Dr Kirsten Fairfax - The University of Tasmania

Dr Kirsten Fairfax Dr Kirsten Fairfax



Hosted by: Dr Julia Ellyard



The human immune system is complex, amazing and dynamic, demonstrating remarkable variation between individuals. It defines how people vary in their susceptibility to disease and respond to pathogens or cancer. We have recently completed a large scale single-cell study examining the transcriptomes of over 1,000 peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 984 individuals, and were able to describe thousands of expression Quantitative Trait Loci that are finetuning immune cell gene expression in humans. We hypothesised that we could further use this incredible single cell dataset to understand more about the heterogeneity in gene expression between individuals within cell types, and to find new markers that discriminate cell types across this large set of individuals with their diverse exposure to environmental stimuli and outbred genetic characteristics. We are now working using CRISPR screening approaches to validate these loci and to interrogate haematopoietic cell development.



Dr Kirsten Fairfax is the Alex Gadomski Fellow and senior lecturer at UTAS. She leads a small team working on the immunology and genetics underpinning Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes and haematopoiesis at the School of Medicine at UTAS, as well as teaching into first, second and third year BioMedicine. Her research work focusses on using molecular biology techniques such as single-cell RNA sequencing and CRISPR to understand more about the development of blood cells, and to generate new potential therapeutics. Dr Fairfax began her immunology training in David Tarlinton's lab at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, where her PhD was focused on the generation and specification of antibody secreting cells. In the intervening years she has worked in the UK at the Babraham Institute (Cambridge) and Monash University, always focusing on the development and function of the immune system in health and disease, before returning to Tasmania where she grew up, to start her own laboratory.