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Professor Andrew Brooks

Professor Andrew Brooks

Professor Andrew Brooks

(03) 8344 9925 |

Head of Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Education & Professional Development
Department of Microbiology and Immunology (DMI)
Lab Group(s):
Brooks Group

Professor Andrew Brooks is an immunologist interested in immune recognition strategies, in particular how immune cells discriminate healthy cells from those infected with viruses or tumours. Before establishing a laboratory in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Andrew completed a PhD in immunology at Flinders University in South Australia and post-doctoral training at the National Institutes of Health, USA. It was here Andrew developed an interest in the receptors used by lymphocytes called natural killer cells that allow them to target tumours or virus-infected cells. Since returning to the University of Melbourne, Andrew’s research has continued to focus largely on receptors that regulate lymphocyte activation.

  • Key Achievements
    • In addition to running a research program in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Andrew is also the Head of Teaching. He has published over 130 peer reviewed papers, many in leading journals including Nature, Nature Immunology and Immunity, and together with his collaborators has been the recipient of in excess of $45 million in competitive grant funding. He is an authority on natural killer cell receptors having made major discoveries largely centering around how these receptors recognise a group of highly variable proteins called Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA), which themselves play crucial roles in transplantation.

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    • Natural killer cell receptor biology

      The killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) recognise distinct groups of highly variable proteins called histocompatibility molecules and regulate natural killer cell responses in infection and cancer. However, the KIR proteins themselves are also highly variable, which in turn impacts on which histocompatibility molecules are recognised. Andrew’s group is defining exactly how variation in KIR impacts on their specificity in an attempt to understand which individuals will have better natural killer cell responses to infection and cancer.

    • The role of HLA-E in transplantation

      HLA-E is a non-classical histocompatibility molecule that regulates both natural killer and T cell responses. Recent evidence suggests that a subset of natural killer cells that recognises HLA-E has a greater capacity to control viral infection. Andrew’s group is investigating whether these cells impact the outcome of transplantation where patients often suffer from repeated infections as a result of immunosuppression. They have also identified a population of T cells that bind HLA-E and respond to cytomegalovirus - a common infection following transplantation. They are assessing how these cells, which are commonly graft reactive, affect organ survival in lung transplant recipients.

    • Differentiation of virus specific helper T cells

      Helper T cells are crucial for the generation of robust immune responses to most pathogens. A key feature of these cells is their capacity to take on functions that are the most effective in combatting particular types of infections. Andrew’s group is assessing how viral infections instruct these T cells to acquire both anti-viral activity and the capacity to home specifically to infected tissues.

    Research Groups
    • Brooks Group

      Research in Andrew’s laboratory is largely centred on how natural killer cells and T cells impact the outcomes of viral infection, cancer and transplantation.

      Lab Team

      Brooks Group

      • Dr Lucy Sullivan
        Senior Research Fellow
      • Dr Jie Lin
        Research Officer
      • Dr Philippa Saunders
        Research Officer
      • Dr Sanda Stankovic
        Research Officer
      • Jacqueline Widjaja
        Research Assistant
      • Christopher Harpur
        PhD Student
      • Shu Cheng Wong
        PhD Student
      • Dr Shinta Dewi
        PhD Student

Full University of Melbourne profile