Dr Vasanthakumar is a research fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and leads the Treg research team within the laboratory of Professor Axel Kallies. He received his PhD from Madurai Kamaraj University (India), where he discovered a novel genetic switch that regulated antibiotic biosynthesis in bacteria. He took up immunology research during his postdoctoral training in Melbourne and pioneered in the field of regulatory T cell (Treg) biology. He is currently pursuing fundamental and applied questions at the intersection of tissue biology and immunology to better understand autoimmunity, metabolic diseases and cancer.
Dr Vasanthakumar has contributed significantly towards understanding the crosstalk between tissues and Treg cells in health and disease. He discovered key mechanisms utilized by Treg cells to adapt to distinct tissue niches (Vasanthakumar et al., Nature Immunology 2015). His recent pioneering work uncovered sex-differences in immune cells that explained why men are prone to metabolic diseases (Vasanthakumar et al., Nature 2020). He is a founding member and co-ordinator of the Immunometabolism special interest group of ASI and co-organizer of a Treg forum for Australian researchers. His work is supported by grants from NHMRC and Diabetes Australia.