Immunology and Pathology news and events
The CCSMonash youtube channel features Department staff and students.
See and pin Immunology photos and videos at www.pinterest.com/CCSMonash/immunology-ccs-monash/.
Immunology Facebook page www.facebook.com/DepartmentOfImmunologyMonashUniversity.
CCS produces a weekly news blog, to which all Department news is published. See ccsmonash.blogspot.com.au/.
24 Nov Immunology/Burnet symposium: Dendritic cells, interferon and vaccines
The Monash University Department of Immunology and Burnet Institute are hosting a symposium featuring two international guest speakers, Dr Virgina Pascual and Dr Jacques Bechereau. All welcome. See detail of the afternoon's timetable and speakers, and RSVP link. Registration is free. Posted 31/10/2014.
Congratulations to Dr Will Figgett, freshly graduated
Will Figgett has recently completed his PhD under the supervision of Prof Fabienne Mackay. Both attended the graduation ceremony on 4 November at University of New South Wales where Will was enrolled during his candidature. Fabienne is an Adjunct Professor at UNSW. Will's most recent publication is "The TACI Receptor Regulates T-Cell-Independent Marginal Zone B Cell Responses through Innate Activation-Induced Cell Death". Posted 05/11/2013.
AICR grant for studying the causes of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
Professor Fabienne Mackay’s laboratory has received a generous £200,000 grant from the prestigious Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) to study the causes of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and potential new therapeutic strategies. CLL is the most common adult leukaemia in the developed world and still has no cure. Affected patients have severely compromised immunity, leaving them vulnerable to recurrent infections, which are a major cause of death. The underlying cause of CLL remains elusive, limiting current treatment options. See more. Posted 26/10/2013.
Immunology symposium celebrates 50 years and looks forward to 50 more
The Department of Immunology celebrated its 50th anniversary with an entertaining and informative symposium, held in the AMREP Education Centre, Alfred Hospital on 4 October 2013. The event was attended by 180 friends, colleagues, alumni and immunologists from far and wide. Pictured, Prof Ban Hock Toh (right) with colleagues during his time as Head of Department. See more photos at Symposium photo gallery. Posted 18/10/2013.
Body's 'safety procedure' could explain autoimmune disease
Immunology researchers have found an important safety mechanism in the immune system that may malfunction in people with autoimmune diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis, potentially paving the way for innovative treatments. Published in Immunity, 6 Sept 2013, the research, led by Head of the Monash Department of Immunology Professor Fabienne Mackay, describes for the first time how the body manages marginal zone (MZ) B cells, which form a general first line of attack against germs, but are potentially harmful. See
- Monash story;
- Journal reference;
- Animation prepared by first author Dr Will Figgett;
- Fabienne Mackay Video explaining the significance of the research;
- BAFF lab.
Gene therapy research into prevention of MS myelin damage
PhD student Jie-yu Chung, Department of Immunology, is researching the use of gene therapy to stop MS myelin damage. Jie-Yu won a Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia (MRSA) scholarship a year ago. Working with A/Prof Frank Alderuccio, Jie-yu has successfully introduced genes into immune system B and T stem cells to ensure that they recognise myelin as ’self’, and therefore do not attack it. The next stage is to identify the particular subset of cells which attack myelin. See more at www.msra.org.au/hijacking-immune-system-treat-ms. Posted 09/06/2013.
Slowing down SLE kidney disease
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), more simply known as lupus, is an autoimmune disease where the body makes antibodies against its own DNA. It may involve a variety of genes, follow a variety of genetic pathways, and damage a variety of cell types. In many cases, the consequence is impairment of kidney function, which is known as glomerulonephritis. Such a ‘moving target’ is difficult to pinpoint, track and ultimately treat, as one treatment may work for one particular genetic group, but not another. The Leukocyte Signalling Laboratory headed by A/Prof Margaret Hibbs, has identified a cellular pathway whereby once production of one particular signalling molecule called p110d PI3K is slowed down, the disease processes also slowed down. See journal article. Posted 27/05/2013.
