The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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


Research Projects

Project: Understanding the causes of immune paralysis and secondary infections in sepsis and trauma patients

Villadangos Group

Severe infections (sepsis) and trauma cause dangerous "cytokine storms" followed by a period of immunosuppression that can last for several weeks. Immunosuppressed patients are at risk of suffering secondary or opportunistic infections, a major cause of death in intensive care units. Indeed, secondary pneumonia is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality during viral pandemics (Influenza, COVID-19). Our laboratory has discovered that impairment of macrophages and dendritic cells, the primary initiators of T cell immunity, plays a critical role in immunosuppression. We have termed this phenomenon "immune paralysis". The goal of this project is to characterise the mechanisms that cause macrophage and dendritic cell paralysis and to develop therapies to prevent immunosuppression and secondary infections.



Prof Jose Villadangos

Dr Laura Cook

Dr Antoine Roquilly


Further reading:

A Roquilly, … and J. A. Villadangos. 2017. Local modulation of antigen presenting cell development after resolution of pneumonia induces long-term susceptibility to secondary infections. Immunity 47:135-147. PMID: 28723546.

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.

A Roquilly, JD Mintern and JA Villadangos. (2022). Spatiotemporal adaptations of macrophage and dendritic cell development and function. Annu Rev Immunol 40:525-57, PMID: 35130030.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Prof Jose Villadangos

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Laura Cook

Dr Antoine Roquilly

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