Infection and immunological conditions

Infectious diseases are a leading cause of death worldwide and each year new infectious agents are emerging. To combat this trend our researchers seek to understand the body’s immune response which is important for a wide range of diseases, from autoimmune conditions, where the immune response to the individual is excessive, to emerging infectious diseases affecting populations around the world.

Our researchers study bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. They investigate all types of immune reactions, including agents of importance to:

  • Australia, such as swine and human influenza;
  • Asia Pacific, such as malaria; and
  • around the world, such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

The study of infectious diseases and immunology at Sydney Medical School covers laboratory, clinic and population studies, and involves all organ systems and crosses all medical specialties.

Some research questions we are investigating are:


Is the world prepared for the challenge of emerging infectious diseases such as swine flu and West Nile Virus?

Why is asthma so prevalent in Australia, and how can we reduce the severity of attacks?

How can we eradicate the “big three” infectious diseases – tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria?

What determines whether the immune system clears infections or contributes to their harmful effects on the body?

Theme Leader

Professor Tania Sorrell

Find a researcher

Looking for a researcher or a PhD supervisor? Take a look at the "Find a Researcher" page to search for our world-class infectious disease and immunology researchers.

Latest News

Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Critical Infectious Diseases
An internationally recognised team, led by the University of Sydney's Associate Professor Jon Iredell has been awarded a $2.5m National Health and Medical Research Council grant to establish a Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Critical Infectious Diseases at Westmead Millennium Institute. The focus of the new centre will be life threatening infectious diseases that can be found in hospital intensive care units, including septic shock, severe pneumonia and encephalitis.

"This project will improve health outcomes for critically ill people," said the Dean of Sydney Medical School, Professor Bruce Robinson. "Within the University of Sydney, Westmead Millennium Institute and Westmead Hospital, we have a brilliant team of researchers and clinicians working in the area of critical infectious diseases. The work Professor Iredell and others do through this project will lead directly to better health care systems, better patient safety and better management of these critical infections." (more)


Promoting animal-friendly research
Professor Georges Grau, of the Department of Pathology at Sydney Medical School, has been recognised with The University of Sydney's inaugural Award for the Reduction of Use of Animals in Research. Professor Grau developed an in vitro model to study the disease to replace the customary method of inoculating mice with a rodent-specific malaria parasite.
His system has also been taken up by researchers in the USA and Europe, and has been adapted to the study of other diseases of the brain including viral encephalitis, tumour metastasis, multiple sclerosis and cryptococcal meningitis. The first of its kind from an Australian research institution, the award is designed to encourage researchers to think about how they can reduce or replace animal testing altogether. (more)

Deadly swine flu risk to pregnant women uncovered in landmark study
A study led by Dr Ian Seppelt has found women with swine flu who were more than 20 weeks pregnant were 13 times more likely to be admitted to hospital with a critical illness. (more)