48th Annual Scientific Meeting of The Australasian Society for Immunology8 – 12 December 2019
Adelaide Convention Centre
Dr Iain Comerford (Co-Convenor)
Iain completed a B.Sc.(Hons) in Immunology at the University of Glasgow in 2001 and a Ph.D. in chemokine biology with Professor Robert Nibbs at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research and the University of Glasgow between 2002-2005. In 2005 he joined the Chemokine Biology Laboratory at the University of Adelaide with Professor Shaun McColl, focussing on the role of chemokine receptors in T cell responses in autoimmunity and regulation of the chemokine system by atypical chemokine receptors. Since then he has been the recipient of fellowships and project grant funding from Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia and is a research fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide and a lecturer in immunology. He served as state councillor for the SA/NT branch of ASI from 2016-2018.
Dr Damon Tumes (Co-Convenor)
Damon received his Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Adelaide in 2009. He subsequently did a post-doc at Chiba University Medical School, Japan. During his Ph.D. and post-doc, he worked on lymphocyte differentiation and immunological memory in the context of chronic allergic inflammation. Damon returned to Adelaide in 2015 and joined the new EMBL Australia Systems Immunology group at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), headed by David Lynn. Damon is now a lab head at the University of South Australia and SA Pathology Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB) in Adelaide. At the CCB, he is continuing to study airway inflammation, and also applying his experience working on lymphocyte differentiation and function to cancer immunology. Damon is supported by the Hospital Research Foundation and is the current ASI SA/NT Branch Councillor.
Dr. Mohammed Alsharifi
Dr Mohammed Alsharifi is a Senior Lecturer and the head of Vaccine Research Group at the School of Biological Sciences, The University of Adelaide. Dr Alsharifi has a Ph.D in viral immunology from the Australian National University (ANU) and over 15 years of experience in vaccine immunology. His early research uncovered different aspects of innate and adaptive immune responses to acute virus infections including important findings related to the underlying mechanisms for the enhanced susceptibility to secondary infections following primary viral infections. His interest in infectious diseases and his early training in Veterinary Medicine led him to establish a research team with a clear focus on vaccine development. He is a named inventor on many patents related to the development of a cross-protective gamma-irradiated influenza A virus vaccine and the development of a serotype-independent pneumococcal vaccine. In addition to his academic role, he is the Chief Scientific Officer of Gamma Vaccines Pty Ltd and a Director of GPN Vaccines Pty Ltd.
Prof Barry was trained in the UK at Kings College, London (B.Sc. Hons) and the National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill (Ph.D.). After postdoctoral training in Australia and the USA, and a period in Biotech in the USA, he now leads a collaborative research program which has both a basic science and a translational component. This enables gene discovery and functional validation in vitro and then using human clinical material to determine whether there is a causal link with disease.
Prof Barry has had a long standing interest in transcriptional regulation and how gene networks collaborate to shape a phenotype. He has applied this to the field of molecular immunology, and to the transcription factor FOXP3 in particular. FOXP3 is essential for the formation and function of regulatory T cells (Tregs), and without Treg, a fatal aggressive autoimmune disease occurs (known as IPEX in man, and SCURFY in mouse). Treg are the policemen of the immune system and are responsible for maintaining tolerance to health, and for maintaining immune homeostasis. The lack of Treg or Treg function is now accepted as part of the cause of many autoimmune diseases, including Type 1diabetes, IBD, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, and hence Treg play a significant part in maintaining health. Prof Barry been able to use genome wide approaches to discover the key targets of FOXP3 in human Treg, and to validate their biological importance in vitro and in vivo. Prof Barry’s group was the first in the world to achieve this for human FOXP3 and he discovered a key target of FOXP3, SATB1 which is regulated to maintain Treg function. Prof Barry is now using 3D genomics approaches to map the genetic risk of autoimmune disease to the regulatory elements in T cells that it affects in order to functionally define the defects in immune function caused by genetic risk, and has applied that to an IBD risk region in man. Prof Barry aspires to define new targets for intervention to restore immune homeostasis and reverse the immune destruction which underpins IBD and Type 1 Diabetes. In addition, he leads a cancer immunotherapies program developing a novel pan cancer CAR-T cell therapy, and this has now spun out into a start-up; Carina Biotech.
