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Professor Gilda Tachedjian

Head, Life Sciences Discipline; Head, Retroviral Biology and Antivirals Laboratory
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Awarded her PhD at Monash University, Professor Tachedjian received an NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship to undertake postdoctoral studies at Columbia University in New York with Professor Stephen Goff on retroviral replication.

In 2002, Professor Tachedjian was recruited to Burnet Institute. She was awarded an NHMRC RD Wright Career Development Award in 2003 and an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship’s in 2009 and in 2017.

Professor Tachedjian is a virologist combining interdisciplinary basic, translational and clinical research to identify and develop effective drug-based strategies to prevent and control emerging pathogens including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). She has made major contributions to HIV reverse transcriptase, antivirals, drug resistance, and HIV prevention research including advancing understanding of the role of the vaginal microbiome in modulating HIV acquisition in women. Professor Tachedjian was awarded the Fenner Prize in 2012 by the Australian Society for Microbiology for her distinguished contributions to research in Microbiology and received the Burnet Fenner Award in the same year for significant contributions to Burnet’s vision and mission in the area of medical research.

Professor Tachedjian’s current areas of interest include: 
1.    Discovering a new drug class for HIV treatment and prevention using fragment-based drug design
2.    Defining the role of the vaginal microbiome and their metabolites in modulating adverse sexual (i.e. HIV) and reproductive health outcomes
3.    Characterising viruses that circulate in bats and the role of their unique antiviral factors in controlling viruses that cause disease in humans and other species.
Major research findings include discovering that a metabolite produced by optimal vaginal microbiota has potent HIV virucidal activity and immunobiological effects on cervicovaginal epithelial cells that could explain in part why optimal vaginal lactobacilli are associated with decreased susceptibility to HIV (US Patent awarded in 2017). 

Discovered new building blocks for drugs that target the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase by mechanisms distinct to antiretrovirals used for HIV treatment and prevention as well as mutations in HIV reverse transcriptase that confer resistance to antiretroviral drugs which are incorporated in genotyping algorithms for predicting HIV drug resistance and guiding HIV therapy.

Discovered the first replication competent retrovirus related to koala retrovirus (KoRV) circulating in bats that are significant reservoirs for deadly zoonotic viruses. Discovered novel bat variants of major classes of host antiviral genes, tetherin and APOBEC3, that are more numerous and diverse of any mammal reported to date.
Played major roles in the preclinical development of microbicides to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and HSV and the completion of a phase I clinical study (SPL7013-003) to determine the retention of the dendrimer microbicide VivaGel after vaginal dosing in healthy women. The dendrimer is now on the market as an antiviral condom coating to prevent sexually transmitted infections.

Professor Tachedjian developed a yeast two-hybrid assay for studying the interaction between the two subunits of the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) enzyme, which was patented. This led to the discovery that potent nonnucleoside RT inhibitors (NNRTIs) enhance reverse transcriptase subunit interaction that can unexpectedly affect the late stages of HIV replication by prematurely activating the HIV protease enzyme. This pivotal discovery has underpinned the development, by Pharma, of a novel class of compounds to eliminate CD4+ T cells expressing HIV-1 by a direct killing mechanism.