Welcome to Dr Rose Ffrench
We would like to offer a warm welcome to Rose Ffrench who has commenced with the Immunology department. Rose is joining us from The Burnet Institute, and comes with an excellent track record as a higher degree educator in immunology, as well as an international reputation in human immune responses for viral infections. Rose joins our teaching team, and is looking forward to getting to know the team members soon. From 6 May Rose can be found in Room 2u42. Posted 06/05/2013.
Prize for ASI presentation on lung macrophages
Erika Duan is a PhD student in the Leukocyte Signalling Laboratory, headed by Associate Professor Margaret Hibbs, studying alveolar lung macrophages. Erika won a prize at the Australasian Society of Immunology (ASI) annual conference in December 2012 for her presentation on how lung macrophages vary with infection and inflammation and the challenges of translating the mouse model data to understanding the human context. Her work is featured in the most recent issue of the ASI newsletter, see extract. Erika works with respiratory physicians at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Posted 06/05/2013.
Public symposium: Fostering Swiss-Australian scientific collaboration
Nobel Prize winners Professors Rolf Zinkernagel and Peter Doherty speaking at a public symposium on 2 May hosted by the Swiss Australian Academic Network, respectively on "Vaccines against infections" and "Science in the public space: distinguishing truth from falsehood". RSVP essential, to firstname.lastname@example.org, by 24 April. SAAN's current Secretary is Professor Rob Medcalf, ACBD, who will make the closing remarks for the evening. See attachments for biographical detail and the evening's program. Posted 23/04/2013.
Immunology outstanding for mentoring postgraduate students
The Department of Immunology was identified in 2012 as an outstanding unit for postgraduate mentoring and supervision. The Department was ranked second in the entire University in the Postgraduate Research Student survey, and in the top ten for the 2011 Postgraduate Research Supervision Survey. The culture in the Department of Immunology is one of great commitment to its students, to encourage them to present and publish and provide them with support and advice during the research. Pictured: PhD students in Prof Magdalena Plebanski’s lab. Posted 28/02/2013.
Plasma cell survival research
Research on plasma cell survival by Associate Professor Mark Wright, Department of Immunology, and colleagues, published in Science Signalling, was highlighted in a recent Nature Immunology research review. Mark’s research is on the role of an protein called CD37 in the tetraspanin family of proteins. CD37 is formed on the surface of B cells and together with many other tetraspanins, it organises traffic through the cell membrane. The CD37 protein interacts with, and organises various other important proteins to behave as required for the cell’s health, survival and productivity. See review article, www.nature.com/ni/journal/v14/n1/full/ni.2505.html. See original article. See more about Mark's research at Leucocyte Membrane Protein Laboratory. Posted 21/01/2013.
Dec 5 Public Lecture on Allergy & Anaphylaxis
Professor Robyn O'Hehir gave a public lecture on Allergy & Anaphylaxis, on December 5 at the Alfred Lecture Theatre, MC'd by Tony Charlton. It was highly successful, attended by a capacity audience. See details on the web page, or download flier. All welcome. For more details about Robyn's research, see Allergy lab. Posted 22/11/12
A/Prof Mark Wright wins Monash's Near Miss $100,000 grant
Mark and his team from the Department of Immunology have been awarded the near-miss funding opportunity for this year of $100,000 for 2013 to support their NHMRC Project Grant application entitled “Homing in on the function of the tetraspanin CD53.” In brief, their project investigates one type of lymphocyte, a white blood cell type which helps fight infection. Each individual lymphocyte is unique and recognises and responds to only one type of pathogen.To ensure that the appropriate lymphocyte is in the right part of the body to fight infection, lymphocytes patrol throughout the body's lymph nodes via the bloodstream. Mark's project studies CD53, a protein that controls lymphocyte patrols. See detail of research at Leucocyte Membrane Protein Laboratory. Image: CD53 tetraspanin. Posted 19/11/2012.
