Defining the basis of unconventional immune cell development

Dr Martin Davey.
Dr Martin Davey.

Congratulations to Dr Martin Davey, a Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researcher who has just received an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA). The DECRA scheme supports research in areas of critical national importance by enabling outstanding Australian and international early career researchers to conduct their research in Australia.

Dr Davey will receive more than $425,000 for his research project titled ‘Defining the basis of unconventional immune cell development’. With this funding, he aims to undertake discovery research to characterise the transcriptional programs that underpin the development of unconventional immune cells.

Unconventional T lymphocytes are a poorly understood component of the immune system but emerge very early in mammalian life. T cells are defined by their expression of a T cell receptor (TCR), however while the majority express diverse ab TCRs (‘conventional’), the remaining cells express either an alternative γδ TCR or a highly constrained ab TCR (‘unconventional’). The study of the developmental origins of human unconventional immune cells is an emerging and important area of basic research and discovery.

“The development of the immune system in early life is now thought to be critical to our response to immune challenges in adulthood, such as microbial infections. I aim to generate new knowledge in this area by using cutting-edge transcriptome analysis and cellular immunophenotyping at the single cell level to examine the seeding of unconventional immune cells,” Dr Davey said.

“This project aims to advance our understanding of immune cell biology and the programs that control them, while significantly strengthening national excellence in unconventional immune cell research and providing innovative methodology,” he said.

Dr David Gonsalvez, a researcher currently based at the University of Melbourne, also received a DECRA grant of $420,000 for his project ‘Glial Plasticity: How experience and aging change brain structure’. Dr Gonsalvez will be joining the Monash BDI in early 2020.

Check out the full list of 2019 ARC DECRAs here.


About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.