Stephen studied Immunology and Biochemisty at the University of Adelaide, graduating with first class honours in 2004. He continued his study in Adelaide, undertaking a PhD at the University of Adelaide and Hanson Institute. During this period he evaluated how tyrosine kinase inhibitors, an emerging therapy for chronic myeloid leukemia also can dampen host immune responses. In 2009 he moved to Brisbane to take up a University of Queensland Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Diamantina Institute. Here he worked to develop novel cancer therapies to enhance host immune responses against cancer cells. These included dual functional siRNA that could both inhibit oncogene expression in cancer cells and activate host immune responses through TLR7 signalling. He also evaluated the role of the T-cell checkpoint PD-1 in mediating T-cell tolerance and how blockade can enhance adoptive immunotherapy in tumor bearing mice. This interest in immunotherapy was continued as he moved to the QIMR-Berghofer institute in Brisbane. During this period his worked helped identify new members of the nectin interacting receptors as potential targets to enhance natural killer cell control of metastases. He was also involved in developing a pre-clinical model to test for toxicity and anti-tumor efficacy of novel immunotherapies before they are used in patients. Stephen moved back to Adelaide in 2016 to join David Lynn’s group at SAHMRI to investigate the how microbiome dysregulation can alter immune responses.
Prof Claudine Bonder
Prof Claudine Bonder is Head of the Vascular Biology and Cell Trafficking Laboratory at the Centre for Cancer Biology in Adelaide, South Australia. Her research interests focus on understanding the blood vasculature during normal and disease states; particularly melanoma, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Her research has culminated in important advances in this area, including (i) identifying key adhesion molecules used by leukocyte subsets and endothelial progenitor cells to traffic to various organs, (ii) defining novel mediators of angiogenesis and vasculogenic mimicry and (iii) developing novel biomaterials to alleviate vascular dysfunction.
Prof Bonder currently leads a team of 10 grant funded staff/students across a broad program with established academic and commercial collaborators across Australia as well as institutions in the USA, Israel and Europe. Since becoming an independent researcher in 2008, she has been consistently grant funded as CIA from the NHMRC, Heart Foundation, Cancer Australia and CRCs (Biomarker Translation & Cell Therapy Manufacturing). Under her leadership, she has filed 6 patents and partnered with multi-national companies.
In recognition of her achievements Prof Bonder has received distinguished accolades from her peers including an Early Career Research Award from the Australian Academy of Science (2005), a Young Tall Poppy award (2009), an ASMR Leading Light finalist (2013) and she was the Women in Innovation SA – Emerging Innovator for 2016.
Elena Cavallaro received a Bachelor of Medical Science and BSc (Honours) from Flinders University. Her Honours thesis investigated the profile of the neutrophilic response and its effects on clinical outcomes in infant bronchiolitis. Elena is currently undertaking a PhD in the Department of Critical Care Medicine at Flinders University. Under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Dani-Louise Dixon, she is exploring the efficacy and mechanisms of a novel tripeptide in reducing the acute and chronic consequences of the exaggerated innate immune response in various models of acute lung injury. Elena is concurrently completing a Doctor of Medicine at Flinders University.
Dr Lisa Ebert
Dr Lisa Ebert has spent over 15 years researching the immune system, cancer, and interactions between the two. She completed her PhD in 2002 at the University of Adelaide, where her studies were focussed on understanding the migratory behaviour of T cells. She then undertook post-doc positions at the University of Bern in Switzerland (2002 – 2005) and at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Melbourne (2005 – 2010). During this time, she developed a focus on understanding how the immune system interacts with cancer, and using this knowledge to develop and improve cancer immunotherapies. In 2011, she returned to Adelaide as Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Cancer Biology – a unique alliance between SA Health and the University of South Australia. Her current research is focussed on developing CAR-T cell therapy for brain tumours, and identifying key factors which determine the success of checkpoint blockade immunotherapies in melanoma.
