What is ACH2 and how did it develop?

The Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Virology Research (ACH2) is one of Australia’s four national centres for HIV research, the others being the National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR), the National Centre for HIV and Social Research (NCHSR) and the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSH). As suggested by their names, these national centres represent a continuum in research from HIV virology and immunology, through to clinical and social research. ACH2 evolved out of two existing bodies, the National Centre for HIV Virology Research (NCHVR), which was established in 1996 under the directorship of Professor Ian Gust to provide advanced virology facilities to support control of the HIV epidemic in Australia in most of the capital cities and the Australian Centre for Hepatitis Virology (ACHV), an incorporated body that continues to promote research into viral hepatitis in Australia. In 2003-2004 a strategic plan revised the direction of the HIV centre in line with directions from the Population Health Division (now the Office of Health Protection), Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. Basic biomedical HIV virologic and immunologic research was funded thereafter by NHMRC project and program grants. ACH2 concentrated on funding applied and strategic research into the virology and immunology of HIV, Hepatitis B and C.

The purpose of the Centre is to deliver virological and immunological research outcomes of significance to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of HIV and HCV in Australia and in a broader regional and international context.

The continuum of health research into HIV, Hepatitis B and C can be viewed as a ‘funnel’ selecting outcomes from a huge range of basic biomedical research, both in Australia and internationally and developing this into potential health care and bio technology outcomes, which, together with social research leads to health care improvement (see Figure below). ACH2 encourages basic virology and immunology researchers in the HIV, Hepatitis B and C fields to translate their biomedical discoveries into potential health care and biotechnology outcomes and to support clinical research through the development of advanced laboratory tests and the quality control of tests underlying clinical trials. Thus ACH2 funding targets a unique niche in translational research in Australia.