Miles Davenport, Deborah Cromer & David Khoury outside Wallace Wurth

Policy-informing COVID-19 immunity research recognized as Eureka Prize finalist 

Media release | Published on 19 Jul 2023

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney and the Doherty Institute have been announced as finalists in the prestigious 2023 Eureka Prize Awards

Kirby Institute researchers Professor Miles Davenport, Associate Professor Deborah Cromer and Dr David Khoury join collaborators at the Doherty Institute as finalists for the 2023 Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research, for their research on COVID-19 immunity.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused great disruption. Fortunately, vaccines were rapidly developed, but with vaccines came questions, like which vaccine to get, when to get a booster, and what made us immune.

Professor Stephen Kent from the Doherty Institute said that his team worked collaboratively with the Kirby Institute on understanding immunity to COVID in order to answer these questions. “We had a Eureka moment in 2021. We found that the amount of antibody induced by a vaccine was strongly linked to how effective the vaccine was. This allowed wider distribution of vaccines, saving many lives,” he said.

During the pandemic the team of researchers analysed in-depth virological and immunological studies with mathematical modelling. What they found shaped global vaccination policies and accelerated vaccine distribution.

Professor Miles Davenport from the Kirby Institute said that collaboration was the key to addressing the enormous challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The response was one of great cooperation, collaboration, and innovation between research groups. Our team was fortunate that our combination of experimental and mathematical skills was able to contribute to understanding immunity and vaccine effectiveness for COVID-19,” he said.

The Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research is awarded for outstanding infectious diseases research that benefits, or has the potential to benefit, human health. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 23 August 2023.