Professor Antonio Ferrante
Professor Antonio Ferrante is the inaugural and present Director of Paediatric Immunopathology services in SA Pathology at Women’s and Children’s Hospital, South Australia. He gained his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Adelaide and Immunopathology Fellowship by the Royal College of Pathologists of the UK. His interest has been in the mechanisms of the inflammatory response, particularly in the intracellular signalling pathways induced by inflammatory mediators in infection and immunity and inflammation, stimulated through his postdoctoral stints with Prof Anthony C Allison at the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases, Kenya and with Prof Jean-Michel Dayer at the University of Geneva. His research has been supported by the Word Bank/UNDP/WHO for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases. This has led to the development and patenting of new protein and lipid biologic therapeutics. More recently, in his capacity, as Head of the Development and Genetic Immunology research group in the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute, his team has been working on a new concept on the regulation of T cell development in the newborn by protein kinase c in decreasing the risk of developing inflammatory diseases such as allergy during childhood.
Dr Tessa Gargett
Tessa completed a PhD in Medicine at Adelaide University in 2013. In 2013 she joined the Translational Oncology research team (Centre for Cancer Biology, UniSA and SA Pathology) as the lead researcher for a phase I clinical trial of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells in advanced melanoma patients. Since then she has managed the CAR T cell manufacturing, testing, administration and follow up for 6 patients at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, while performing basic research into CAR T cell biology and combination therapy approaches. In 2017, in addition to her clinical research role, she was appointed to the Gene Technology Technical Advisory Committee to provide advice to the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, Canberra.
Dr. Patrick Hughes (PhD)
I am a basic scientist (PhD 2008) interested in understanding how the nervous and immune systems are involved in diseases of the lower gastrointestinal tract, primarily Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I am currently supported by a NHMRC R.D. Wright Biomedical Fellowship and have previously been awarded a NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellowship. I have built a successful laboratory ‘Gastrointestinal Neuro-immune Interactions’ as part of the Centre for Nutrition and Gastrointestinal Diseases, University of Adelaide, which is based in the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.
My group aims to understand the mechanisms underlying symptoms that occur during acute inflammation, and also symptoms that remain after inflammation has subsided. Research in my group has a strong translational approach, investigating mechanisms in animal models of disease and in human tissue through to development of novel technologies for imaging inflammation and involvement in clinical trials. This research has been supported by NHMRC, philanthropic organisations and industry.
Nikki Lansdown graduated from the University of Adelaide in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science), and a double major in Biochemistry, and Microbiology and Immunology. She achieved First Class Honours the following year, in the field of Immunology. She is currently studying for her PhD in the Developmental and Genetic Immunology Group, Department of Immunology, SA Pathology and School of Biological Science, University of Adelaide. Her PhD studies aim to examine the role of Complement Receptor Immunoglobulin (CRIg) expressing macrophages in wound healing, in both the clinical setting and experimental mouse models.
James McEvoy received his BMedSc from Flinders University majoring in biochemistry, genetics and microbiology. He then pursued a B.S (hons) from Flinders with his thesis looking at vasculogenesis and vasculogenic mimicry of malignant mesothelioma under Prof. Sonja Klebe. In 2016, He began his Cotutelle PhD under Assoc. Prof. Dani-Louise Dixon at Flinders University and Assoc. Prof. Joanna Wilson at McMaster University. James’ PhD is looking to see if in utero exposures to low dose ionising radiation, typically at the diagnostic imagining range, changes the development of the respiratory system and their ability to fight off pulmonary infection. James is pleased to be a part of the ASI 2019 LOC as a student member and looks forward to the engaging and colaborative sharing of science and immunology in Adelaide.
