Viruses and Immunity

For more information about this potential research topic or activity, or to discuss any related research area, please contact the supervisor.

Understanding and manipulating CD8+ T cell responses to viruses and genetically engineered virus vaccines

CD8+ T cells are an important weapon used by humans and other mammals to fight infection. In our laboratory, we use vaccinia virus as a model to dissect the factors that contribute to the strength and specificity of anti-viral T cell responses. An important aspect of CD8+ T cell specificity is that responses are not distributed equally amongst the various parts of a virus that are recognised. This is known as immunodominance. The way in which the virus proteins are processed inside infected cells to yeild the short peptides ultimately recognised by T cells can affect immunodominance. In addition, the number of T cells available at the time of infection that can recognise each peptide plays an important role. In a series of related projects we are examining aspects of infection or immunisation that result in changes in immunodominance for complex reasons. These include unexpected changes seen when very closely related strains of the same virus are used, or when different sites of infection are studied. The outcome of this work has a bearing on interpretation of preclinical vaccine studies and also our understanding of how immune responses are generated during virus infection. (Image: an example of flow cytometry data showing the expression of CD62L [x-axis] and granzyme B [y-axis] on CD8+ T cells during immunisation with vaccinia virus)

Enquiries from prospective students with enthusiasm for immunology and/or virology are welcome.

All projects are potentially open to students, but the exact direction of each and laboratory priorities change on a more regular basis. Please look at our current projects and recent publications and contact David to discuss possibilities within these areas of research.

The lab currently has three PhD students and I generally accept one BSc Honours student each year.

Updated:  26 April 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, JCSMR/Page Contact:  Web Manager