From the Chair
Head of Department Professor David Tarlinton
Department of Immunology and Pathology
89 Commercial Road
Melbourne VIC 3004
Phone: +61 3 99030713
About the Department
The Department of Immunology and Pathology of Monash University is located on the Alfred Hospital campus in Prahran as a partner institute in the Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct (AMREP). Other AMREP partner organisations are the Baker Institute, the Burnet Institute as well as the Alfred hospital, where there are strong teams researching related and complementary topics including respiratory, metabolic, cardiovascular and infectious diseases. This environment provides exciting opportunities for the Department of Immunology and Pathology to engage in strong cross-field collaborative and clinically relevant research programs with partners at AMREP. Through this effort the Department of Immunology and Pathology endeavours to become the premier academic Immunology department in Australia actively working at the interface of Immunology and other biological systems.
The Department of Immunology and Pathology at Monash has a prestigious history and counts amongst its alumni some of the most accomplished and internationally renowned immunologists in Australia. It will be an exciting challenge to perpetuate the department’s excellent reputation for high quality teaching and research, but fortunately we are blessed with a very enthusiastic and skilled team of lecturers and researchers. Our department provides one of the most comprehensive and cutting edge courses for undergraduate students in Immunology. We also provide numerous stimulating research projects to post-graduate students. Promotion of Immunology to students and encouragement of progression to honours and post-graduate research studies is a major aim of the department. Our department has also a very strong focus on mentoring of junior scientists and we have in place a number of initiatives assisting career development of both students and early career researchers. The department is fortunate to have several full-time researchers who are at the forefront of their field, internationally, and who publish in the best journals.
The primary function of the immune system is to combat infections and cancers. The immune system is a factory that mass-produces immune cells and so requires stringent quality control processes, which eliminates defective and harmful immune cells and expands healthy and protective cells. While vaccination remains perhaps the greatest contribution of medical research to world health, there are still some exciting discoveries to make. We are entering a golden age where information from the human genome will be translated into new therapies for human disease, including inflammatory diseases such as autoimmune diseases and asthma.
Immunologists have often focused on the immune system as an independent entity. Yet, an increasing number of high impact articles reveal that molecules involved in other systems such as the nervous system, the metabolic system, or the endocrine system also play fundamental roles in the immune system. Moreover, metabolic diseases and several cardiovascular disorders appear to have a strong immune component as a key driver of disease. Psychological stress is a well-known immuno-suppressant but the molecular mechanisms behind this observation remain unclear. Moreover, we are only recently beginning to appreciate the relationship between the immune system and the microbiota colonizing the gut and how important it is to understand the connections between gut microbiota, metabolism, and immune responses. Recent data suggest that diet plays a key role in regulating immune defences, and that changes in gut microbiota, and diet, might be the basis for the epidemic in asthma and autoimmunity in countries with a western lifestyle. Therefore, working at the interface between the immune system and other systems in the body is an exciting future for Immunology research, where some of the most important findings are yet to be unravelled and converted into innovative treatments and clinical outcomes.