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Professor Peter Doherty
, 2001

by Rick Amor

oil on canvas (frame: 92.4 cm x 77.8 cm, support: 79.8 cm x 65.5 cm)

Peter Doherty AC (b. 1940), immunologist, shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1996 for his discoveries about how the immune system recognises virus-infected cells. At the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University from 1973 to 1975, Doherty and his Nobel co-recipient Rolf Zinkernagel investigated components of the immune system known as ‘killer T-cells’, paving the way for a better understanding of organ rejection after transplants and genetic susceptibility to disease. Trained in veterinary science, Doherty has said that his success stems from ‘a non-conformist upbringing, a sense of being something of an outsider, and looking for different perceptions in everything from novels, to art, to experimental results. I like complexity, and am delighted by the unexpected.’ Since 1988 he has divided his time between the immunology departments of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Tennessee, and the University of Melbourne. He was Australian of the Year for 1997. His reflective memoir, The Beginner’s Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize, was published in 2005 and his Light History of Hot Air in 2007. The Peter Doherty Institute, an infectious-diseases research centre in central Melbourne, opened in September 2014.

Rick Amor, a distinguished Melbourne painter, evoked Doherty’s intensity and curiosity by placing his figure very close to the picture plane.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Commissioned with funds provided by Marilyn Darling AC 2002
Accession number: 2002.4

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