Local Organising Committee

Associate Professor Mark Chong

Associate Professor Mark Chong is Head of the Genomics and Immunology Laboratory at St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne and is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow. He completed his PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne and a postdoc at New York University’s Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine (USA). Mark runs a combined immunology and molecular biology lab. The immunology side of the lab is interested in gene regulatory pathways that control T cell development in the thymus and haematopoietic stem cell function in the bone marrow. The biochemistry side of the lab studies the biogenesis and function of non-coding RNAs, with a particular focus on microRNAs. Mark has been involved with the Immunology Group of Victoria (ASI VIC/TAS Branch) over many years and currently serves as President of the IgV committee.

Doctor Clare Slaney

Clare is a Senior Research Fellow at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Her current research interests are in understanding the interaction between the immune system and cancer, and in the use of immunotherapy to treat cancer. These interests include the use of genetically modified T cells (CAR T cells) to treat solid cancers. Clare has published over 30 papers in high-impact journals including first and last authorships in Nature Medicine, PNAS, Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research and Cancer Discovery. She has obtained over $3M research funding, including 3 fellowships and 5 CIA project grants. Her accomplishments have been acknowledged with a number of awards including the Seymour and Vivian Milstein Young Investigator Award for notable contributions to basic and clinical research in Switzerland (2012), a Joseph Sambrook Award in Research Excellence (2014), and the respected Mavis Robertson Award (2018) that is given each year to a female principal investigator considered to exhibit the greatest promise as a leader in breast cancer research in Australia.

Associate Professor Justine Mintern

Associate Professor Justine Mintern is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow (Level 2) and heads the Vaccine Biology laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne and the Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute, Melbourne Australia. Justine completed her PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia and undertook postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA) and the Whitehead Institute for Medical Research (Boston, USA) before returning to The University of Melbourne, Australia to head her own laboratory. Justine’s research dissects the molecular pathways involved in promoting effective immune responses. Ongoing research includes understanding how to initiate immunity to tumours and infection and the use of cutting-edge nanotechnology to design effective vaccines. She has made fundamental discoveries that have advanced our understanding of antigen presentation pathways and dendritic cell biology. Justine has authored over 80 primary research manuscripts, reviews and book chapters and receives funding from the Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council. She is an Editor of Molecular Immunology and Immunology and Cell Biology journals.

Associate Professor Rhys Allan

Associate Professor Rhys Allan is a laboratory head in the Immunology division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. He completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2007 and following post-doctoral periods at Institut Curie and WEHI he started his own lab in 2015. During this time he made a number of seminal findings that have shaped our understanding of how immune responses are generated.

Doctor Paul Beavis

Dr. Paul Beavis is a Group Leader at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, where his team are focussed upon developing novel immunotherapies for cancer. His research interests predominantly lie in understanding the role of CD73 and adenosine receptor signalling in tumour-induced immunosuppression and in developing novel CAR T cell technology to enhance their effectiveness in solid cancer. Specifically, his team are developing approaches that can enable CAR T cells to overcome factors such as immunosuppression, trafficking and tumour antigen heterogeneity which prevent the successful application of CAR T cells in the solid tumour setting. Paul is a fundamental immunologist, having his completed his PhD in the field of autoimmunity (Imperial College London), and he now applies this knowledge to tumour immunology. His work has a strong translational focus and his collaborative research with industry partners and Peter Mac-based clinicians have provided the foundation for clinical application of his work. Paul currently holds a career development fellowship from the National Breast Cancer Foundation and his work is supported by funding from NHMRC, Cancer Council Victoria and Tour De Cure.

Professor Phil Darcy

is currently a NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and Group Leader at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Phil has pioneered the development of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy over the past 20 years in mouse models of cancer and shown that adoptive transfer of CAR modified mouse and human T cells could effectively eradicate cancer in mice. He has established a number of important collaborations with other immunotherapy groups and clinicians that resulted in a Phase I clinical trial using CAR T cells targeting the Lewis Y (LeY) antigen  being undertaken at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia that represented a first trial of this kind in Australia. A second CAR T cell trial supported by Juno/Celgene is ongoing in patients with LeY+ solid cancers. More recently, his studies have involved combining CAR T cells with other immune based therapies including checkpoint inhibitors which is showing tremendous promise in preclinical mouse models and patients. Phil has served on the editorial board of several journals including Cancer Research and served on numerous grant panels for NHMRC, NBCF and  CCV. He has published over 150 papers in his field, holds several patents and has received tremendous support from both national and international funding bodies and industry. He will play a major role in the future for establishing the Peter Mac as the new “Centre of Excellence” for CAR T cell therapy in the effective treatment of cancer patients.