Jie Yu Chung wins best poster presentation at CCS PG symposium
Mr Jie Yu Chung, a PhD student in A/Prof Frank Alderuccio's Autoimmunity and Gene Therapy Laboratory, won the prize for the most outstanding poster presentation at the 5 October CCS postgraduate symposium. Jie Yu's topic is "Mechanisms of tolerance induction following ectopic autoantigen expression", which roughly translates as genetically modifying bone marrow stem cells for transplantation so the body doesn't reject them, i.e. tolerates them. For detail see booklet. Posted 09/08/12
Sara Prickett wins travel grant and presentation prize
Dr Sara Prickett, a senior research fellow in the Allergy Labs, won the Central Clinical School Travel Grant 2012 and a Monash University Gender Equity Award to support presentation of her research towards a peanut allergy vaccine at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, in June, 2012. Her oral presentation (CD4+ T-cell epitope peptides with MHC-restriction diversity: candidates for a peanut allergy therapeutic) won the best presentation prize in a session on "Immunotherapies: Immunological Mechanisms". Posted 09/08/12
BDM-E eye disease drug has positive results
The Australian research into BDM-E presented in Berlin was conducted under retinal disease specialist Professor Jennifer Wilkinson-Berka, Department of Immunology, and Associate Professor Erica Fletcher from The University of Melbourne. The eye research results presented at the ISER Conference confirm the potential of BDM-E,to reduce damage typical to retinitis pigmentosa and improve retinal function. For story detail see News Medical. Posted 22/7/12
Professor Fabienne Mackay awarded prestigious Thomson Reuters Australia Citation Award
Head of Monash University’s Department of Immunology, Professor Fabienne Mackay, was one of 12 Australian researchers honoured with a prestigious Thomson Reuters Australia Citation Award in recognition of research excellence, on May 30. See Prof Mackay's citation metrics . Prof Mackay played a crucial role in the world’s first major lupus treatment breakthrough last year, a discovery that led directly to the development of a new preventive medication, Belumimab. This improved clinical outcome further validated a decade of Professor Mackay’s work on autoimmunity. Story link. Story posted 30/05/2012
A solution to a life-threatening allergy
For around one in 100 Australians who have food allergy, simply ingesting a small amount of pasta containing shellfish can be life-threatening. Department of AIRMed, CCS and Department of Immunology researchers led by Prof Robyn O'Hehir and Emeritus Prof Jennifer Rolland have taken a step towards identifying major allergens in Australian shellfish embarking on new research in collaboration with James Cook University, Queensland. Reference Monash news story Posted 11/5/12
ASI Education Special Interest Group now happening
Dr Kim Murphy has taken the initiative to revive the ASI Education Special Interest Group (SIG). Themes are:
- introducing research to students
- how to run effective, practical classes for large groups of students
- developing shared resources etc.
