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PhD projects

Discovering targets of long-lived humoral immunity for Strep A vaccine design.


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Danika Hill is a Laboratory Head in the Department of Immunology and Pathology, working to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underpin robust responses to vaccination and infection, with a particular interest in T follicular helper cells and the Germinal Centre response. Dr Hill’s research uses multi-disciplinary human clinical cohorts approaches and cutting-edge immunological techniques (high-parameter flow cytometry, single cell RNA and immune repertoire sequencing) to study Group A Streptoccous, malaria and influenza immunity.  

Dr Hill studied Biomedical Science at the University of Adelaide, and completed a PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. From 2015, Danika was a Postdoc in Dr Michelle Linterman’s group at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, before joining Monash University in 2020. Danika’s research is supported by an NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship and a Michelson Prize from the Human Vaccines Project. Dr Hill is an emerging global leader in human immunology, as evidenced by lecturing for Monash University, Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute, and being selected as a “Rising Star in Immunology” the Norwegian Society for Immunology.

Danika has made several important discoveries about how T follicular helper cells support the germinal centre response to influenza and malaria vaccines (e.g J Exp Med 2019, eLife 2020, eLife 2021), and how immune development in children influences vaccination outcomes (Science Translational Medicine 2020).

Supervision interests

Discovering targets of long-lived humoral immunity for Strep A vaccine design.

Enduring antibody-mediated immunity is critical for vaccines to provide protection from infectious disease. Despite the success of vaccines to date, there are still numerous pathogens that require a vaccination solution, including Group A Streptococcus. Most vaccines work by inducing antibodies, however the majority of the antibody response is short-lived and does not provide long-lasting protection. Selecting key antigens that can elicit long-term protective immunity across human populations continues to be a major roadblock for vaccine development. Long-lived and affinity matured humoral immunity is generated within germinal centres, which are transient structures that form within lymphoid tissues and in which B cells undergo mutation of their immunoglobulin genes and receive essential selection and survival signals from T follicular helper cells. Therefore, the antigens recognised by cells from the germinal centre are promising candidates to be targeted in the induction of long-lived immunity through vaccination. This project will use cutting-edge and innovative approaches to discover the Strep A antigens targeted by T follicular helper cells and memory B cells. It will involve studying human responses to GAS in blood samples from healthy individuals in an infectious challenge model, and involve techniques including flow cytometry, single-cell sequencing, bioinformatics, molecular biology, protein purification, lentiviral transduction, and high throughput screening

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Research area keywords

  • T-cells
  • CD4+ T cells
  • Vaccine responses
  • Cellular mechanisms

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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