The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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


Research Projects

Project: Regulating macrophage 'eating' for cancer and pathogen control

Villadangos Group

The surface receptor SIRPα plays an important role in regulating phagocytosis by macrophages. This vital innate defence mechanism is vital against pathogens and tumours. We previously found that following sepsis in humans and mice, SIRPα surface levels decreased and this led to reduced phagocytosis and loss of antimicrobial immunity. However, little is known about the molecular regulation of SIRPα and what causes it to go up or down. This project will use whole-genome wide CRISPR screens to investigate the molecular mechanism of SIRPα modulation. It will define new targets for therapeutics to boost macrophage function against infectious diseases and cancer.



Dr Hamish McWilliam

Professor Jose Villadangos


Further reading:

A Roquilly… and JA Villadangos. 2020.  Alveolar macrophages are epigenetically altered after inflammation, leading to long-term lung immunoparalysis. Nat Immunol 21:636-48. PMID 32581370.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Dr Hamish McWilliam

Project Co-supervisor

Professor Jose Villadangos

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

Villadangos Group

6 vacancies

Viral Infectious Diseases
Antimicrobial Resistance
Bacterial and Parasitic Infections
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Discovery Research
Clinical and health systems research

The Villadangos group studies the first event that triggers adaptive immune responses: the presentation of pathogen or tumour antigens to T cells by Dendritic Cells, B cells and Macrophages. We are characterizing the development, regulation and impairment of antigen presenting cells by pathogens, inflammatory mediators and tumours. We are also dissecting the biochemical machinery involved in antigen capture, processing, and presentation. We use this knowledge to understand how T cell-dependent immunity is initiated and maintained and apply it to design better vaccines and immunotherapies against infectious agents and cancer.


All our projects are open to Honours/Master of Biomedical Science students and PhD/MPhil graduate researchers

Villadangos Group Current Projects