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 role of MAIT cells in protection from microbial infections

McCluskey group

There are very few studies that have investigated the role of MAIT cells in protection to microbial infections. In collaboration with microbiologists and clinicians, we have set up a number of infection models in mice relevant to human diseases. By comparing the pathogen burden in MAIT cell deficient versus competent mice, we determine in each model whether MAIT cells are protective. Using MAIT cell specific tetramers, developed originally in our laboratory, we characterise the frequency and function of MAIT cells by a range of flow cytometry-based techniques. Pathogenesis is assessed by histology. Such analysis provides an insight in the underlying mechanisms of protection, which are also determined in protection experiments with mice knocked-out for specific immune mediators. Microbial infection models include viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens. They are also complemented with human in vitro models of infection and where possible, with experiments on samples from patients. As part of this project it is possible to focus only on human in vitro models of infection (and patient samples) or mouse work.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Dr Sidonia Eckle, Dr Zhenjun Chen, Dr Alexandra Corbett

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

McCluskey group

4 vacancies

Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections
Host Pathogens Interactions
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Discovery Research
Translational and Clinical Research

The McCluskey group is an internationally-leading laboratory in mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cell research, having made significant breakthrough discoveries in MAIT cell immunity. These include identifying the antigens recognised by MAIT cells and the associated development of tetramers to characterise MAIT cells (patented). The McCluskey group has also developed human in vitro and in vivo models to understand MAIT cell function and the role of MAIT cells as part of the immune system. In addition, the group has deep expertise in biochemistry, including MAIT cell ligand discovery by mass spectrometry and cellular immunology, allowing to comprehensively address big picture research questions.