Parasites, Microbes and Host Immunity
The goals of the Parasites, Microbes and Host Immunity (PMHI) team are to understand the mechanisms of diseases and to identify/develop biomarkers, vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
The team’s research focuses include:
- Understanding the host immune response using biological systems;
- Use of biological systems to model the host immune response to danger signals;
- Threat of emerging pathogens from the environment;
- Immunopathology of infectious diseases of global importance;
- Developing and improving health and environmental policies.
The team has expertise in human studies and in the use of in vitro/ex vivo and in vivo models to improve health outcomes by studying the interaction between microbes and host. Our work aims at developing translational research that leads to the improvement of health and environmental policies, the development of novel drugs, start-ups and commercialisation. We provide research-inspired and innovative teaching practices at all levels/for all degrees fostering the next generation of scientists.
Research leader profiles
Dr Valery Combes is a vascular biologist working on pathologies of the microcirculation in infectious diseases with a particular interest for the changes occurring in the brain endothelial cells during cerebral malaria. She uses in vitro systems and animal models to investigate the pathogenesis and the dysregulation of the blood brain barrier occurring in cerebral malaria; and clinical samples to identify new prognostic markers for severe malaria.
Dr Sheila Donnelly
Dr Sheila Donnelly focuses on understanding how helminth parasites modulate mammalian immune responses, particularly the innate immune cell function. In collaboration with Associate Professor Bronwyn O’Brien, Sheila is exploring the immune modulating power of helminth parasites for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
Dr Michael Johnson
Dr Michael Johnson is responsible for light and optical imaging in the Faculty of Science at UTS. He has over 15 years of experience in Apicomplexan parasitology and has high expertise in IFM, 3D imaging by confocal and widefield microscopy (with deconvolution), live cell imaging, high content analysis as well as flow cytometry.
Professor Michael Wallach
Associate Head of the School of Life Sciences Professor Michael Wallach has spent time working in both academia and the pharmaceutical industry. His research has focused on the development of vaccines for Coccidiosis in Chickens (where he developed the first subunit vaccine, CoxAbic®), as well as influenza caused by H5N1. Over the past 5 years, he has also focused on Eimeria developmental biology and the issue of pathogens in kangaroo meat.
Dr Willa Huston is a molecular microbiologist working on understanding how Chlamydia causes infertility in women through molecular and immunological approaches to investigate the disease processes in laboratory models and also using human participant bio-specimens. The health consequences for women and Koalas from chlamydial infections, how we can better diagnose, treat and prevent these outcomes are major focuses of research in Willa's lab.
Dr Maurizio Labbate’s research focuses in the field of lateral gene transfer (LGT) specifically in antibiotic resistance and evolution in bacterial Vibrio species. His research encompasses how changing environmental conditions influence spatiotemporal dynamics of human and aquaculture-relevant pathogenic Vibrio species in Australian waters. Read more about Maurizio and his work (opens an external site).
Dr Bernadette Saunders
Dr Bernadette Saunders is an infectious disease immunologist. Her research focuses on the mechanisms by which macrophages control tuberculosis and regulate inflammation. She studies the modulation of macrophage function through microRNA and microparticle expression; control of inflammation, granuloma formation and the role of TNF family members. She is developing new biomarkers to diagnose active tuberculosis and monitor response to infection.
Associate Professor Anthony George’s research is focused on multidrug resistance in all species with an emphasis on drug efflux mediated by ABC transporters. His research interest also includes cystic fibrosis infection and to alleviate the onset and progression of incurable asbestos-related diseases.
Associate Professor Bronwyn O’Brien’s major research interest is investigating the role of macrophages in the development of autoimmunity. She is currently conducting expression and functional studies of SLC11A1, a gene specifically expressed in antigen-presenting cells. In collaboration with Dr Sheila Donnelly, she is also investigating the use of novel parasite antigens to prevent the initiation of autoimmunity.
Dr Peter Miller
Find out more about Bryce Peters and Peter Miller's work.
For more information about the Parasites, Microbes and Host Immunity team please email email@example.com.