In Summary

Research into frameworks to improve vaccines, and treating autoimmunity and cancer has received funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Understanding how immune cells respond to infection to both combat the infection and develop memory is crucial for improving vaccines, resolving autoimmune disorders, and developing immunological therapies for cancer.

“Despite intense international research over decades, there are still many key things we don't understand about immune responses. In this project, we have developed an entirely new approach to exploring the immunological response,” project leader Professor Sarah Russell said.

The project combines expertise in photonics, microfabrication and computer science at Swinburne with immunological expertise at PeterMac, and sophisticated new 'cell bar-coding' technologies at the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

“Using this combination of expertise, we will watch the entire immune response unfold, measuring minute changes in cell behaviour and signalling, to assess what determines a memory or effector outcome,” Professor Russell said.

“The funding will provide exciting opportunities to apply our technologies and develop a fundamental understanding of the control of immune cell decision-making.

“We hope that these findings will provide a framework for improving vaccines, and treating auto-immunity and cancer.”

NHMRC is Australia's leading expert body for supporting health and medical research, developing health advice for the Australian community, health professionals and governments.

NHMRC funding supports research across the full spectrum of health and medical research, from basic science through to clinical, public health and health services research.