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ExEC commended in Premier’s Award for Health & Medical Research

ExEC commended in Premier’s Award for Health & Medical Research

Congratulations to Dr Michelle Tate (Class of 2001) who received $8,000 and a certificate in recognition for her work from the Premier of Victoria at Government House.

Michelle, a  medical researcher whose investigation into the ‘flu virus’ has been welcomed by international scientists, today received a commendation in the 2011 Premier’s Award for Health and Medical Research.

The Chelsea resident focused her postgraduate studies on the relationship between the body’s immune system and the ‘flu virus’.

Central to her study was trying to work out why the virus affected different people in different ways.

Each year the influenza A virus causes worldwide illness and death. People are seldom reinfected by the same type of influenza because of the ability of the virus to mutate and escape recognition by the body’s immune system.

As Michelle says, this is one reason why vaccination is sometimes ineffective.

During her investigations, she characterised the body's first-line defences against influenza virus infection. She also identified structures on the surface of influenza virus that were recognised by these defences and showed that virus mutants that escaped detection were able to cause severe disease.

Scientists worldwide who are working to understand the public health threat of drift and shift strains of influenza have welcomed the breakthrough.

The findings provide a more detailed understanding of the immune defences involved in the early recognition and destruction of influenza and other viruses.

They are also an important step in facilitating the development of new antiviral medications.

During the course of her PhD, Michelle authored 10 papers in international peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Virology and the
Journal of Immunology.

She undertook her PhD in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, the University of Melbourne. She is now working at the Monash Institute of Medical Research.

The Premier’s Award for Health and Medical Research is an initiative of the Victorian Government and the Australian Society for Medical Research and is presented annually to an outstanding Victorian postgraduate health or medical researcher scholar.