Our research

Infectious Diseases and Immunology has a number of ongoing research projects covering a wide range of activities. Several of these projects involve collaboration with other groups both within and outside the University.

Molecular Virology Research Group

Basic research on EV71 molecular biology and pathogenesis is being undertaken within Professor Peter McMinn's group at University of Sydney, Australia. This research is aimed at understanding the molecular genetics of EV71 virulence. This includes studies of EV71 receptor interactions, EV71 replication and animal model studies of EV71 pathogenesis. The ultimate aim of this research is to develop a live attenuated vaccine against EV71.
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Varicella Zoster Virus Research Group

Associate Professor Abendroth's team works on a medically important human herpesvirus, varicella zoster virus (VZV) infects up to 90% of the population. VZV causes chickenpox (varicella) predominantly in childhood and shingles (herpes zoster) in middle to old age people. Whilst VZV usually causes relatively mild disease in healthy individuals, it still causes significant morbidity in children and adults. VZV causes life-threatening disease in immunocompromised individuals such as patients who are elderly or have HIV disease.
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Cytomegalovirus Research Group

Associate Professor Barry Slobedman is head of the Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Research Group. Human CMV is a herpesvirus which infects a vast majority of the world’s population, where it is a leading cause of opportunistic and congenital disease. The overall goal of the CMV Research Group is to define the mechanisms by which CMV causes life-threatening disease in these at-risk individuals, so as to provide a rational basis for the design of novel anti-viral therapeutics to prevent or treat CMV disease.
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Cellular Immunology Research Group

The Cellular Immunology Research Group, headed by Dr Scott Byrne, is interested in how the ultraviolet part of the solar spectrum alters the immune outcome so that immune regulation or suppression occurs instead of immune activation. These studies are important because immune suppression is one of the main contributors to skin cancer development. Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying immune regulation is also important for other diseases such as autoimmune disorders and for the success of immunisation strategies.
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Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunity Group

Associate Professor Jamie Triccas and his group are undertaking research to understand how M. tuberculosis causes disease, and to develop novel and effective strategies to control infection. Around one third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis resulting in approximately 2 million deaths from tuberculosis each year. The current vaccine against tuberculosis, bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), displays variable protective efficacy against the most prevalent disease form, pulmonary tuberculosis, and protection afforded by BCG is not life-long.
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Pathobiology of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in Cystic Fibrosis Group

The major areas of interest for Dr Jim Manos and his group include infectious bacterial pathogens of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patients, and in particular, the genomic variation and global gene expression, epidemiology, phenotypic characteristics of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in these patients. Work is continuing at both genotypic and phenotypic levels, and has led to characterisation of the differences between infecting P. aeruginosa strains that may lead to better treatment options for infected patients.
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Immunology and Host Defence Group

Dr Carl Feng is head of the Immunology and Host Defence Group. Infectious diseases are a major cause of death globally. For example, one third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and 10 per cent of these individuals will develop active tuberculosis disease in their lifetime. Tuberculosis is responsible for 1.5 million deaths annually and a leading killer of HIV patients. The group’s research is focused on the understanding of the mechanisms mediating host resistance to persistent intracellular pathogens, with the goal of developing novel interventions for preventing and treating chronic infectious diseases in humans.
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