Immunology and Host Defense

Lab head: Dr Carl Feng
Location: Blackburn Building The University of Sydney, Camperdown Campus

Funding: NHMRC

Defining human innate response triggered by virulent mycobacteria

Primary supervisor: Carl Feng


Mycobacterium tuberculosisis a virulent bacterium as it is able to evade immune clearance and cause persistent infection. One third of the world’s population is infected with the pathogen and 10% of them will eventually develop tuberculosis (TB) in their lifetime. This global health burden of TB has intensified with the increasing prevalence of drug-resistant M. tuberculosis strains and HIV co-infection. Understanding the mechanisms underlying persistent M. tuberculosis infection will lead to new strategies for the prevention and treatment of TB. We have previously reported that virulent and avirulent mycobacteria trigger distinct innate responses in human macrophages. In this study, we will examine the question how the host discriminates between the two types of mycobacteria. We will stimulate primary human macrophages or a monocytic cell line with live organism or virulence-associated microbial products. The activation of downstream innate signaling pathways will be determined using biochemical methods. Identification of pathway(s) activated specifically by virulent mycobacteria will lead to a better understanding of TB pathogenesis. Techniques involved include mycobacterial and mammalian cell culture, transfection, quantitative PCR, ELISA, Western blot and cell isolation. 

Discipline: Infectious diseases and Immunology
Co-supervisors: James Triccas
Keywords: cell signalling, Immune response, Gene knockdown and molecular biology