Infection, Immunity and Cancer

Our Infection, Immunity and Cancer team undertakes discovery-based research focused on understanding the molecular basis of health and disease at the individual and population level.

Led by Professor Tania De Koning-Ward and Professor John Stambas, our internationally renowned researchers produce findings that are critical for identifying and accelerating new approaches to improving health and preventing diseases such as cancer, metabolic disorders and infectious diseases.

Our research derives the critical knowledge required to inform and accelerate strategies to reduce and eliminate diseases. This includes determining the best biomarkers of disease, as well as identifying essential cellular processes and molecular and biochemical pathways to which drugs and vaccines can be targeted.

The Centre for Innovation in Infectious Disease and Immunology Research (CIIDIR)

CIIDIR is an initiative of the Deakin University and Barwon Health partnership. It will build on existing strengths in human infectious disease, microbiome and immunology research, linking to a national network to enhance the response to emerging and existing infectious disease threats locally and globally.

Host-pathogen interactions

We’re exploring how pathogens infect their host and cause disease, and how the host responds to microbial insults. Our team undertakes genomic surveillance to investigate the transmission and development of microbial resistance to current therapeutics, as well as dissect genetic determinants that underlie susceptibility to infectious diseases. Some of the microbes we investigate include those that cause malaria, influenza, COVID-19, pneumonia, rabies and tuberculosis. We also study allergens and how they can trigger adverse reactions such as thunderstorm asthma.

Current research on COVID-19 is helping to understand the transmission of the virus in regional Victoria and the long-term physical and psychological consequences of the virus. Additionally, research on Buruli ulcer is providing insight into how this disease is spreading into new geographical areas in our region, information that is critical for implementing public health measures to halt its spread.

Signalling and gene regulation

We explore how external signals are transmitted intracellularly and how gene expression is regulated to control processes such as immune function, cellular growth and development to identify how these processes are disturbed, for example in blood cell disorders and cancers.

Cell biology

We dissect the cell biology of essential metals, such as zinc and copper, in deficiency diseases, neurological conditions, cancer and diabetes, to understand the cellular mechanisms of heavy metal toxicity.

Supported by national and international funding bodies, our innovative research informs new strategies to control, reduce and eliminate diseases of global health significance. Translating our research findings is key to developing innovative new tools and therapeutics to diagnose, treat and eliminate diseases. Our passionate team of researchers make use of the most advanced and cutting-edge technologies to find solutions to a range of global health conditions.

Training local junior researchers from the region with the skills and knowledge to empower them to become future leading researchers is a central focus for us. The expertise within our team has been recognised through invitations to collaborate in large international and national programs, publications in leading international journals and invitations to share our knowledge and discoveries at national and international conferences.

Team profiles:

Professor John Stambas Deputy Theme Leader
Professor Alister Ward Group Leader - Cytokine Biology
A/Prof. Alyssa Barry Group Leader - Systems Epidemiology of Infection
A/Prof. Amardeep Dhillon Group Leader - Gene Regulation and Oncogenesis
Dr Bernhard Dichtl Group Leader - Mechanisms of Gene Expression
A/Prof. Cenk Suphioglu Group Leader - NeuroAllergy Research Laboratory
Professor Eugene Athan Group Leader - Bacterial Pathogenesis
A/Prof. Giovanni Mandarano Group Leader - Medical Radiation Sciences
Professor Leigh Ackland Group Leader - Cellular and Molecular Biology
Dr Poshmaal Dhar Group Leader - Mucosal Immunology
Professor Soren Alexandersen Group Leader - Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases