Mucosal Immunology

The Mucosal Immunology group seeks to develop innovative treatments for inflammation and chronic illnesses, like allergies, asthma and inflammatory bowel diseases, with a particular focus on children. We work in collaboration with other academics, clinicians, paediatricians, dietitians, chemists, and computational biologists to translate our efforts to the clinic and bring our findings to the public. We are interested in the mechanisms of immune dysregulation, the role of the microbiome and its interaction with the different immune compartments to understand disease onset. 

CURRENT RESEARCH

  • determine the composition of AIP-2-shaped breastmilk and define the microbiome, metabolome and immune landscape of AIP-2-nursed pups
  • determine the role of microbiome, immune factors and short-chain fatty acids in AIP-2-induced tolerance
  • influence of parasite infection on microbiome and metabolite composition in mother/baby dyads from hookworm endemic areas
  • development of a hookworm recombinant protein for the suppression of allergic responses
  • amelioration of behavioural alterations induced by the chronic social defeat model of major depressive disorder with a hookworm recombinant protein

Staff

  • Dr Yan Lu
  • Dr Athena Andreosso
  • Chris De Santo
  • Madeleine Rogers
  • Jessica Wilkie
  • Agnieszka Malczewski
  • Rina Kumar
  • Alexis Hung

Internal Collaborators

External Collaborators

  • Dr Andrew Greenhill, Federation University Australia
  • Dr Andreas Kupz, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University
  • Professor Andreas Lopata, James Cook University
  • Dr Paul Horwood, James Cook University
  • Professor Zoltan Sarnyai, James Cook University
  • Associate Professor Victoria Eley, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
  • Professor Leonie Callaway, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
  • Professor Nikhil Thapar, Queensland Children’s Hospital
  • Professor Danielle Gallegos, Queensland University of Technology

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the following funding agencies:

  • Mary McConnel Career Boost Program for Women in Paediatric Research
  • Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation Seed Grants
  • Woolworths Children Nutrition Research Centre/ Children’s Hospital Foundation Fellowship
  • Takeda COCKPI-T
  • Therapeutic Innovation Australia

STUDENT PROJECTS

Prevention of allergy development in neonates by manipulating the microbiome

This project is suitable for a PhD student. Nearly one billion people globally suffer from allergies responsible for significant morbidity and reduced quality of life. Our group has discovered a process during the neonatal “Window of Opportunity” that prevents allergy from developing later in life. We propose to understand the mechanisms that allow neonates to […]

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Hookworm-derived polypeptides for the treatment of chronic diseases

This project is suitable for a Master, Honour or PhD student. We have discovered hookworm proteins and peptides able to modulate the immune response and protect against allergic and autoimmune diseases (like IBD and colitis). We are interested in developing these novel compounds into the clinics and determine how the proteins alter cellular function. Gut-resident […]

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Influence of early life parasitic infection on infant gut microbiome

This project is suitable for a PhD student. The Western lifestyle, characterised by a nutrient-poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and exposure to antibiotics / pollution, and the Hygiene Hypothesis have been directly implicated in the development of allergic diseases. Parasites, such as hookworms, modulate the microbiome and provide important maturation signals to the immune system that […]

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