Infection and Immunity is a broad area of research that addresses health issues at the intersection of infection, immunity, chronic disease and community.
Focus on infection and immunity
At SAHMRI our Infection and Immunity team is focused on three key areas:
- the molecular and cellular interactions that regulate our immune system
- the microbiome and how it interacts with the immune system
- sexually transmitted infections, blood borne viruses and other infectious diseases prevalent in Aboriginal communities
Our team use immunology, bioinformatics, microbiome and clinical platforms to build programs looking at the impact of microbiota on vaccine responses, chronic lung infections, the gut/brain axis, networks in cancer and STIs and blood borne viruses in Aboriginal communities.
Understanding the microbiome
The microbiome is the community of microbiomes that exist in our bodies. Researchers have become increasingly aware that the microbiome plays an incredibly important role in our overall health. When a patient's microbiome is disrupted (dysbiosis), for example by taking antibiotics, there are long-term impacts on our health. Earlier this year our researchers played an important role in a project aimed at decreasing the impact conditions like diarrhoea have on babies in developing countries. Led by Associate Professor Geraint Rogers, the aim of our microbiome research is to improve our ability to understand and treat bacterial infection and dysbiosis.
STIs and blood borne viruses in Aboriginal communities
Diagnosis of HIV in Aboriginal communities has almost doubled that of non-Aboriginal communities.
Sexually transmissible infections and blood borne viruses are a tremendous health burden on Aboriginal communities. This is despite the fact that sexual activity is reported at rates similar to that of non-Aboriginal populations. Led by Associate Professor James Ward, our research examines strategies around best practice for control of these diseases through Aboriginal primary health care services, translating research outcomes into meaningful policy and practice, and building the next generation of researchers in this field.
Innate versus adaptive immunity
Our innate immunity is made up of cells and proteins that are always ready to be activated and fight infection. Adaptive immunity enables us to remember certain microbes, and launch a stronger and faster immmune response when they next appear. Associate Professor David Lynn has developed an internationally-recognised systems biology platform to enable computational analysis of innate immunity networks and pathways. This work around network biology has been expanded into cancer signalling, to help researchers model and subsequently target cancer networks with treatments.