The award, announced last night, recognises Dr Marchingo’s groundbreaking immunology research as well as her advocacy for vaccination and gender equity.
Dr Marchingo received a PhD from The University of Melbourne in 2015 for her research at the institute (as the university’s Department of Medical Biology) into how external signals influence the magnitude of immune responses. This led to her being the first author on a publication in the journal Science that demonstrated that the more times immune T cells divide, the more powerfully they can fight their target.
The award also recognises Dr Marchingo’s commitment to community engagement, including volunteering at a ‘vaccination café’ that provided influenza vaccines and broader immunisation information to members of the public in the Melbourne CBD in 2014 and 2015, as part of the Day of Immunology. In addition, Dr Marchingo held several leadership roles during her time at the institute, including being a student representative to the Australasian Society for Immunology and president of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s student association, as well as being a member of the institute’s Gender Equity in Science Committee.
Dr Marchingo said she was honoured to receive the award. “Research is a team effort, and this is a tribute to the wonderful mentorship provided by my supervisors, Dr Susanne Heinzel and Professor Phil Hodgkin,” she said. “My PhD studies were an amazing experience, because of the many fantastic people I was able to work with, and who supported me throughout my time at the institute.
“Working in such a great environment has made the science fun: I’ve relished the creative aspect of formulating hypotheses and developing experiments to test these, as well as collaborating with my colleagues to understand what our results mean,” Dr Marchingo said.
Institute director Professor Doug Hilton said Dr Marchingo was a worthy recipient of the Victorian Young Achiever Award. “Since Julia started at the institute in 2010, she has demonstrated the diverse skills that are required to be a successful scientist,” he said. “As well as being immensely talented and skillful, Julia has demonstrated leadership amongst her peers, particularly on issues such as improving gender balance in science, as well as a commitment to ensuring the wider community is engaged and informed about immunology research and its impact on society.”
Dr Marchingo’s involvement in immunology research will continue when she takes up a postdoctoral position at the University of Dundee, UK, later this year, which will be funded by a European Molecular Biology Organisation fellowship followed by a European Commission Marie Sklodowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship. “Travelling overseas will allow me to extend the skills I developed during my PhD, equipping me to delve further into how our immune system functions,” she said.
Dr Marchingo’s research at the institute was funded by an Alan W Harris Award, the Edith Moffat Stipend, an Australian Postgraduate Award, the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Cancer Council Victoria Sydney Parker Smith Postdoctoral Fellowship. She has also been awarded the 2014 Australasian Society for Immunology New Investigator Award and the 2014 Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre Picchi Award for Excellence in Cancer Research.
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