- Change Agent
There are now an estimated 36.7 million people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) globally, including 25,000 in Australia and 6,000 in Victoria. Although effective treatment is now available for HIV, it is lifelong and there is still no cure. Professor Sharon Lewin, infectious diseases physician and world-renowned scientist, is on a mission to find such a cure. Her passion for her work, and her commitment to inclusion for people living with HIV, are clear to all who meet her.
Sharon is the inaugural Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital. Under her direction, the Institute has established itself as a leader in the field of infectious diseases and immunology. Sharon is internationally recognized for her own HIV research and has served as President of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine.
Sharon’s main focus is finding a cure for HIV, which involves investigating how and why HIV persists during treatment, and clinical trials aimed at eliminating the virus. Her work on HIV and the immune system, and how HIV interacts with the hepatitis B virus, has led to significant changes in the way HIV is managed.
A leader in medical research herself, Sharon is committed to increasing women’s participation in research leadership roles. As Director of the Doherty Institute, she is a member of the Women in Science Parkville Precinct (WiSPP) group, which brings together five of Australia’s largest medical research institutes to boost the numbers of women in science leadership.
In recognition of her work, Sharon has been named Melburnian of the Year (2014), the first woman awarded Research Australia’s Peter Wills Award (2015) for outstanding contributions to international medical research, the Nadine Watson Lecturer for the Garvan Institute (2017) and an Officer of the Order of Australia (2019).