Professor Sarah Palmer is Co-Director of the Centre for Virus Research at WIMR and a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney School of Medicine. She is a world-renowned HIV researcher who received her PhD at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden focussing on medical virology. Professor Palmer also conducted her post-doctoral studies at Stanford University, Center for AIDS Research.
For 8 years Professor Palmer directed the core virology laboratory for the HIV Drug Resistance Program at the National Institutes of Health in the USA.
For Professor Palmer, working to stop the devastation of HIV was something she felt compelled to do, very early in her career.
“I can pinpoint the exact moment I knew I wanted to cure HIV. I was visiting my parents in Kenya where they lived in the early 1990s. One morning over breakfast, while reading the local paper, I saw that so many people – including a lot of young people – were dying of pneumonia. My mother explained these people were actually dying of HIV, but it was reported as pneumonia to avoid stigma. This shocked me. I knew right then I wanted to stop HIV and the suffering it causes.”
With the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the globe, Professor Palmer is applying her expertise in identifying parts of HIV proteins likely to stimulate human white cell responses to her COVID-19 research project.
One of the key projects that Sarah is leading at WIMR is the development of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, with a specific focus on the prevention of the virus in older people. The vaccine will also seek to target and prevent different strains of the virus.
WIMR is well placed to successfully investigate the development of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in older populations, in large part due to the experience and expertise of the team working on the development of the vaccine.