Lecture: The Killer Defence: Viruses and Our Immune System

Over the past few years as part of Science Week, the Astronomical Society and CSU have invited a range of people who have made a mark in the scientific community and community in general, to speak to high school students about their careers in the different areas of Science. Some of the Scientists that Xavier students have had the privilege to listen to include Dr Fiona Wood, Australian of the Year in 2005, Professor Brian Schmidt 2011 Nobel Prize recipient and Professor Barry Jones, former Minister for Science.

Doherty, Peter

As part of Science Week this year, Year 12 Biology students were invited to attend a lecture, ‘The Killer Defence: Viruses and our Immune System’ by Nobel Laureate and 1997 Australian of the Year, Professor Peter Doherty. In 1996 Professor Doherty shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine with his colleague Rolf Zinkernagel, for their discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell-mediated immune defence.

His address to the students was aimed at helping people understand and appreciate science. He made it clear to the audience that the Australian population was not going to be wiped out by diseases such influenza or Ebola. He also outlined how new viruses arise and advocated the need for people to be immunised against diseases that are currently under control but could re-emerge due to complacency, such as measles.

As part of this program a student from each school was invited to have afternoon tea with Professor Doherty. Carla Hensel represented Xavier. Carla found the afternoon most interesting and enjoyable, appreciating the opportunity.

Mark Doyle, President of the Albury District Science teachers Association later presented Carla with a personally signed book, Professor Doherty’s semi-autobiographical ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize’.