Blogs 2017 and 2018


December 2018

Retreat and paper mania leading up to Christmas. We had an amazing NHMRC program retreat in Healesville – Jane did a super-human effort organising it so efficiently. Our international guest Louis Picker gave a large number of excellent talks. The O'Connor family helped organise various games and interactive ideas that worked really well.

Kent lab at an amazing NHMRC retreat in Healesville

Several of us also went to our ARC Centre of Excellent CBNS retreat in Terrigal NSW. We met with all our collaborations to keep the ball rolling on a large number of studies. Adam has had 2 great papers accepted recently with Hyon-Xhi in JCI and with Yi in Nature Communications – great effort. We got Sinth's last paper accepted at J Virol recently with a lot of recent help from Hillary, Kathleen, Hyon-Xhi and Jen. More champagne to come!

We had our lab retreat this year down near Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road (see photos). Timon Anne, Robyn and Jane did a great job of organising it. Plenty of work-related sessions of projects and ideas, team-building games (we even got the post-docs to pack tip-boxes!), group surfing lesson, board games and food, food, food. Everyone enjoyed it and I think I got to know everyone a bit better.

Our lab wishes you all a great holiday season and all the best for 2019.

October 2018

It's been a big month. Kevin gave his final PhD oration recently followed by much celebration – see photos. Matthew Worley's oration is coming up – should be huge! Wen Shi recently submitted his thesis – congratulations! All three are off to a HIV vaccine conference and an adjacent meeting with our European EAVI2020 partners soon.

Kent lab celebrating Kevin's PhD oration

We've had some amazing papers accepted lately in nice journals – JCI (congratulations Matt, Anne etc!), Lancet HIV (a big team effort including Vinca, Thakshila and our colleagues at MSHC), Nature Reviews Immunology (with Miles Davenport at UNSW), Nature Nanotechnology (with the Caruso team colleagues), Nature Communications (Hillary and colleagues at Vanderbilt) etc etc. See our publications page for an update. Adam, Hyon-Xhi and Yi are closing in on two fantastic additional papers in the Flu field in great journals also after positive reviews. Jen and Kathleen have two really nice stories on MAIT and gamma-delta T cells under submission and about to be submitted It's a credit to everyone involved.

We're busy planning a lab retreat near Lorne in December – Robyn, Timon, Anne and Jane are doing a great organising job. Stay tuned for surfing lessons, BBQ, gratefulness awards and more!

We also have a retreat with our CBNS nanomedicine partners in Terrigal NSW coming up. We've got a large number of collaborators going there, ably led by Hannah, Robyn, Vinca and Adam. Jane has been very busy organising our NHMRC program grant annual three-day meeting at Healesville also. Louis Picker from Oregon is our visiting scientist this year, assisted by our sabbatical residents from Wisconsin, the O'Connors. Stephen sits on mentoring committees for both the CBNS and our NHMRC program grant – he enjoys seeing people flourish to their full potential!

August 2018

Stephen has been on a 3 month sabbatical visiting several labs in Europe involved in the NHMRC-EU grant he leads with the EAVI2020 consortium. Its been very stimulating and he’s proud of how the lab hums along without him – a credit to all! We welcome to colleagues David and Shelby O’Connor from Wisconsin who are visiting us for a ~10 month sabbatical – they’ll be great additions to the lab as they are full of ideas and wonderful scientists. We also welcome Alessia Weiss to the lab for a few weeks finishing off a paper with Hannah. Milla McLean is taking a year off from medical school to spending a year back working with Amy from January which is exciting.

Stephen with colleague Lars Ostergaard from Denmark

Lots of great projects and papers on the go – it’s been a very productive year. The lab is currently dealing with reviewers from some major journals – fingers crossed. All our papers are team efforts so well done everyone.

We had several of us at the AIDS2018 conference in Amsterdam and there will be a reasonable contingent of us at the R4P HIV vaccine conference in Madrid later this year. Adam and Hyon-Xhi gave great presentations at a B cell Keystone meeting in Germany and similarly Jen and Kathleen gave great presentations at a T cell conference in France – we have many of the immune cell types covered!

Hillary finished her PhD in great style and immediately got a lecturer position at James Cook University in Queensland! She is retaining an honorary position here and we have lots of collaborative plans. Wen Shi, Matthew Worley and Kevin are busy writing up their theses at present!

May 2018

Congratulations to Amy Chung and her coauthors whose publication in the May issue of the Journal of Immunological Methods was featured as a news item on the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) webpages.

Hannah Kelly presenting her paper at the Australasian Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics Development Vaccine Conference: 16 – 18 May 2018, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, (VCCC) Melbourne, Australia.