Dr Susan Pizzutto
Dr Susan Pizzutto is a research fellow with Child Health Division at Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin. She has a specific interest in Indigenous child health, with an emphasis on infectious disease. She was awarded her PhD in 2015 for her studies of chronic suppurative lung disease in Northern Territory children and now drives a clinically-orientated immunology research programme aimed at improving health outcomes for Indigenous children. Susan is a chief investigator on two NHMRC-funded clinical trials to address infant respiratory health through maternal and infant vitamin D supplementation, and maternal vaccination with the 10-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. She has a strong interest in the role of maternal health on health outcomes in the infant, and leads a study on immune function in infants born to mothers with type 2 diabetes in pregnancy.
Dr Alex Quach
Dr Alex Quach graduated with a Bachelor of Laboratory Medicine with First Class Honours and a Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Science from the University of South Australia in 2012, with his thesis focused on the molecular diagnosis of common variable immunodeficiency. Within the Department of Immunopathology, SA Pathology at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, he was employed as a postdoctoral scientist, and has since become a Medical Scientist, with a continued interest in the functional and genetic investigation of primary immunodeficiency diseases.
Dr Isaac Sakala
Dr Isaac G. Sakala is an immunologist at Vaxine PL, a biotechnology company founded in 2002 and based at Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, Adelaide SA 5042. The company focuses on the development and commercialization of vaccines and vaccine adjuvants tailored to specific health problems. Dr Sakala also holds an academic status position with Flinders University College of Medicine. Dr Sakala is a graduate of the Australian National University, where he earned his PhD degree in immunology, and in recognition of his research was awarded the prestigious Alan and Elizabeth Finkel Prize for 2008. He received his BSc degree in Biomedical Sciences (BMedSci), with merit, from the University of Zambia – School of Medicine. Prior to coming to Vaxine PL as a Research Scientist in 2015, Dr Sakala was a post-doctoral research fellow at Saint Louis University and Washington University, Saint Louis, Missouri (USA), where he researched on how γδ T and mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are important for protective immunity against mycobacteria. His current research focuses on the use of novel vaccine adjuvants for efficient vaccine priming in neonates/young infants, and characterizing their mechanism(s) of action in inducing protective vaccine immunity.
Timona Tyllis is a second year PhD student in the Chemokine Biology Laboratory at the University of Adelaide. He works on mouse immunology with a focus on how the chemokine-chemokine receptor system coordinates CD8+ T cell responses. He is also an active committee member for the SA & NT branch of the Australasian Society for Immunology.
Danushka Wijesundara is an early career fellow with expertise in immunology, virology, vaccine development and development of novel assays to evaluate vaccine efficacy in vivo. Danushka was awarded a Bachelor of Biotechnology with Honours on the 12th of December, 2008 and his PhD on the 2nd of April, 2014 from The Australian National University. Since completing his PhD studies, he has been employed at the Virology Laboratory (The University of Adelaide) led by Prof. Eric Gowans to pursue his interests in developing vaccines against viral infections with the focus on human immunodeficiency virus, Zika virus and hepatitis C virus.
Dr Stanley Yu
Stanley Yu is currently working within translational oncology group, Centre for Cancer Biology, University of South Australia. Stanley Yu earned his Bachelor and PhD in medical virology from Wuhan University, China. He worked as research assistant and postdoc in Hong Kong University under the supervision of Professor Zhiwei Chen, from 2008 to 2010, focusing on HIV vaccine development. After immigration to Australia in 2011, he joined Eric Gowan's HCV group in Basil Hetzel Institute, University of Adelaide, to study HCV mouse model. In 2015, he joined his current group, under the supervision of Professor Michael Brown. His research interest mainly focuses on developing novel immunotherapy to treat cancer, including CAR-T cell therapy and antibody therapy.
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About ASI 2019
The Organising Committee cordially invite you to participate in the 48th Annual Scientific Meeting of The Australasian Society for Immunology taking place from 8-12 December 2019 in Adelaide.