Associate Professor Mireille Lahoud

Monash Biomedicine Discovery institute Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Assoc. Prof. Lahoud completed her PhD at Monash University, where she focussed on identification and functional analysis of novel DNA binding proteins. She then applied her molecular expertise to the molecular analysis of dendritic cell (DC) subsets at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Assoc. Prof. Lahoud’s research focussed on the identification of DC-surface molecules that underpin DC function in mouse and human, and as DC targets for immune modulation. Her discoveries of DC receptors and their ligands have enhanced the understanding of DC subsets and their functions, and have revealed damage recognition pathways integral for immune responses. She has applied this knowledge of DC receptors and their functions for the development of a platform to modulate immune responses.

Assoc. Prof Lahoud now heads a research team at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University. Her research focusses on Dendritic Cell Receptors, their role in damage and pathogen recognition, and their application for vaccines and immune modulation.

Doctor Kate Lawlor

Dr Kate Lawlor is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and heads the Cell Death and Inflammatory Signalling Group at the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases, Hudson Institute of Medical Research and Department of Molecular and Translational Sciences, Monash University, Australia. Kate completed her PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, (WEHI, Australia) and performed postdoctoral research at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (UK) and WEHI prior to starting her laboratory in 2018. Kate’s research focuses on the molecular dissection of cell death and inflammatory signalling pathways in innate immune cells, and the translation of these findings in vivo using models of autoimmune, inflammatory and infectious diseases. Her recent work has significantly advanced our understanding of programmed cell death in the context of inflammation by revealing how distinct modes of cell death can activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Kate has authored over 50 research manuscripts, reviews and book chapters and receives funding from the ARC and NHMRC. She is actively engaged with industry, and is an inventor on a patent for an anti-inflammatory therapy, now in phase I clinical trials.

Associate Professor Stuart Mannering

Associate Professor Stuart Mannering completed his PhD, in 1998, on human Dendritic cells at Otago University, New Zealand. For his first postdoc he went The University of Melbourne where he worked won T-cell responses to mycobacterial infection. Then he moved to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute to work on human T-cell responses in type 1 diabetes (T1D). In 2008 he established his group at St. Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research where he continues to study human T-cell responses associated with T1D.

The major focus of his group’s work is to dissect the immune pathology of human autoimmune T-cell response that causes T1D. His group was the first to isolate viable human T cells from the islets of organ donors who had suffered from T1D. Currently their focus is on identifying antigens and epitopes ‘seen’ by human islet-infiltrating T cells and developing assays to monitor changes in function of beta cell antigen specific T cells. His work is/has been supported by Diabetes Australia, JDRF, NHMRC, American Diabetes Association, and JDRF-Australia.

Doctor Lisa Mielke

Dr Lisa Mielke is a Victorian Cancer Agency Fellow and Head of the Mucosal Immunity and Cancer laboratory at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute. Dr Mielke is an expert in immune cell biology in intestinal homeostasis and gastrointestinal cancers. She completed her PhD in 2009 at the National Institutes of Health, USA. She performed her postdoctoral studies at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia. During this time, she led numerous studies revealing new and exciting cross-talk between our diet and transcriptional regulation of intestinal innate lymphoid cells (ILC) and gd T cell populations. These studies opened an exciting frontier of research in the field of mucosal immunology that underpin her current work studying the role of these cells in gastrointestinal cancers.

Professor Scott Mueller

Professor Scott Mueller is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Dame Kate Campbell Fellow and laboratory head in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Melbourne, at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. Scott completed his PhD at The University of Melbourne, performed postdoctoral training in the USA at Emory University and then at the National Institutes of Health (NIAID). He received an ARC QEII fellowship and started his laboratory in 2010.  Scott’s research is focused on dissecting the fundamental cellular processes involved in immune responses to infectious diseases in order to identify new targets for vaccine design and therapeutics. His lab is interrogating cell dynamics and cell-cell interactions in vivo utilising animal models and intravital microscopy techniques from the perspective of the immune cells (lymphocytes, dendritic cells) and stromal cells to achieve a detailed understanding of these processes from the cell to the tissue level. His lab is also identifying neuro-immune pathways influencing cell migration and immunity to infection and cancer.

Associate Professor Meredith O’Keeffe

Associate Professor Meredith O’Keeffe is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Laboratory of Dendritic Cell Driven Immunity in Health and Disease, Biomedicine Discovery Institute and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University. Meredith received her PhD from Monash University in 1998 and then spent 6 years in the laboratory of Prof Ken Shortman, WEHI where she was trained in dendritic cell biology. She then worked at Bavarian-Nordic GmbH, Munich, Germany and returned to Australia in 2009, setting up a lab at the Burnet Institute, Melbourne. At the end of 2015 Meredith relocated her lab to Monash University.

Meredith’s laboratory investigates how pathogens and their products and/or or self-nucleic acids activate dendritic cells. We aim to decipher how this activation influences the function of dendritic cells. We investigate how this process may differ in different body locations, at different ages and in different disease settings. Major aims are to understand the role of dendritic cells in bacterial infections, cancers and in autoimmune diseases such as Lupus.