Photo of Hannah Kelly presenting her paper at the AVID conference


December 2017

What a big year. We found out our NHMRC program grant got renewed with Stephen leading it – phew – see announcement . Stephen also found out he got his NHMRC fellowship renewed with a promotion to SPRF (phew again). Amy received a prestigious NHMRC CDF award and also received another NHMRC project grant – this one to work on Malaria antibodies with Dr Stephen Rogerson at the Doherty Institute. The lab celebrated the end of year with barefoot bowling – see photos below – and a little champagne of course.

We have plenty of people visiting friends and family overseas over the Xmas break – Hyon-Xhi, Wen Shi, Kevin, Matt, Yi, Timon and Sriveni I think are all overseas at present – the joys of having such as international lab group. Sinth is on his honeymoon at present in Europe – congratulations Sinth.

We are planning to welcome David and Shelby O’Connor here next August for a sabbatical. Both are highly respected HIV researchers who have expanded into multiple other pathogens. This continues a wonderful trans-pacific collaboration that started with a short sabbatical by Stephen in 2003! Dave was awarded a prestigious University of Melbourne Miegunyah followship to assist his sabbatical reflecting the esteem with which he is held here. Shelby has already been busy writing grants to kick off her research here. They are both quintessential “Doherty Institute-type” researchers with broad interests across infection and immunity and will add enormously to the Institute during their stay.

We wish everyone a great festive season.

September 2017

We had another great Lab ski retreat recently with 18 attendees! Thanks to Hillary and Jane for organising so efficiently. Below are some photos. The snow was deep and the evenings were full of “Big Ideas” science, as well as lots of ideas to maintain our high levels of productivity, motivation and (don't roll your eyes) being grateful for all the help we have. We’re having a ‘Gratefulness” morning tea soon to thank everyone who keeps us humming along as a pretty big research venture.

All the new staff have settled in so well, with Ester, Robyn and Kathleen being hugely helpful to the productivity of Amy, Adam and Jen -  lots of great data coming out. Julius, Timon and Hannah’s PhD’s are off to flying starts. Kuangyu is already ½ way through his Masters!

Some fairly intense bleed schedules lately with very busy hood days – Vinca, Thakshila and Sriveni are doing a great job with help from Anne and everyone else. Clare and the team in Geelong have been a big help.

Stephen had an NHMRC program grant interview recently which was somewhat nerve-racking  - fingers crossed for the result. Jane has taken over the admin load of our program which is keeping her on her toes.

Fernanda (and Sergio) had a beautiful baby girl! And passed her PhD! And has another first author paper accepted! All in the space of about 2 weeks, phew.

Fernanda and her beautiful baby girl

June 2017

Lots of papers coming out recently – see the publications page - so many that we had to have a combined celebration with some special champagne. Things got a little out of hand, formula 1 podium style. See our Instagram site for a small flavour.  Congratulations to all the authors. A special mention to Matt for the Science Translational Medicine paper.

Taking a breather from NHMRC program and fellowship grants at present, whew. Jane has been a big help getting our program grant application in. Sinth and Adam are battling project grant reviewers at present. The NHMRC system is changing substantially next year.

A big welcome to Timon from Germany who is starting a PhD with Amy. Sinth has also formally joined our group and has lots of Flu ideas as ever. We have a new vet Clare who will be helping with the animal facility. A teary goodbye to Fernanda – she’s finished her PhD (assuming reviewers are kind!) and off to San Diego for more adventures! Josh is writing up and Hillary will be next to write up!

Stephen at the Keystone HIV Vaccines meeting in Colorado

Photo of Stephen and Anna Schorcht at the Keystone HIV Vaccines meeting in Colorado
Stephen seen together with Anna Schorcht at the recent Keystone HIV Vaccines Meeting in Colarado

Anna Schorcht, who spent a few months with us, is now doing a PhD in HIV vaccines in Amsterdam! Proud that we didn't turn her off science and HIV!

February 2017

photo of Kent lab group on steps

Our expanded lab seems to be holding together. We are running out of desk and lab space but the department is thinking about ways to find us all some more space. Kathleen, Ester, Robyn, and Julius are all settling in and Timon will be starting soon. We were sad to see Milla head off to medical school. Vijaya has started a post-doc with Jamie Rossjohn’s group at Monash and we wish her well also (while she pulls together resubmissions of her last 2 papers!).

Matt is in Canada doing some work with AndrĂ©s Finzi’s group in Montreal. Kevin, Wen Shi and Kuangyu took some well-deserved time off for Chinese New Year. We’ve had some big bleed days lately with plenty of samples – well done to Vinca, Thakshila, Jen, Anne and everyone for pitching in to help. See our instagram site @kentlaboratory for some shots of the lab. Josh and Fernanda both sailed through various PhD committee meetings recently. Stephen and Jane have been busy submitting grants – ugh. More to come alas.

2017 Kent lab group

Jen Juno and the Christmas cake she made for us