Researcher biography

I am a Senior Research Fellow, NHMRC Emerging Leader Fellow, and Group Leader at UQ Frazer Institute. I was awarded my PhD in late 2017 by Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University. Under the UQ Health Research Accelerator (HERA) program, I lead a team to investigate T and B cell responses that profoundly regulate vaccine responses, viral clearance, and anti-tumour immunity.

My research program employs combinatorial methodologies of Biochemistry and Immunology to uncover new molecular mechanisms controlling T-cell-mediated immunity:

1. The action of T cells is required in antibody responses for suppressing viral infection or tumour growth and to confer protection upon vaccination. In particular, follicular helper T (Tfh) cells, a specialised subset of CD4+ T cells, essentially instruct the B cells to produce long-lived antibody protection. The knowledge of Tfh cells has fundamentally enabled vaccine development and therapy design for autoimmune diseases.

2. T-cell-derived cytokines play pivotal roles in both humoral and cellular immunity. Particularly, interleukin-21 (IL-21) is essential for supporting germinal centre (GC) reaction, where the B cell memory and long-lived antibody responses are generated. Besides, IL-21 is also the only known cytokine to maintain the functionalities of CD8+ T cells in the context of chronic infections or cancers by preventing a loss-of-function program termed 'exhaustion'.

This research program has generated multiple cutting-edge discoveries in the field, producing publications as 1st or joint 1st authors in top-tier journals including Nature Immunology, Science Immunology, and Nature Communications.