- 22 August 2019
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Thursday 22 AUGUST 2019, 1.00 PM
Auditorium, Level 6, Bancroft Building
chronic GVHD of the brain: neurocognitive impact and underlying mechanisms
Dr Kelli MacDonald
Antigen Presentation and Immunoregulation
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) offers a curative treatment for a number of haematological malignancies. Chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) is the primary cause of late mortality, morbidity and impaired quality of life after SCT. SCT patients with cGVHD commonly present with neurological manifestations including depression, anxiety and impaired learning and memory. These patients represent a highly vulnerable population at risk for poor clinical outcomes and substantial morbidity from their illness. There is limited knowledge regarding the underlying biological mechanisms underpinning the neurological dysfunction associated with cGVHD, thus experimental studies are urgently required. We have new evidence that at least some of the neurological symptoms associated with cGVHD are directly caused by cGVHD affecting the brain itself. Ongoing studies are focused on understanding the pathophysiology of brain cGVHD and identifying therapeutically targetable pathways to prevent and treat this devastating complication of SCT.
Following completing her PhD in developmental neuroscience as an NHMRC scholar in 1996, Dr MacDonald moved into the field of immunology, undertaking several postdoctoral positions (Diamantina Institute, MMRI and QIMR Berghofer) where she focused on the roles of antigen presenting cells and T cells in the setting of chronic inflammation. She was a recipient of an NHMRC CDA (2010-2005) and a CCQ SRF (2011-2015) and in 2010 became Group Leader of the Antigen Presentation and Immunoregulation Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer.