Infection and immunity

Infection is the cause of half of all illness and death in the world. While it is much worse in developing countries, it remains a significant health problem in Australia. In addition, infections are a major problem for our agricultural industries, causing economically important losses in animal production.

A range of bacteria, viruses and parasites cause infectious disease. The human immune system - that powerful collection of cells and molecules that we all have - is our defence against these organisms, but it is not foolproof. Sometimes it is us, and not the invading germ, that suffers most.

Monash researchers are committed to deepening our understanding of the immune system and dissecting the complex interplay between pathogen and host. Researchers across multiple disciplines are working together to throw light on this incredibly intricate system that provides powerful and long lasting protection against many infections but occasionally goes awry. Targeted research programs are exploring natural immune responses and identifying those that are effective and those that cause inflammation and disease.

Monash researchers have made world-leading discoveries in uncovering the complex causes of infection and its relationship to inflammation and the immune system. Through in-depth, multi-disciplinary research across a range of faculties and institutes, Monash is playing a key role in unravelling the primary causes of infection and immune-related illness and tackling them with innovative vaccines, new biologics and new drugs. 

Pioneering research undertaken at Monash is expanding knowledge and developing new therapies for a wide range of illnesses linked to infection, immunity and inflammation, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, fibrotic disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, influenza, clostridial infections, malaria, Chagas' disease and tuberculosis.

Our researchers investigate infection and immunity from a range of angles, including:

  • Analysis of the genetic code of particular germs
  • Identifying how some germs cause illness
  • Deciphering how the human bodies respond to germs
  • Identifying ways to weaken germs or strengthen immune response
  • Designing news drugs for parasitic disease such as malaria
  • Designing new ways to selectively target drugs to the immune cells within the body


Our researchers utilise a range of cutting-edge facilities in their mission to expand knowledge about infection and immunity, including:

Working with industry

Monash works with various partners and institutions in its wide-ranging infection and immunity research.

Contributing capabilities

  • Autoimmunity
  • Bacterial genome analysis
  • Infection control practices
  • Innate immune mechanisms
  • Lymphocytes
  • Vaccines and immunomodulators