Our People

Christian Engwerda

Professor | Head of Infectious Diseases Program |
Group Leader of Immunology & Infection

Immunology & Infection

+61 449 239 825

christian.engwerda@qimrberghofer.edu.au

 

CAREER HISTORY

Professor Christian Engwerda studies the behaviour of T cells during parasitic infections. His group investigates how T cell responses are regulated during infection and uses this knowledge to develop new approaches to treat disease. Professor Engwerda established his laboratory at QIMR Berghofer in 2003 as a NHMRC career Development Fellow, after spending 8 years at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He is a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and works with experimental models of malaria and leishmaniasis. In recent years, his group’s research has increasingly focused on studying samples from volunteers deliberately infected with parasites, as well as from malaria and leishmaniasis patients. The goal of his research is to improve anti-parasitic immunity using host-directed treatments in combination with vaccines and/or anti-parasitic drugs. He is also using his discoveries in parasitic diseases to guide development of new treatments for chronic inflammatory diseases.

 

CURRENT APPOINTMENTS

2020-current: Acting Head, Infectious Diseases Program, QIMR Berghofer

2003-current: Group Leader, Immunology and Infection Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer

2019-current: Professor (Adjunct), Faculty of Health, Research-Biomedical Sciences, Queensland University of Technology 

2014-current: Professor (Adjunct), School of Natural Sciences, Griffith University 

2012-current: QIMR Berghofer Principal Research Fellow 

2012-current: Professor (Honorary), School of Medicine, University of Queensland 

2009-current: NHMRC Senior Research Fellow 

 

PREVIOUS APPOINTMENTS

2014-2018: Consultant, Anatara Pty Ltd.

2006-2009: Consultant, Incitive Limited

2006: Visiting Professor, Faculty of Medicine, J. J. Strossmayer Univeristy, Osijek, Croatia

1998-2002: Lecturer / Wellcome Trust Career Development Research Fellow, Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London UK.

 

ORCID NUMBER 

0000-0003-2813-4804

 

RESEARCHER ID

I-3072-2015 (Web of Science), 6701380722 (Scopus)

 

CURRENT AREA OF RESEARCH

Our goal is to understand the immunoregulatory mechanisms employed by CD4+ T cells during parasitic diseases so that we can manipulate them for clinical advantage. We use pre-clinical and clinical malaria and visceral leishmaniasis (VL) samples to generate unique data sets to identify novel immune molecules that can be targeted to improve human health. We have identified new clinical targets that can be directed for therapeutic advantage during infection, cancer and autoimmunity. We also investigate whether we can re-purpose existing drugs to target the molecules we have discovered, as well as generating and testing new therapeutics. We will identify drugs to improve disease outcomes in a broad range of inflammatory disease, as well as continue to test if these drugs can be employed to improve vaccines and/or drug treatment in malaria or leishmaniasis. We continue to collaborate with colleagues in disease endemic countries – most notably with researchers based at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India and train students and postdoctoral fellows from these groups.

 

