Professor Robyn O'Hehir AO

Professor Robyn O'Hehir AO

Current Positions:

Telephone: +61 3 9076 2251
Email: 
(Monash) robyn.ohehir@monash.edu; (Alfred) r.ohehir@alfred.org.au

Office:Department of Allergy, Immunology and Cystic Fibrosis
Respiratory Medicine
5th Floor, Alfred Hospital
55 Commercial Road
Melbourne 3004

Laboratory:
Allergy
Department of Immunology and Pathology
Level 6, Burnet Tower, AMREP
89 Commercial Road
Melbourne 3004

Biosketch

Professor Robyn O’Hehir AO is internationally acclaimed as a key researcher in allergy and respiratory immunology.  Over 25 years, she pioneered and established methodology for cloning human allergen-specific T cells to define their biology.  She has an active patent portfolio in translational research with 12 patent families that have progressed through development.  This research has translated into practical immunotherapy for house dust mite and grass pollen aeroallergens, and currently a therapeutic for peanut allergy is progressing in early phase clinical trials.  As a respiratory physician, she has pioneered use of the natural anti-inflammatory follistatin in cystic fibrosis.  She was the first adult physician to hold a full Professorship in allergy in Australia, is a Life Governor of Asthma Victoria, and has more than 250 publications with over 15,000 career citations. In 2015 she was honoured by election as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and a Fellow of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand. In 2016 Australia Day Honours List, she was honoured as an Officer in the Order of Australia in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the field of respiratory health.

The importance of her research is reflected by her success in competitive grant funding including continuous NHMRC funding (21 NH&MRC or ARC grants over her career at Monash/Alfred since 1997) Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, Cooperative Research Centre for Asthma and Allergy, Australian Food Allergy Foundation, CASS Foundation and Alfred Research Trusts.  In 2007 she was honoured by the NHMRC as one of ten “Great Minds in Australian Research”. Professor O’Hehir also contributes to the community through membership of World Allergy Organisation committees, the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology committee on International Consensus of Allergen Immunotherapy and the Governing Board of Cabrini Health. Professor O’Hehir has served as editor or on the editorial board of the top three discipline specific journals in allergy and clinical immunology. She is regularly invited to give plenary and symposium keynote talks at national and international meetings.

Current Research Focus

Professor O’Hehir’s research targets allergy and inflammation, addressing fundamental issues (including the molecular characterisation of allergens, and regulators of the inflammatory response to allergens) in the context of translation to the clinic, emphasising prevention of harmful clinical outcomes such as anaphylaxis and inflammation-mediated fibrosis.  She has a particular clinical and research interest in grass pollen, peanut and seafood allergy with a view to developing safe and effective diagnostics and immunotherapy for these allergic diseases.   Additionally, she has an active translational research program seeking to progress research and clinical trials into the role of follistatin as a therapeutic for inflammatory lung disorders including cystic fibrosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Selected Research Projects

  • Phase I/IIa clinical trials of a novel T cell epitope-based peptide therapy for peanut allergy
  • Evaluation of immunomodulation and efficacy of oral tablets for grass pollen allergy treatment
  • Identification and characterisation of the major allergens in Australian crustacean species
  • Investigation of sensitization to food allergens by skin products and drugs

Publications

Books

O’Hehir RE, Holgate S and Sheik A (Eds). (2016) Middleton’s Allergy Essentials. 1st Edition. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-323-37579-5

Borg BM, Thompson BR, O’Hehir RE. (2014) Interpreting Lung Function Test: A Step-by-Step Guide. 1st Edition. Wiley Blackwell (on line 12 July 2014) ISBN 9781118405512

Adkinson F, Bochner B, Burks W, Busse W, Holgate S, Lemanske R, O’Hehir RE (Eds)(2014)  Middleton’s Allergy: Principles and Practice 8th edition. Elsevier.ISBN 9780323085939