Professor Scott Burrows began working at QIMR Berghofer in 1981 as a Research Assistant following completion of a BSc degree at Griffith University. He has chosen to remain within the expanding and evolving research environment at QIMR Berghofer for his entire 37 year career, completing a PhD in 1997 and progressing to the level of Group Leader and Principal Research Fellow, primarily through promotion and salary support from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. His research interests have revolved around Epstein-Barr virus which causes glandular fever and a range of human malignancies including Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma. His early studies investigating the immune response to Epstein-Barr virus has now led to successful clinical trials of new therapies for the diseases caused by this virus. His more recent work has greatly contributed towards our understanding of the molecular basis of how T cells of the immune system recognise and kill virus-infected cells. He has published a total of 185 scientific papers and these have been cited over 11,500 times.
Current QIMR Berghofer appointment(s)
- 2012 – current: Principal Research Fellow
- 2012 – current: QIMR Berghofer Group Leader, Cellular Immunology
- 2012 – 2017: Honorary Professor, School of Medicine, University of Queensland
- 2007 – 2011: Senior Research Fellow (NHMRC Level B), QIMR Berghofer MRI
- 2005 – 2011: Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Griffith Medical Research College, Griffith University
- 2002 – 2006: R. Douglas Wright Biomedical Career Development Fellow (NHMRC), QIMR Berghofer MRI
- 2002 – 2010: Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Population Health, University of Queensland
- 2001 – 2012: Laboratory Head, QIMR Berghofer MRI
- 2000 – 2002: Conjoint Senior Lecturer, School of Public Health, University of Queensland
- 1997 – 2001: Senior Research Officer, QIMR Berghofer MRI
- 1990 – 1996: Research Officer, QIMR Berghofer MRI
- 1981 – 1990: Research Assistant, QIMR Berghofer MRI
Current Area of Research
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is associated with 200,000 cancer cases annually. These malignancies include nasopharyngeal carcinoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease. EBV infection also predisposes to the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS). At present no commercial vaccines or antiviral drugs for EBV are available. T lymphocytes play a pivotal role in the immune control of EBV, recognising virus-infected cells through the use of T cell receptors (TCR). Studying the role of EBV infection in the development of MS is a major theme of this group, following on from the observation that MS patients have a weak T cell response to EBV which could allow the accumulation of EBV-infected autoreactive B cells in the brain. This team is investigating the cause and consequence of impaired immunity to EBV in MS which could lay the foundation for preventing and curing MS by controlling EBV infection.
Other projects aimed towards clinical translation involve the development and preclinical testing of novel approaches for treating EBV-associatedmalignancies, including using high affinity EBV-specific TCRs, either with TCR gene transfer or soluble high-affinity TCR therapy.The ultimate aim is to translate this technology into aclinical setting as an extension to the immunotherapy clinical trials for virus-associated malignancies already under way at QIMR Berghofer.
- Provided an immunological explanation for the protective effects of certain human leukocyte antigens in Epstein-Barr virus-associated Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Showed that a deficiency of killer T cells is an early & persistent feature of multiple sclerosis.
- Showed that killer T cells which control Epstein-Barr virus infection can be auto-reactive with “self-proteins”.
- Identified a small region of Epstein-Barr virus that stimulates a T cell immune response in many people and could be utilised for vaccine development.
- Demonstrated a novel mechanism by which the immune system diversifies the response to pathogens.
- Determined how atypical foreign antigens are recognized by killer T cells of the immune system.
- Showed that the dominant T cells of the immune system remain stable throughout life.
- Showed that individual T cells of the immune system are programmed to recognise peptides of a particular size.
- Showed that very minor genetic differences between people can have a major influence on their immune response to pathogens.
- Provided a high resolution portrait of how the T cells of the immune system recognise viral antigens.
- 1995 – 2015: Australasian Society for Immunology
- 1995 – 2014: International Epstein-Barr virus Association
- 2006 – 2016: American Association of Immunologists
- 2012 – 2016: American Society for Microbiology
- 2001: R. Douglas Wright Biomedical Career Development Award, NHMRC
- 2006: Senior Research Fellowship (Level B), NHMRC
- 2011: Principle Research Fellowship, NHMRC
- 1980: Bachelor of Science, Griffith University, Australia
- 1997: PhD, University of Qld, Australia