Lauren Jelley

Head of Clinical Virology

Lauren began her career working in private pathology in biochemistry “I think everyone should start in biochemistry,” she says. “Biochemistry gives a great foundation of knowledge about the human body and how it reacts in different ways.”

When Lauren’s career took her to the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Australia, she started her love affair with HIV.

“HIV is such an amazing virus. I would look at the different HIV populations in the body, at the mutations that would arise because of antiviral resistance,” she says. “It’s interesting to note that even though we are in the middle of a global pandemic of SARS-CoV-2, we’ve actually had a global HIV pandemic since the 1980s.”

Lauren has been working in her role as head of the Clinical Virology department since 2019. “I was in the job less than a year when the team started our SARS-CoV-2 pandemic response. Before the pandemic, I was busy finding my feet, learning an entire new skill set of how to manage people, and then we were all thrown into new territory. It was a surreal experience, and the team was amazing.”

The projects that Lauren and her team support mean that Lauren is always on the go, making sure the laboratory is organised with enough consumables and resource.

“It’s definitely busy and a challenge, even more so now that I have just started my PhD with the University of Otago. Life is crazy, but crazy in a good way,” Lauren says. “I love learning about viruses – I can’t really get enough of them!”