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Personal profile

Research interests

The astonishing lack of innovation in the treatment of certain autoimmune diseases, especially systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; lupus) and related  diseases, is broadly acknowledged. For the last 60 years, glucocorticoid (GC) (or ‘steroid’) use has been effectively universal in the treatment of autoimmune disorders both in developed and developing countries. This is despite the predictable harmful effects of glucocorticoids on health, and also despite decades of research aiming to uncover a safer alternative. Why the stagnation in progress in this field? No newly discovered targets or pathways have proved to be as widely applicable as GC to the range of processes operative in autoimmune disease. 

What is lacking is a safe targeted therapeutic with the rapid, profound, ‘diagnosis agnostic’ effects of GC. Our work in a range of inflammatory cells and pathways, in mouse models and human samples, has confirmed that the glucocorticoid-induced protein GILZ represents a novel therapeutic alternative to reduce reliance on glucocorticoids.

The research conducted by my team is paving a pathway towards developing a therapeutic strategy to target GILZ. We draw upon our internationally recognised expertise and tools in lupus models, glucocorticoid biology and human immunology. Our research centre curates a very large and detailed longitudinal lupus clinical database linked to a multi-thousand sample biobank, as well as access to the full suite of molecular and cellular technologies and murine lupus models.

See more here: https://youtu.be/2KS1WZbGFJs 

Biography

I am a Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Rheumatology Research Group in the Department of Medicine, Monash University School of Clinical Sciences. Within the Rheumatology Research Group, headed by Professor Eric Morand, I lead an independent research team that includes graduate and undergraduate students, and postdoctoral research fellows.

I undertook my PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, studying the mechanisms that drive autoimmune disease, particularly B cell and plasma cell devloment and behaviour. I then took a postdoctoral position at Harvard Medical School where I used multiphoton microscopy to visualise these events. Following this I moved to Trinity College Dublin, where I studied mechanisms of innate immunity that are helpful, or harmful, in inflammatory bowel disease. I was then recruited to Monash University where we now study how innate and adaptive immunity intersect to drive autoimmune diseases, particularly lupus.

Supervision interests

I am currently supervising PhD, Honours and BMedSci students - please contact me if you are interested in joining our group.

Clinical activities

I am a lecturer in a 3rd year Clinical Immunopathology Unit, Monash University

Consulting

Scientific consultant, editor and lead author, Nelson Cengage Learning

  • Biology for the Australian Curriculum, Units 3 and 4 (released in Australia and New Zealand)
  • Biology for the Victorian Certificate of Education, Units 1 and 2
  • Biology for the Victorian Certificate of Education, Units 3 and 4

Community service

  • I deliver annual educational sessions for senior biology teachers and distribute teaching resources for use by teachers and students. 
  • I have held had many volunteer roles with multiple outreach programs targeting senior secondary school students and teachers including the Research Australia Youth Ambassador program

Research area keywords

  • Immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Inflammation
  • Adaptive immunity
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Clinical translation
  • Drug discovery
  • Vaccine design
  • Germinal centre reaction
  • Antibodies
  • Autoantibodies
  • B cells
  • Plasma cells
  • T cells
  • Th17 cells
  • Autophagy

Network

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