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21 Sep 2022

Doherty Institute researcher receives Discovery Early Career Researcher Award

University of Melbourne Dr Maximilien Evrard, Research Fellow at the Doherty Institute, is one of the 200 researchers across Australia to receive a prestigious Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), as announced this week by the Australian Research Council (ARC).

The Australian Government’s DECRA scheme provides promising early career researchers with research support and the opportunity to develop and apply their research skills in a supportive environment, in projects important to Australia. 

Dr Evrard’s $473,254 funding will contribute to his research project focusing on deciphering the rules of T cell residency across intestinal compartments. 

Tissue-resident memory T cells (TRM) are key for immune protection against infection and cancer at barrier sites including the gut. Whilst much of our understanding of gut TRM comes from studies on the small intestine, how these cells develop and function in the large intestine is poorly understood. 

“Tissue architecture, nutrient abundance, microbial density, and immune composition can vary drastically between the small and large intestines. For example, the large intestine is disproportionally more prone to autoimmune pathologies and cancer development. Yet, the factors that dictate TRM generation in the large intestine are elusive,” said Dr Evrard.

Using state-of-the-art techniques and novel animal models, this project aims to identify (i) molecular pathways by which the local intestinal microenvironment influences TRM development, and (ii) how these pathways could modulate TRM generation specifically in the small or large intestine. 

“I hope that our findings will generate fundamental new knowledge that will have significance for regulation of the intestinal immunity,” Dr Evrard said.

“A deeper understanding of TRM biology is needed to enhance intestinal immune protection or dampen autoimmune reactions in a tissue compartment-specific manner.”