Event: Pandemics, pathogens and the environment

Leading experts from the School of Biomedical Sciences and Doherty Institute will engage in a public panel discussion to unpack the global challenges of infectious diseases.

In this free public event, Pandemics, pathogens and the environment: Understanding threats to our health, which will be held on Monday 9 September, a panel of infectious disease experts will delve into some of the world’s most significant health problems.

The discussion will be centred around the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 10 threats to global health requiring urgent attention, announced at the beginning of 2019. The panellists will examine the true burden of these issues on national and global levels, and how we can all play a role in limiting their impact on society.

While several serious diseases are explicitly named in the WHO’s list, it also includes environmental and socio-economic problems that exacerbate the impacts of infectious diseases and other health issues.

The complete list of threats to global health includes:

  • Air pollution and climate change
  • Noncommunicable diseases
  • Global influenza pandemic
  • Fragile and vulnerable settings
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Ebola and other high-threat pathogens
  • Weak primary health care
  • Vaccine hesitancy
  • Dengue
  • HIV

The panellists will include leading researchers from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and their collaborators. The discussion will be hosted by Michael Rowland of the ABC’s News Breakfast program.


 Laureate Professor Peter Doherty

Winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine and Patron of the Doherty Institute

Laureate Professor Peter Doherty, the Patron and namesake of the Doherty Institute, has been involve in research on infection and immunity for 50 years. He shared a Nobel Prize with Swiss colleague Rolf Zinkernagel in 1996 for their discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell-mediated immune defence and the biological role of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC).

His research over the past four decades has focussed on T cell-mediated immunity in virus infections. His current focus is increasingly on the public communication of science and on defending an evidence-based view of the world.


Professor Sharon Lewin

Director of the Doherty Institute

Leading infectious diseases expert, Professor Sharon Lewin, is the inaugural director of the Doherty Institute. She is also a Professor of Medicine at The University of Melbourne and a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Practitioner Fellow.

As an infectious disease physician and basic scientist, her laboratory focusses on basic, translational and clinical research aimed at finding a cure for HIV and understanding the interaction between HIV and the hepatitis B virus.


Professor Anna Meredith

Head of Melbourne Veterinary School

Professor Anna Meredith joined the University of Melbourne in July 2018 as Head of the Melbourne Veterinary School. She is a Fellow and Recognised Specialist in Zoological Medicine of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and a Specialist in Wildlife Population Health of the European College of Zoological Medicine.

Professor Meredith’s research interests centres on the One Health approach, with a focus on emerging infectious diseases of wildlife and wildlife as indicators of ecosystem health.


Professor Ian Barr

Deputy Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza

Professor Ian Barr has had over 35 years’ experience in biological research and development in academic institutions and at CSL Limited on various topics such as vaccine development, mucosal immunology, adjuvants, cancer therapeutics, immune system development and diagnostics.

Professor Barr has authored and co-authored over 150 publications on various aspects of influenza in high impact journals such as Nature, Science, and eLife. He has several patents granted and received numerous national and international research grants.


Associate Professor Deborah Williamson

Deputy Director of the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory (MDU PHL) at the Doherty Institute

As well as being Deputy Directory of the MDU PHL at the Doherty Institute, Associate Professor Deborah Williamson is also a Laboratory Head in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences. She is involved in the delivery of specialist public health laboratory services, and in the diagnosis and surveillance of communicable diseases.

Associate Professor Williamson’s research interests include the molecular epidemiology and pathogenesis of infections caused by antimicrobial resistant pathogens, and the translation of genomic technologies to questions of public health importance.


Dr Katherine Gibney

Infectious Diseases Physician at Austin Health and Epidemiologist at the Doherty Institute

Dr Katherine Gibney is an infectious disease physician, public health physician and medical epidemiologist. She has a particular interest in infections in immigrants and returned travellers, vector-borne diseases and gastrointestinal infections, and Indigenous health.

Dr Gibney works at the Austin Hospital and the Doherty Institute, and has an appointment in Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Surveillance in the Victorian Department of Health.

The Doherty Institute is dedicated to finding solutions to prevent, treat and cure infectious diseases. On a daily basis, their staff are working on a cure for HIV, a universal one-shot flu vaccine and new antibiotics.

The event will be held at the Melbourne Convention Centre on Monday 9 September, 6pm-7.30pm. It has been organised in partnership with the Convergence Science Network, with the support of the Club Melbourne Ambassador Program.

It forms part of the Doherty Institute’s five-year anniversary celebrations, alongside an Open Morning on Wednesday 11 September, where staff from the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct are invited to tour the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza.

Register to attend Pandemics, pathogens and the environment:


Register to attend the Doherty Institute’s Open Morning here.