The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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


Research Projects

Project: Restoring B cell tolerance in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Mackay, Fabienne Group

Normally, the immune system effectively fights infections and eliminates cancer cells, however, in autoimmunity, the immune system attacks self-tissues. SWHEL mice, which reveal the fate of autoreactive B cells, will be used to test the requirement for specific signalling pathways for B cell tolerance using crosses to knockout mice. This project will examine autoimmune mice (BAFF-Tg) under various experimental treatments, which may benefit via restored B cell tolerance. This work will also explore the relationship between the gut microbiome and the ability of the innate immune system to select safe B cells into the mature B cell repertoire. 

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Professor Fabienne Mackay

Project Co-supervisor

Dr William Figgett

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

Mackay, Fabienne Group

[email protected]

3 vacancies

Cross Cutting Disciplines
Translational and Clinical Research
Public Health

Professor Mackay’s group has an interest in autoimmune diseases and mechanisms leading to loss of immune tolerance, in particular that of B-lymphocytes. Professor Mackay has spent years studying a cytokine from the tumour necrosis factor superfamily named BAFF/ BLyS and demonstrated the role of this factor in B cell survival. Excess B cell activating factor (BAFF) leads to autoimmunity in mice and is associated with human autoimmunity, in particular Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Sjögren’s syndrome. Belimumab, a therapeutic BAFF-blocking antibody has been approved for use in SLE in the clinic in March 2011. This clinical outcome validates over ten years of Professor Mackay’s work on BAFF. 

Mackay, Fabienne Group Current Projects