and also Hillary.

June 2014

Well Australia has tragically been eliminated from the World Cup, but gave a brave showing. We can turn our allegiances to Fernanda's Mexico, Rob's Italy, Marit's Germany and Ivan's Russia now as well as everybody else's favourite teams. We recently held a Mexican-themed lab dinner - see photos. Special guest appearance was from Fernanda's parents-in-law bearing amazing tamales. We also had a lab lunch for Caroline and Jeanette recently - Jeanette is hard at work at her new job with the department of Population Health and Caroline is off to Malaysia and Italy soon.

Stephen, Rob and Josh have been gearing up for our ARC centre of excellence in nanomedicine studies. This is a 7 year grant with some 19 co-investigators around Australia, so its a great opportunity to initiate multiple collaborations. Josh and Stephen are off to a Nanomedicine conference in Sydney soon.

The world AIDS conference here in Melbourne is not far off. We have a delegation from the National AIDS Research Institute in Pune, India coming out and spending time with us after the meeting. We have an Australian-Indian Strategic Research Fund grant to do collaborative work on ADCC immunity to HIV with them. One of their staff, Dr Swarali Kurle, will be spending a month with us after the conference, working mainly with Vijaya on various ADCC studies.

Rob recently published a nice article in the University's supplement to The Age newspaper, called The voice, about his charity work on brain cancer - see here. His charity website where you can make donations is here.

May 2014

Breaking news. Marit had a beautiful baby girl, Lily - see photos. Family is all well. Congratulations Marit and Gregor!

Also, Fernanda had her first paper accepted and has decided to do a PhD! Congratulations also Fernanda!

April 2014

We’re enjoying our new home at the Peter Doherty Institute. Our collaborators at VIDRL and the WHO influenza centre are moving in now which is exciting. Vinca organised a lovely morning tea for all our neighbours on the 7th floor soon - see photo. Things are running pretty well. The PC3 here has just been certified here, so we’ve been using the old one in the old building until now.

Plenty of papers coming out – Vijaya had a nice paper accepted at AIDS for which we celebrated with crepes recently. We’re waiting on second reviews of one of Fernanda’s paper at present. Unfortunately Anna is heading back to Amsterdam soon – we had a farewell lunch for her recently – see photo. We’ll miss her.

Stephen caught up with a future PhD student Hillary Vanderven in Canada on his way to a Keystone meeting recently – she’s starting in July after just getting married to her Australian partner. Stephen gave a talk at the Keystone HIV meeting and Vijaya and Marit gave a posters (see photo). It was good to see former students Rosie and Gamze at the conference and catch up with our good collaborator Miles Davenport. Stephen has plenty of more talks coming up soon (aaargh, better start writing them!)– including one at a Flu meeting in Geneva – see photo of him in action recently.

Rob is working on a collaborative Gates Foundation grant with Thomas Gebhardt from the Carbone group at present. Wendy is working on a NHMRC development grant also. Ivan is busy collecting elite controller samples at present for his studies. Matt has a ton of studies and papers on the go, keeping an eye on Wen Shi, Lewis and Shayarana. Matt is off to a Canadian HIV conference soon - he was recently awarded a Canadian CIHR fellowship - well done! Josh has settled in well and he and Rob have lots of ideas for his nanoparticle work. Hyon-Xhi and Sarah both sailed through their confirmations and have lots of studies on the go, hoping to pull things together for papers this year. Most of our students are attending the World AIDS conference in Melbourne in late July. Vinca and Thakshila are busy as always – Thakshila is starting to look at MAIT cells now under Caroline’s guidance while Caroline waits for her thesis reviews.

Stephen and Miles  Davenport at Keystone Meeting
Stephen and collaborator Miles Davenport at Keystone Meeting, Canada.
Stephen and Vijaya at Keystone Meeting
Stephen and Vijaya at Keystone Meeting, Canada.

photo of Lewis presenting his poster at medical student conference

Lewis at his medical student conference

group photo at Mexican evening
Lab Mexican night.
photo from Mexican evening
Spot the fake Mexicans (hint: rainbow ponchos).
Marit's daughter Lily
Lily.
Gregor, Marit and Lily
Marit, Gregor and Lily.
collage of pics from Level 7, west side, morning tea
7 West morning tea.
Stephen speaking at a conference
Stephen speaking at a recent conference.
anna seen opening her present at her going away lunch
Anna opening her presents at going away lunch.
group photo at Anna's going away lunch
Going away lunch for Anna.