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Uncovering the functional and genomic defects driving Predominantly Antibody Deficiency

20092024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Biography

Dr Emily Edwards is a dedicated Senior Research Fellow with a growing national and international reputation in Immunology and Pathology. Dr Edwards leads Primary Immunodeficiency research in the Allergy and Clinical Immunology laboratory (Dept of Immunology, STM, Monash University).

Dr Edwards completed her PhD in 2011 at Cardiff University UK, studying the impact of peptide modification on generation of antigen-specific CD8 T cell responses under the supervision of Linda Wooldridge and Andrew Sewell.

Post-PhD, Dr Edwards relocated to Australia to complete a series of post-doctoral training under Rajiv Khanna’s laboratory at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (2011-2014), Stuart Tangye’s Laboratory at the Garvan Institute (2014-2018) and Menno van Zelm’s laboratory at Monash University (2018 – present). In the past 10 years, notable highlights of her research include identification of key phenotypic and transcriptional attributes of CMV-specific CD4 T cells, a novel description of CD70-deficiency, and published insights into the mechanisms underlying disease in activated PI3Kδ disease, MAGT1-deficiency and CD27-deficiency.

Dr Edwards was recruited to Prof Menno van Zelm’s laboratory at Monash University in 2018, where Emily continues her research interest in identifying new genetic defects underlying immunodeficiency, autoimmunity and gastrointestinal disease in Predominantly Antibody Deficiency (PAD) the most prevalent symptomatic PID.

Dr Edwards has a total of 25 Publications (17 in last 5years) with an overall H-index of 14, and total citations of 1305 (1076 since 2017), with an expected upward trajectory. Over the last 5 years (2015-2020) her overall Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWI) is 3.2. 

Research interests

Dr Edwards is the 2022 recipient of the Grifols ASPIRE (Award for Scientific Progress in Immunodeficiency Research) Award which will enable her to develop and standardise functional testing protocols, and new bioinformatic analysis pipelines to facilitate research that will determine the functional and genetic defects causing PAD. The ultimate aim of this program is advance genetic diagnosis of PAD, thereby increasing patient access to personalised medicine which is urgently needed to reduce the incidence of irreversible organ damage and early death.

A strong focus of Dr Edwards's research is dissection of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the development of non-infectious diseases including autoimmunity, gastrointestinal and malignancy in IEI patients. The aim of which is to identify genetic and immunological biomarkers for the development of these hard-to-treat complications, which will enable more precise diagnosis and targeted treatment, hence subverting the early mortality and high morbidity rates associated with disease. Recent work focuses on dissecting how SARS-CoV-2-specific immunity is impacted in IEI patients, and how immunoglobulin replacement therapy (IgRT) impacts patient responses to infection.

Supervision interests

Dr Edwards has mentored 8 PhD candidates and 3 honours students both domestically and internationally. She co-supervised 4 honours students, 1 who are currently undertaking their PhDs under her supervision, and a second that completed under her supervision in 2023. Additionally, she has co-supervised 3 third year research placement students.

University Service

Journal Editing/Peer-review

Dr Edwards is an Associate Editor for BMC Medicine and an invited peer reviewer for the following journals: Allergy, BMC Medicine, Cell Reports, Clinical and Translational Immunology, Immunology and Cell Biology, Immunology, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Journal of Clinical Immunology, Journal of Clinical Medicine, Viruses and Vaccine.

Community service

2022

  • Speaker at AusPIPS Inc. online webinar on Functional Genomics for improved diagnosis and treatment of Primary Immunodeficiencies
  • Expert interview World Primary Immunodeficiency Week Podcast episode 3: Research https://anchor.fm/wpiw/episodes/World-PI-Week-Talks-Episode-6---Research-e1h7eoc
  • Short video interview describing my research in to predominantly antibody deficiency and why this research is urgently required: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMSwOsa7AeE
  • Expert interviews regarding SARS-CoV-2-induced immunity, COVID-19 vaccination for immunocompromised patients and what opening up state borders means for these vulnerable patients. >15 interviews since June 2021 including for ABC Radio, ABC new channel, Canberra radio and inline sites including ABC news, SBS news, news GP and live science (UK).
  • Short video interview to raise awareness of Primary Immunodeficiency as part of Rare Diseases Awareness Week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMSwOsa7AeE

2021

  • The Conversation article “Why is a third COVID-19 vaccine dose important for people who are immunocompromised?
  • Invited talk: CSL Townhall to explain what immunoglobulin is and why patients require immunoglobulin replacement therapy
  • Invited interview for Einstein-ago-go to raise awareness of Primary Immunodeficiency during World Primary Immunodeficiency Week.
  • Invited speaker for “20 Post Docs 20 Minutes” program on Einstein-a-go-go on Melbourne’s 3RRR.

2020

  • Viral Immunity expert for piece in Caixin Newspaper, China (Published 10/03/2020).
  • Viral Immunity expert for piece on ABC science online (Published 16/07/2020).
  • Viral Immunity expert for piece on newsGP online (Published 14/07/2020).

2019

  • Invited speaker as part of Primary Immunodeficiency Awareness on Einstein-a-go-go on Melbourne’s 3RRR.

2018

  • Invited speaker on Primary Immunodeficiency and research in the field on Einstein-a-go-go Melbourne’s 3RRR.
  • Marketing Co-ordinator for Northern Beaches Chorus (Not For Profit Organisation), Sydney, Australia.

2017

  • Mentor for 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures Program run by the New York Academy of Science. (Online)

2013

  • Marketing Co-ordinator for Brisbane City Sounds Chorus (Not For Profit Organisation), Brisbane, Australia.
  • Guide for Laboratory Tours at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

2011

  • Demonstrator and Chaperone for Science in Health Open Days run by Cardiff University.

2009

  • Selected Participant for Researchers in Residence Program run by the Wellcome Trust.

Monash teaching commitment

Dr Edwards is a lecturer for third year Human Pathology and the Masters in Translational Immunology at Monash University. She was also a Teaching Associate for undergraduate Immunology, Human Pathology  and Clinical Immunopathology units (also examiner) at Monash.

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

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Cardiff University

… → 2011

Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours), Cardiff University

… → 2007

External positions

Vice President, AusPIPS Inc

2019 → …

Visiting Scientist, Garvan Institute of Medical Research (New South Wales)

Jan 2018Jan 2019

Travel Grant Panel Examiner, British Society of Immunology

2018 → …

ESID Juniors Country Representative for Australia

20182020

Research Officer, Garvan Institute of Medical Research (New South Wales)

Feb 2014Jan 2018

Research Officer, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

Jul 2011Dec 2013

Research area keywords

  • B cells
  • T cells
  • primary immunodeficiencies
  • Viral immunity
  • Functional genomics

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or