Clinician-scientist: Dr Marc Pellegrini
Specialty: Infectious disease, MB BS Bsc FRACP PhD
Clinical appointments: Cabrini Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital and The Royal Melbourne Hospital
When did you start at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute?
I did my PhD at the institute with Andreas Strasser between 2000-2003 then went to Toronto for about 5 years and returned in 2009 as a laboratory head.
What are you currently researching at the institute?
Strategies to improve immunity and promote clearance and or functional cures for chronic, overwhelming infections in humans, including HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis viruses.
How has your research had an impact on the community, or how do you hope your research will impact the community?
Our initial discoveries relating to the immune hormone IL-7 have driven an explosion in US and European clinical trials of this cytokine in chronic infections and cancer.
Our intention is to make discoveries that will greatly reduce the global health burden of disease and deaths due to chronic, overwhelming infections, which collectively represent the leading cause of years of productive life lost in the world.
What made you want to become a clinician-scientist, and how did you get involved in medical research?
I was interested in science, inventing and making discoveries from a very young age. In secondary school my fascination was with things big (the universe and cosmology) and things small (particle physics and viruses).
Viruses and infectious pathogens prevailed because human health and disease become a driving force pushing me towards medicine and biomedical sciences. When I was at secondary school, the HIV epidemic was exploding and tuberculosis was making a massive resurgence. The lack of a cure for HIV and the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of tuberculosis created an urgency for me to start research into these major areas of need.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a clinician-scientist?
Do it! Create your own vision, follow your passion and exploit your talents to impact on all aspects of human health.
What are the benefits of being a clinician-scientist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute?
Being surrounded by brilliant minds that stoke your enthusiasm for making the discoveries that will make a difference.
Being at the epicentre of research and clinical care in the Parkville precinct, which boasts the institute, University of Melbourne, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Women’s Hospital, Royal Children’s Hospital and, soon, the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.