GVN Center and Member Spotlight

March 31, 2022 – GVN SPOTLIGHT ON: Dr. Rubaiyea Farrukee

Dr. Rubaiyea Farrukee
Research Officer, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
University of Melbourne, Doherty Institute

Are you currently pursuing COVID-19 related research?

My research area is focused on innate immune responses to viral infections. I am currently studying intracellular host factors leading to antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. Ultimately, identification and characterization of these factors can be useful for the design of novel host targeting therapeutics. I am also interested in studying viral interference factors to evade innate immune responses. Specifically, I am interested in studying (1) how co-infections of influenza and SARS-CoV-2 can affect host immune responses, and (2) what implications may have in responding to future epidemic waves by collaboration with researchers at the World Health Organization Collaboration Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza.

Please describe your research interests and accomplishments.

My research interests lie in expanding knowledge of important human respiratory viruses. I have intensive research experience on influenza viruses and extended my research interest to other respiratory viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus, human metapneumovirus, and rhinoviruses. While the burden of respiratory virus diseases has always been apparent, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of research in this field. During my PhD and postdoctoral trainings, I have published my research findings in high impact journals in the field of virology, including PLoS Pathogens, Journal of Virology, and Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. During my PhD program, I received the Millis Jackson Research Scholarship and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Early Career Research Award. In the final year of my PhD program, I received a Doherty Seed Grant, which allowed me to finish my project comprehensively. I have also been the two times recipient of the Major Bartlett Travel Grant. These gave me the opportunity to present my work in multiple local and international conferences, and these opportunities brought me to receive awards for the Best Oral Presentation. With my keen interest in science communication, I also participated in the 3-Minute Thesis competition and Global Health Case Competition at the University of Melbourne and became a semi-finalist and Team Leader of winning team. In the first year of my postdoctoral research, I enthusiastically pursued all grant opportunities and new collaborations and was awarded the University of Melbourne, School of Medicine, Health and Dentistry Early Career Research Grant.

Profession Summary

Dr Rubaiyea Farrukee completed a Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) at Monash University, including Honours in 2013. Dr Farrukee subsequently undertook a PhD in 2016 at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, studying the fitness of antiviral resistant influenza viruses. After completion of the PhD, Dr Farrukee started working in the Reading/Brooks laboratory as a Roche Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Her project is focused on identifying novel antiviral host factors for respiratory pathogens, including human respiratory syncytial virus and SARS-COV-2.

Overview of The University of Melbourne, Doherty Institute

Finding solutions to prevent, treat and cure infectious diseases and understanding the complexities of microbes and the immune system requires innovative approaches and concentrated effort. This is why the University of Melbourne – a world leader in education, teaching and research excellence – and The Royal Melbourne Hospital – an internationally renowned institution providing outstanding care, research and learning – partnered to create the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute); a centre of excellence where leading scientists and clinicians collaborate to improve human health globally. Located in the heart of Melbourne’s Biomedical Precinct, the Doherty Institute is named in honour of Patron, Laureate Professor Peter Doherty, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering how the immune system recognizes virus-infected cells. Under the expert guidance of Director, University of Melbourne Professor Sharon Lewin, a leader in research and clinical management of HIV and infectious diseases, the Doherty Institute has more than 700 staff who work on infection and immunity through a broad spectrum of activities. This includes discovery research; diagnosis, surveillance and investigation of infectious disease outbreaks; and the development of ways to prevent, treat and eliminate infectious diseases.

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