Invited Speaker Australian Society for Microbiology Annual Scientific Meeting 2018

A Virologist in Wonderland: through the looking glass (#119)

Paul Young 1
  1. University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

“Curiouser and curiouser!” wrote Lewis Carroll as Alice’s response to the weird and extraordinary events unfolding around her in Wonderland. I think it fair to say that this is not an uncommon experience for many scientists. At least it should be if you are working at the leading edge of discovery and amongst collegiate creativity. It has certainly been my experience – and a very rewarding and positive one. 

It is an honour to have been chosen as the Rubbo Orator this year. I will take this opportunity to reflect on some of my experiences in research and academia; my journey down the rabbit hole, and to draw some lessons learned. The Virologist in Wonderland title is a reflection of the exciting opportunities I have had, as well as some of the unexpected turns and adventures that a career in science can often bring. Like Alice, I have met a wide range of characters (including one or two “mad hatters” – and no, I won’t name them) who have influenced me along the way. Some as mentors, some as mentees and many as collaborators and friends. At this stage in my career I spend a lot of my time facilitating opportunities for my younger colleagues and I would like to share some thoughts and perspectives on a career in science. 

I will also discuss some recent exciting work under way in my laboratory, on a recombinant protein engineering approach to subunit vaccine design that helps drive a more potent, protective immune response. I will outline our application of this generic recombinant platform technology to rapid response efforts to emerging disease threats as well as our progress towards a universal flu vaccine.