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David Harrich

Associate Professor | Group Leader | Senior Research Fellow

HIV & Molecular Virology

+617 3845 3679




Associate Professor David Harrich studied Experimental Pathology at the University of California where he obtained a PhD in 1994 regarding HIV-1/AIDS research. Prior to that, he worked for United Energy Corporation (Redwood City, California) on a project to create a sustainable integrated energy farm.

Associate Professor Harrich was recruited by International Genetic Engineering Inc. (Santa Monica, California) to work on a project that developed an in vitro xanthan gum synthesis system. The xanthan was used to improve crude oil extraction from deep wells. In 1989 he began HIV-1, HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 investigations at the University of California in Los Angeles. These highly cited early studies focused on identification of viral and cellular proteins required for transcription of viral mRNA. His post-doctoral training at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 1995 focused on the role of the viral Tat protein in HIV-1 reverse transcription.

In 1997, he relocated to Brisbane, Australia to become Unit Head of AIDS Research at the Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre. As a Senior Research Fellow for the National Centre for HIV Virology Research, his lab discovered how the HIV Tat protein regulated viral DNA synthesis, discovered inhibitors of virus replication and laid the ground work and developed methods required to identify cellular proteins that regulated early steps in HIV-1 replication. He was recruited by QIMR Berghofer MRI in 2002 and was appointed Lab Head of HIV and Molecular Virology laboratory, and subsequently promoted to Group Leader in 2009.

His research discovered a potent antiviral protein called Nullbasic that was awarded a USA patent. Another focus of his research discovered a key cellular protein that regulates the HIV-1 reverse transcription. This world leading research showed that the eukaryotic translation elongation factor 1 alpha (eEF1A) directly bound to HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT). Importantly, small molecules that blocked eEF1A interaction with RT represented a new class of anti-HIV-1 inhibitor. In 2017, his research into dengue virus led to the development of a novel in vitro production system making dengue defective interfering particles (DIPs). This successful project demonstrated potent inhibition of all dengue virus serotypes using DIP technology. The DIP production system was issued a provisional patent and recently attracted an Innovator Award from the Wellcome Trust. The DIP platform technology is applicable to other RNA viruses such and Zika and SARS-Co-V2.




  • Group Leader, HIV and Molecular Virology, QIMR Berghofer
  • Senior Research Fellow, QIMR Berghofer
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland




  • Lab Head, HIV and Molecular Virology laboratory, QIMR
  • Adjunct Senior Lecturer, University of Queensland


  • Unit Head, Aids Research, Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre









  • Dengue virus research: this project will develop an innovative therapeutic agent to treat dengue infection
  • SARS-CoV-2 research: this project aims to develop a novel anti-SARS-CoV-2 agent that can parasitise SARS-CoV-2 virus to reduce its replication, transmission and pathogenicity, this potential antiviral agent is called viral defective interfering RNA that are derived from the virus itself
  • HIV-1 research: development of a new class of HIV-1 antiretroviral drug, this project investigates a new class of anti-HIV compounds that blocks an essential host cell protein that is essential for virus replication
  • HIV-1 Research: central nervous system (CNS) targeted antiretroviral therapy (ART), this project will adapt an advanced nanoparticle platform to effectively deliver antiretroviral drugs to the CNS by crossing over the BBB in order to improve inhibition of HIV replication in the CNS
  • HIV-1 Research: development of a vaginally administered anti-HIV microbicide nanosystem, this project investigates a novel vaginal nanocarrier system to deliver the HIV reverse transcriptase inhibitors as microbicides



  • a new class of HIV-1 inhibitor that works against drug-resistant HIV
  • DIPs can inhibit replication of all dengue virus serotypes
  • a mutant HIV-1 protein inhibits HIV-1 replication in vivo



  • Australian Society for Microbiology
  • American Society for Microbiology
  • Australasian Society for Virology
  • Australian Society for Medical Research
  • Editorial Board memberships: Retrovirology, Current HIV Research, PLoS ONE, Future Virology and The Open Microbiology Journal, The Open Virology Journal



  • Australian Research Council Future, Fellow
  • National Centre of HIV Virology Research, Fellow
  • National Institute of Health USA, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow



1994: PhD, Experimental Pathology, University of California

BA, Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California