  • 1997: PhD in Microbiology, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
  • 1984: BSc (Hons), Monash University, Australia
  • 2023 – ongoing: Co-convenor, Victorian Infection and Immunity Network (VIIN)
  • 2023 – ongoing: WHO Expert Group on Retroviruses, Priority Preparedness Pathogens
  • 2022 – ongoing: Member, Retroviridae Study Group, International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV)
  • 2022: Member, National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Expert Advisory Group
  • 2022: Assessor Elevate: Boosting women in STEM program (ATSE)
  • 2020 – ongoing: Academic Editor, HIV/Retroviruses, PLoS Pathogens 
  • 2020 – ongoing: Burnet Biosafety Committee Member
  • 2020: Reviewer, Canadian Research Chairs
  • 2020: Panel Member, MRFF RCRDUN COVID-19
  • 2019 - 2022: Section Editor, Viruses
  • 2019 – Ongoing: Lead, Enhancing the vaginal environment and microbiome (EVE-M) 
  • 2018 – ongoing: Senior Principal Research Fellow, Burnet Institute
  • 2018 – ongoing: Adjunct Professor, Department of Microbiology,  Monash University
  • 2018 – ongoing: Member, Alfred Research Alliance Scientific Advisory Committee
  • 2018 – 2019: Consultant, Reef Pharmaceuticals
  • 2017 – ongoing: Honorary Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Doherty Institute, University of Melbourne 
  • 2017 – 2021: President, Australasian Virology Society
  • 2017 – 2021: Co-Founder and Co-Chair, Genital Microbiome Consortium 
  • 2017 – 2019: Member, National Examinations and Qualifications Board, Australian Society for Microbiology
  • 2017 – ongoing: Member, Burnet Institute Promotions Committee
  • 2016 – ongoing: Executive Member, Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Virology Research
  • 2016 – 2018: Adjunct Professor, RMIT University
  • 2016 – 2017: Member, Biomedical Research Victoria Scientific Advisory Committee
  • 2015 – 2017: Vice President, Australasian Virology Society
  • 2014 – Ongoing: Co-founder of the Melbourne HIV Exchange (mHIVE) 
  • 2014 – 2019: Editorial Board, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
  • 2013- 2011, 2015: Chair, Burnet Institute Travel Awards Committee
  • 2013: Principal for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Burnet Institute
  • 2012 – 2017: Member Judging Panel, Premiers Award for Health and Medical Research
  • 2012: Chair, Scholarships Committee International Microbicide Conference
  • 2011- ongoing: Fellow of the Australian Society for Microbiology (FASM)
  • 2011 – Ongoing: Associate Editor, PLoS ONE
  • 2011 – 2012: Chair, NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarships review panel
  • 2009: Principal Burnet Fellow, Burnet Institute
  • 2009 – ongoing: Editorial Board, AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
  • 2008 - 2018: Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology. Monash University
  • 2007 – 2009: Consultant, Starpharma 
  • 2006: Consultant, Biotron
  • 2006 – 2017: NHMRC Group Review Panel Member, Microbiology Discipline
  • 2006 – 2008: Deputy Head, Molecular Virology Program, Burnet Institute
  • 2006 – 2008: Member, National Scientific Advisory Committee, Australian Society for Microbiology
  • 2005 - 2015: Editorial Board, Current HIV Research
  • 2005 – 2008: Honorary Senior Lecturer, Department of Microbiology, Monash University
  • 2005 – 2007: Director, ASMR National Committee
  • 2005 – 2010: ASMR Liaison to the Premiers Award for Health and Medical Research
  • 2004 – 2005: Victorian State Convenor, ASMR Medical Research Week
  • 2004: Member, National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research Antiretroviral Working Group
  • 2003 – 2010: Member, Burnet Institute Equipment Committee
  • 2003 – 2012: Member, Burnet Research Students Committee
  • 2002: Committee Member, ASMR MRW, Victorian Branch
  • 2001: Consultant, Progenics New York
  • 2022: Monash Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Dean’s Award for Exceptional Performance by Hospital/Health Professional staff, working on Monash University programs/projects (for National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce)
  • 2021: Top Burnet Biomedical Research Publication in 2020
  • 2020: Nominated, KT Jeang Retrovirology Prize
  • 2017: NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship
  • 2012: Fenner Award, Burnet Institute
  • 2012: Fenner Award, Australian Society for Microbiology
  • 2009: NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship
  • 2008: Nick Crofts Publication Award for top rated publication from Burnet Institute  in 2007
  • 2005: Travel Award: 6th Annual Symposium on Antiviral Drug Resistance Targets and Mechanisms, Virginia, USA
  • 2003: NHMRC RD Wright Fellowship
  • 2003: CASS Foundation Postdoctoral Travel Grant
  • 2003: Travel Grant: Cold Spring Harbor Retroviruses Meeting, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
  • 2001: Travel Grant: 8th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI)
  • 2001: Course Participant: Protein Purification and Characterization, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • 1997: NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship
  • 1995: First Prize, Basic Science Presentation at the 7th Annual Conference, ASHM, Coolum QLD
  • 2017 – ongoing: Head, Life Sciences Discipline
  • 2018 – ongoing: Senior Principal Research Fellow, Burnet Institute
  • 2017 – 2022: NHMRC Senior Research Fellow
  • 2017 – ongoing: co-Head Eliminate HIV
  • 2011 – ongoing: Head, Retroviral Biology and Antivirals Laboratory, Burnet Institute 
  • 2009: Principal Burnet Fellow, Burnet Institute
  • 2009 – 2014: NHMRC Senior Research Fellow
  • 2003 – 2007: NHMRC RD Wright Fellow
  • 2003 – 2011: Head, Molecular Interactions Group, Burnet Institute 
  • 1997 – 2001: NHMRC CJ Martin Postdoctoral Fellow (Laboratory of Professor Stephen P. Goff) Columbia University, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New York, USA

2021 (5)

2020 (1)