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

  • Discovery: LTα, and not TNF, is the principal mediator of experimental cerebral malaria: Engwerda, C. R., T. L. Mynott, S. Sawhney, J. B. De Souza, Q. Bickle and P. M. Kaye. Lymphotoxin-alpha, not Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, is the principle mediator in murine cerebral malaria.  J Exp Med 2002, 195: 1371; cited 242 times
  • Discovery: critical roles for regulatory T (Treg) cells in malaria: Amante, F. H., A. C. Stanley, L. M. Randall, Y. Zhou, A. P. Waters, C. J. Janse, M. F. Good, G. R. Hill and C. R. Engwerda. A role for natural regulatory T cells in the pathogenesis of experimental cerebral malaria. Am J Path 2007, 171: 548
  • Discovery: how host immune factors allow malaria parasites to accumulate in tissues and cause disease:Amante, F. H., A. Haque, A. C. Stanley, F. Rivera, L. M. Randall, Y. A. Wilson, G. Yeo, C. Pieper, B. S. Crabb, T. F. de Koning-Ward, R. J. Lundie, M. F. Good, A. Pinzon-Charry, M. S. Pearson, M. G. Duke, D. P. McManus, A. Loukas, G. R. Hill and C. R. Engwerda. Immune-mediated mechanisms of parasite tissue sequestration during experimental cerebral malaria. J Immunol 2010, 185: 3632
  • Discovery: identified the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which type I interferons suppress anti-parasitic immunity: Haque, A., S. E. Best, M. Montes de Oca, K. R. James, A.  Ammerdorffer, C. L. Edwards, F. de Labastida Rivera, F. H. Amante, P. T. Bunn, M. Sheel, I. Sebina, M. Koyama, A. Varelias, P. J. Hertzog, U. Kalinke, L. Rénia, C. Ruedl, K. P. A. MacDonald, G. R. Hill and C. R. Engwerda. 2014. Type I IFN signaling in CD8- DC’s impairs Th1-dependent malaria immunity. J Clin Invest 124:2483.
  • Identification: a major immunoregulatory pathway in malaria and leishmaniasis: Montes de Oca, M., R. Kumar, F. de Labastida Rivera, F. H. Amante, M. Sheel, R. J. Faleiro, P. T. Bunn, S. E. Best, L. Beattie, S. S. Ng, C. L. Edwards, W. Muller, E. Cretney, S. L. Nutt, M. J. Smyth, A. Haque, G. R. Hill, S. Sundar, A. Kallies and C. R. Engwerda. 2016. Blimp-1-dependent IL-10 production by Tr1 cells regulates TNF-mediated tissue pathology. PLoS Pathog 12: e1005398
  • Discovery: type I IFNs promote the development of above immunoregulatory pathways in humans: Montes de Oca, M., R. Kumar, F. L. Rivera, F. H. Amante, M. Sheel, R. J. Faleiro, P. T. Bunn, S. E. Best, L. Beattie, S. S. Ng, C. L. Edwards, G. M. Boyle, R. N. Price, N. M. Anstey, J. R. Loughland, J. Burel, D. L. Doolan, A. Haque, J. S. McCarthy and C. R. Engwerda. 2016. Type I interferons regulate immune responses in humans with blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum infection. Cell Rep 17: 399
  • Demonstration: type I IFNs can be modulated for therapeutic advantage in mice and humans: Kumar, R., P. T. Bunn, S. S. Singh, S. S. Ng, M. Montes de Oca, F. De Labastida Rivera, S. Bhushan Chauhan, N. Singh, R. J. Faleiro, C. L. Edwards, T. C. M. Frame, M. Sheel, R. J. Austin, S. W. Lane, T. Bald, M. J. Smyth, G. R. Hill, S. E. Best, A. Haque, D. Corvino, N. Waddell, L. Koufariotis, P. Mukhopadhay, M. Rai, J. Chakravarty, O. P. Singh, D. Sacks, S. Nylen, J. Uzonna, S. Sundar and C. R. Engwerda. 2020. Type I interferons suppress anti-parasitic immunity and can be targeted to improve treatment of visceral leishmaniasis. Cell Rep 30: 2512
  • Summary: major immunoregulatory pathways and their impact on disease outcome: Kumar, R., J. R. Loughland, S. S. Ng, M. J. Boyle and C. R. Engwerda. The regulation of CD4+ T cells during malaria. Immunol Rev 293: 70
  • Discovery: identifying NKG7 as a novel mediator of inflammation: Ng, S. S., F. de Labastida Rivera, J. Yan, D. Corvino, I. Das, P. Zhang, R. Kuns, S. B. Chauhan, J. Hou, X-Y Li, T. C. M. Frame, B. A. McEnroe, E. Moore, J. Na, J. A. Engel, M. S. F. Soon, B. Singh, A. J. Kueh, M. J. Herold, M. Montes de Oca, S. S. Singh, P. T. Bunn, A. R. Aguilera, M. Casey, M. Braun, N. Ghazanfari, S. Wani, Y. Wang, F. H. Amante, C. L. Edwards, A. Haque, W. C. Dougall, O. P. Singh, A. G. Baxter, M. W. L. Teng, A. Loukas, N. L. Daly, N. Cloonan, M. Degli-Esposti, J. Uzonna, W. R. Heath, T. Bald, S-K. Tey, K. Nakamura, G. R. Hill, R. Kumar, S. Sundar, M. J. Smyth and C. R. Engwerda. 2020. The Natural Killer cell granule protein NKG7 regulates cytotoxic granule exocytosis and inflammation. Nat Immunol In press
  • Discovery: from study with applications for a broad range of inflammatory diseases: Ng, S. S. and C. R. Engwerda. 2019. PCT/AU2019/050049. Modulating Immune Response

 

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

2019-current: Section Editor, PLoS Pathogens

2019-2020: Member, NHMRC Synergy Grant Assessment Panel

2016-2019: Associate Editor, PLoS Pathogens

2012-2015: Associate Editor, Journal of Immunology

2010-current: Member of the Specialist Editorial Board, International Journal for Parasitology

2007-current: Editorial Board, Infection and Immunity

2007/2017-2018: Member, NHMRC Project Grants Microbiology Panel

2006-2016: Associate Editor, PLoS Neglected Diseases

2006/2008/2010-2011: Member, NHMRC Project Grants Immunology Panel

2005-2006: Member, NHMRC Training Awards Assessment Panel

2005/2007/2009: Expert of International Standing, Australian Research Council (ARC) 

2004-current: Member, American Association for Immunologist (AAI)

2004-current: Editorial Board, Parasite Immunology

2002-current: Member, Australian Society for Immunology

 

AWARDS RECOGNITION

2019: NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship, NHMRC Australia

2019: American Society for Microbiology, distinguished service award as an Editorial Board Member of Infection and Immunity awarded by the Journals Committee

2014: NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship, NHMRC Australia

2009: NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship, NHMRC Australia

 

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

1994-1998: Research Fellow, Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London UK

1992-1994: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

1993: Doctor of Philosophy, La Trobe University

1989: Bachelor of Agricultural Science, La Trobe University