The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


Research Projects

Project: Integrating multiomics to decipher regulators of T cell function in chronic infection and cancer

Utzschneider Group

This innovative project seamlessly integrates cutting-edge immunology and advanced bioinformatic analyses to uncover previously undiscovered regulators that constrain T cell function during chronic infections and in tumour environments.

Single-cell RNA-seq data has been generated to start analysis immediately on studies of the T cell response in different infection settings, with potential to publish novel findings in high-ranking biological journals. Additionally, we will generate single-cell ATAC-seq data to delve deeper into our central research question. Beyond biological discoveries, the project foresees the development of bioinformatics methods. This project is flexible, accommodating a dry-lab-only approach while providing the option for wet-lab components if desired. Prospective candidates should possess expertise in bioinformatics and a foundational understanding of biology. 

The successful candidate will benefit from co-supervision by Dr. Daniel Utzschneider from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Dr. Jan Schroeder from the Computational Sciences Initiative (CSI) at the Doherty Institute. This collaborative effort promises a dynamic research environment, fostering interdisciplinary interactions and offering a unique opportunity to contribute to the cutting edge of immunology and bioinformatics.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Dr Daniel Utzschneider 

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Jan Schroeder

Project availability

Utzschneider Group

2 vacancies

Viral Infectious Diseases
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Discovery Research
Clinical and health systems research

CD8+ T cells persistently exposed to antigen, such as during chronic viral infections and in tumors, undergo substantial functional and phenotypic changes, a state widely known as T cell ‘exhaustion’. This includes impairments in effector function and elevated expression of inhibitory receptors such as PD-1. Inhibitory receptors constitute critical checkpoints in T cell activation and their expression represents a major mechanism by which T cell proliferation and function are limited. Blocking the activity of PD-1 augments T cell mediated immunity and has revolutionized our approach to the treatment of many cancers. However, despite the unparalleled success of this so-called checkpoint blockade, it does not revert the functional impairments linked to T cell exhaustion, which constitutes a critical limitation in utilizing the full potential of the body’s immune response.

Our group studies the mechanisms inducing T cell exhaustion with the ultimate goal to identify targets that can lead to the design and development of novel therapeutic treatments to improve health of patients suffering from chronic infections or cancer.