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Personal profile


Professor Hartland obtained her B. Sc. (Hons) majoring in microbiology and biochemistry and her Ph.D in microbiology from the University of Melbourne. She has held a Royal Society/NHMRC Howard Florey Fellowship in the Department of Biochemistry, Imperial College London and Lecturer/Senior Lecturer positions at Monash University, Australia. She was an inaugural Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the University of Melbourne and subsequently held the positions of Head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne and Deputy Director of the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. She is currently the Director and CEO of Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne and Head of the Department of Molecular and Translational Science at Monash University. Professor Hartland has a long-standing research interest in the pathogenesis of infections caused by Gram-negative pathogens, with a focus on mechanisms of bacterial colonization and immune evasion.

Research interests

Intracellular bacterial pathogens and cell intrinsic immunity. Many bacterial pathogens have acquired the capacity to replicate inside human cells by avoiding cell intrinsic innate immune pathways.Pathogens such as Legionella and Burkholderia are environmental organisms that cause the life threatening opportunistic infections known as Legionnaire’s Disease and melioidosis respectively. A feature of both pathogens is the capacity of the bacteria to replicate within human cells through effector-mediated manipulation of host cell biology. Our goal is to identify and characterize effectors that interact with cell intrinsic innate immune pathways. Ultimately this will allow us to understand the molecular mechanisms by which intracellular bacteria cause disease.

Translocated effectors of intestinal bacterial pathogens. The subversion of host cell processes by microbial pathogens is an intrinsic part of the host-pathogen interaction. Many bacterial pathogens have the ability to transport virulence proteins, termed effector proteins, into host cells via specialized protein secretion systems. We work on a range of effectors from pathogenic E. coli, Shigella and Salmonella that interfere with host innate immune signaling pathways and block inflammation and cell death. The aim of this work is to investigate the manipulation of host cell signaling by effector protein families to understand their influence on host cell function, inflammatory signaling and the innate immune response.

Innate immune responses to the human microbiota. The study of host-pathogen interactions has significantly advanced our understanding of bacterial virulence, infection and the host immune response. However, until recently these studies have largely ignored the role of the resident microbiome.  Although the commensal microbiome is known to provide some protection against infection by mucosal pathogens, we know little about the interactions between pathogens, the specific elements of the microbiome and the innate immune response at mucosal surfaces. Classical bacterial pathogens have evolved specific virulence factors to compete with resident commensals as well as subvert host immune responses. In addition, many bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics causing further disruption to the microbiome. To understand how the mucosa and microbiome communities respond to disruption by pathogen infection and antibiotic treatment, we will use an iPSC-derived tissue systems and defined human microbiome communities to map the mechanisms underlying infection resistance, tissue repair and ongoing inflammation, as well as identify potentially protective human microbiome communities and isolates.


Supervision interests

Professor Hartland is an accomplished research supervisor and mentor and has supervised 19 PhD students to completion as primary supervisor. Three of her former students have won NHMRC Early Career Fellowships and one former student was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship. Under Professor Hartland’s supervision, former PhD student Dr Pearson was awarded the 2014 University of Melbourne Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in a PhD Thesis and the 2014 Deans Award for Excellence in a PhD Thesis. Dr Pearson also won the 2014 Premier’s Award for Health and Medical Research.

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

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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