Our immunology researchers focus on understanding how the immune system protects the body against infection. It aims to unravel the molecular blueprint of specialised epithelial cells and innate and adaptive immune cells to discover the switches that drive their fate decisions and effector functions in viral and bacterial infections using animal models together with clinical tissues. This work bridges the gap in understanding how rich microbial communities normally found at the body’s surfaces influence and signal to the immune system and induce the pivotal first signals to kick-start the immune system. Our objective is to discover these signals and to develop novel strategies that can augment responses to tackle infections and responses to tumours.

Cell differentiation is the process by which cells develop and mature. In this process, cells become more specialised and acquire potent effector functions that allow them to eliminate infectious organisms. There is an urgent need to develop new therapies that focus on augmenting host immunity.

Our research focuses on:

  • Elucidating the mechanisms responsible for the generation of protective immunity in response to lung and gastrointestinal pathogens
  • How protective immunity breaks down in chronic overwhelming infections
  • Identifying factors that can promote host immune responses and potent long-lived protective immunological memory.

We have developed and use a number of in vivo models of infectious diseases including:

  • Influenza
  • Herpes virus
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)

These models provide us with an unprecedented opportunity to examine the mechanisms that these pathogens employ to infect hosts and elicit immune protection or to subvert the host responses. Using a variety of approaches including multiparameter flow cytometry, systems biology and global gene expression profiling we aim to define cellular and transcriptional pathways in normal memory T cell differentiation, innate immune cell subsets and immune failure.