Our research aims to understand and disrupt the mechanisms used by bacteria to manipulate the host immune system during disease. We focus on bacteria that cause chronic lung infections such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cenocepacia. Our research uses a mixture of molecular microbiology, immunology, and genomic approaches.

The most important finding of our research is the identification of ‘inhibitory antibodies’ in patients who have chronic Pseudomonas infections. The antibody is a vital part of the immune response for protection against infection. These ‘inhibitory antibodies’ however were found to protect the bacteria from killing by the host immune system. The presence of these antibodies is associated with worse disease outcomes. This finding led to the successful treatment of patients by removal of these antibodies, without the use of antibiotics. Our research explores the mecahnisms leading to antibody-mediated lung damage to guide new targeted therapies.

PhD students

  • Carrie Coggon
  • Joshua Monteith
  • Amy Pham

Our current research projects include:

  • Determining the prevalence and impact of ‘inhibitory antibodies’ in bacterial lung infections including bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis and post-lung transplant.
  • Microbial and Genomic Investigations into Respiratory bacterial pathogens in chronic lung infections
  • Investigating B cell responses to Pseudomonas O-Antigen
  • Host pathogen interactions in chronic Burkholderia cepacia lung infections

Student projects

  • Antibodies and inflammation in chronic lung infection
  • Host-pathogen interactions in Pseudomonas bloodstream infections
  • NHMRC Project Grant 2019-2021: Paradoxical antibody: the role of antibody in exacerbating Pseudomonas lung infection
  • Collaborative Grant 2019-2020: Outfoxing Pseudomonas and Burkholderia infection in lung transplant recipients
  • MRC Emerging Medicine Grant: 2017-2019: Determining the efficacy of plasmapheresis as a treatment for patients with chronic Pseudomonas infections and inhibitory antibodies