Dr Lien Anh Ha Do is a Senior Research Officer in the New Vaccines Group. 

Tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a researcher?

My interest in research started during my final year of medical training when I was preparing my final year thesis on diabetes which was a newly emerging medical issue in Vietnam at that time. With this thesis, I won a scholarship to pursue the Masters of Immunology and Microbiology in France. This was where I had my first molecular laboratory experience, and experiments with viruses became my fascination. 

My research journey in the virology field then started though research projects on HIV with the Pasteur Institute network and then through my PhD on respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other respiratory viruses in children with Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Vietnam.

What research are you undertaking here at the MCRI?

RSV is the leading cause of severe respiratory infections in young children worldwide. There is currently no RSV vaccine available. 

My research focus is to understand how the virus causes disease and what the molecular characteristics of RSV are. I try to understand how these "markers" impact on clinical outcomes and how this information can be translated into clinical management and prevention of RSV, particularly in low-middle income countries settings. I have found surprising links between RSV disease and measles, so I am interested in using available measles vaccines as an alternative approach to prevent RSV.  

With Professor Kim Mulholland's guidance, and working together with Dr Danielle Wurzel and Associate Professor Paul Licciardi since 2016, we have built a number of projects targeting clinical, immunological and virological aspects of RSV disease in Australia, Vietnam and Mongolia.

Since March I have also supported the MCRI team in trying to understand the transmission and pathogenesis of COVID-19 in children and what makes children less affected than adults.

What are you hoping to make possible for children & families through the work that you're doing?

I hope our RSV research can help doctors to predict who is at the risk of developing severe RSV infection, in order to deliver appropriate management and prevention for each child. Our data would be critical to the prevention and treatment of RSV disease.

Also MCRI is in a unique position worldwide, by providing data on COVID-19 pathogenesis in children. These data could help to solve the COVID-19 puzzle.     
What excites you most about working in the field of child health?

I'm impressed with the rapidly growing state-of-the-art technologies improving our understanding of these little tiny creatures and viruses and interested in seeing how our data can contribute to improving child health in Australia and globally.   
Tell us a little bit about yourself outside of MCRI?

Walking in the parks or visiting open markets are my favourites things to do. You may catch me wandering around at the Camberwell Sunday market after lockdown.