NHMRC Program Grant Retreat, Kioloa: 3-5 April 2012
In early April, BAFF Lab members, Damien Saulep-Easton and Dr Martina Fuchsberger (pictured, left) attended the NHMRC Program Grant retreat in Kioloa, presenting the latest in BAFF lab research including developments in nanoparticle technology for studying B cell development, new concepts in leukaemic B cell disease progression and the role of BAFF in pDC development and function. The retreat was attended by prominent NHMRC Fellows and senior investigators and provided an excellent forum for vigorous discussion and critique leading to novel directions for research conducted by the BAFF Lab team. Story posted 29/05/2012
New directions in Leukaemia Research Conference
In March 2012, Damien Saulep-Easton was sent as a delegate of BAFF Laboratory to the New Developments in Leukaemia Research (NDLR) conference on scientists and clinicians at all stages of their careers to discuss and debate current and emerging concepts in leukaemia with a focus on translational outcomes for the clinic. Story posted 29/05/2012
26 April International Day of Immunology public lecture
International Day of Immunology is being celebrated in Melbourne with a public lecture on 26 April. Prof Sharon Lewin, Head of Infectious Diseases, Central Clinical School; Dr Glen Westall (researcher/lung transplant clinician, Alfred and CCS, AIRMed); Prof Jim McCluskey, DVC (Research), University of Melbourne speaking at the DOI public lecture, "Immunology research: your life depends on it!" Thursday 26 April 2012, 5.30-7.15 pm followed by refreshments, at the Melbourne Brain Centre. All welcome, RSVP by 23/4/12. Enquiries & RSVP: DOI Public Lecture. Download flier. Story posted 22/03/2012
2012 Day of Immunology Primary school competition opens
The 2012 Day of Immunology primary school competition has opened. It is coordinated by Monash and Burnet researchers. This year's theme is "Beating the Bugs". Enquiries: Dr Charles Hardy, Department of Immunology, email email@example.com ph +61 3 99030742. See web page, or download flier (780 kb pdf). Story posted 22/03/2012
21 March seminar: Professor Xavier Mariette
Professor Xavier Mariette, Head of Rheumatology Bicêtre Hospital, Paris-Sud University, Paris, France, will be speaking on: "Why is there an increased risk of lymphoma in autoimmune diseases?", Lecture Theatre 1, Level 5, Alfred Centre, 4-5 pm, Wednesday 21 March 2012. Light refreshments provided. All welcome, no RSVP required. Enquiries: Dr Fabien Vincent email firstname.lastname@example.org ph +61 3 99030533. Download flier. Story posted 08/03/2012
Jodie Abramovitch wins Faculty Postgraduate Excellence award
Ms Jodie Abramovitch, an Honours student in the Department of Immunology during 2011, has been awarded a Faculty Postgraduate Excellence Award, effective from 2012. These awards are offered by the Faculty to the top 10 scholarship awardees who have demonstrated outstanding academic merit and research potential in their Honours year. This award is $5,000 per annum, paid as a 'top-up' to an Australian Postgraduate Award. Jodie's thesis title was 'Investigation of clinically significant cross-reactivity between allergens of Australasian crab and prawn species', supervised by Professors Jennifer Rolland and Robyn O'Hehir (Monash Departments of Immunology and AIRMed) and Dr Andreas Lopata (James Cook University). Story posted 15/12/2011
Monash Immunology postgrads score ASI hat-trick
Four PhD students in the Department of Immunology won awards in three different categories at the 11-15 Dec 2011 Australasian Society for Immunology International Conference, held in Adelaide. William Figgett, Zeyad Nasa and Maverick Lau won poster encouragement awards. Zeyad also won the Australian Biosearch travel award. Jie Chung won an ASI travel bursary award.
Inflammasomes in health, disease and homeostasis
Dr Richard Flavell will present on Dec 15, 2011 on "Inflammasomes in health, disease and homeostasis" at 1-2 pm, venue: Level 3, Seminar Room, Building 75, Clayton campus. Dr Flavell is Sterling Professor of Immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. See flier for seminar detail. See further information on Dr Flavell's research at Richard Flavell biography.
How the first lupus medication in fifty years went from bench to bedside
Prof Fabienne Mackay presented at the Nov 23-24 Australian Academy of Science's Australia-France Biomedical Research Symposium on the science, the painstaking persistence and the creativity of many researchers in the convoluted journey of a newly released therapeutic for lupus. Belimumab, or 'Benlysta', was approved by the US's FDA in March of this year, and in July by the European equivalent. It is under consideration by Australia's TGA at present. See an abstract of Prof Mackay's presentation on p. 27 of the AAS Symposium program. For further detail on her research see Mackay's Lab page at B Lymphocytes, BAFF and Autoimmunity Laboratory. Image©Global Pharma Sector News
ARC grant successes for Dept of Immunology
Prof Charles Mackay (pictured left) and Prof Robyn O'Hehir were awarded ARC funding, starting from 2012. Professor Mackay was awarded $345,000 for his project "Mechanisms connecting diet, metabolism, gut microbiota and immunity" which is administered through SOBS. For further detail on his research see Mackay's Lab at Immunology, Inflammation and Therapeutic Antibodies Laboratory.
Prof O'Hehir (AIRMED/Immunology) is CIB on the project "Designing new generation adjuvants for allergy and parasite vaccines", receiving $315,000. The project is administered through Physiology. See detail of Prof O'Hehir's research at Allergy Laboratory.
NHMRC grant successes for Dept of Immunology
A/Prof Mark Wright (pictured, left), Prof Robyn O'Hehir and Prof Fabienne Mackay were awarded NH&MRC funding starting from 2012. A/Prof Wright is CIA on the project, "CD37, CD82 and immune cell migration", receiving $358,510. Prof O'Hehir (AIRMED/Immunology) is CIA on the project "Impaired respiratory tolerance In obesity - the link with asthma?", receiving $644,685. Other CIs on Prof O'Hehir's project are Prof Jenny Rolland & Dr Charles Hardy, in collaboration with Clinton Bruce at the Baker IDI. Prof Mackay was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship level B worth $641,855. For further detail on their research see Wright's Lab at Leucocyte Membrane Protein Laboratory, O'Hehir's lab at Allergy Laboratory and Mackay's Lab at B Lymphocytes, BAFF and Autoimmunity Laboratory.
Day of Immunology Primary School competition winners
Dr Charles Hardy, Dr Meredith O'Keeffe (Burnet Institute) and Dr Julianne Bayliss (Dept Medicine) coordinated the inaugural Day of Immunology primary school competition, themed "The Body at War". The strong response for a first time competition being offered to an increasingly crowded primary school curriculum was testimony to both the imagination of the coordinators to offer an appealing competition, and primary school teachers' enthusiasm for the subject. Pictured, left, is Wembley 4B class in their role play costumes. Link to DOI competition outcomes and see the winning entry by Wembley Primary School at Wembley Fairy Tale Kingdom
Immunology researchers on Radio National's The Health Report
Professor Charles Mackay and Associate Professor Robyn Slattery (pictured, left) were featured on Radio National's Health Report. Interviews can be downloaded for each researcher: "Celebrating a scientific breakthrough", broadcast 19 September 2011 and We are what we eat - how our diet affects the microbes in our bowels broadcast 26 September 2011.
Professor Jacques Miller honoured by CCS
Professor Jacques Miller discovered the role of the thymus 50 years ago. One of his former PhD students, Associate Professor Robyn Slattery in the Department of Immunology, is continuing to collaborate with him on a research project investigating the removal of the MHC class I traffic signal from certain cell types in order to circumvent the trigger for killer T cells becoming activated and licensed to destroy the body’s own insulin-producing beta cells. Robyn has coordinated an event held by the School to honour Professor Miller’s achievements and raise funds for Immunology research and also raise the profile of Immunology research. The artist, Jill Steenhuis, who donated her portrait of Professor Miller for the event, visited from France for the exhibition. For details see www.med.monash.edu/cecs/jaq-miller/.
Research contributes to first lupus therapy in fifty years
The research of Professor Fabienne Mackay, Head of Department of Immunology, has played a crucial role in the development of the first major lupus treatment breaktbrough for over 50 years. Professor Mackay was the first to show that the overproduction of something known as BAFF - B cell Activating Factor drives the most common form of lupus, affecting 70% of sufferers. See details at www.monash.edu.au/news/show/monash-research-leads-to-first-lupus-breaktbrough-in-50-year.
Research speeds path to peanut allergy vaccine
The research of Professor Robyn O'Hehir, Head of Department of Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, and Professor Jennifer Rolland, Department of Immunology, has identified the key components for a safe and effective vaccine to treat peanut allergy. The Monash/Alfred Allergy Research Team identified the critical sequences or peptides of peanut protein that interact with white blood cells (T cells) and build immunological tolerance, but not bind allergy antibody (IgE) and cause anaphylaxis. See details at http://www.monash.edu.au/news/releases/show/1590.