Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases

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Theme leaders (Available for student supervision)

Richard KitchingMichael HickeyTony Korman

The immune system evolved largely to protect the body from infectious agents. A sophisticated immune system means that humans can fight infection more effectively. However, it also increases the risk malfunctions that cause damaging inflammation. These malfunctions include autoimmune diseases, where the immune system reacts against oneself. Autoimmune diseases affect more than 5% of the population - and other chronic inflammatory diseases are equally important in human health and disease.

Researchers in the Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases theme at the School of Clinical Sciences work in critical areas in both infectious diseases and damaging inflammation. Our research is in areas as diverse as the basic biology of health and disease, through to helping people with disease manage their illnesses better and be treated with better and safer treatments.

We work on autoimmune diseases, including vasculitis, glomerulonephritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren's Syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. Causes of liver, kidney and lung scarring and loss of function are a focus, as are how infection and inflammation influence white blood cells and their movements into tissues. At a more basic level, researchers in the theme work on how inflammatory processes may be linked to cancer, as well as the protective and damaging effects of the first responders to infection and inflammation.

Physician-scientist Professor A Richard Kitching is a kidney specialist whose research focuses on understanding the most severe forms of kidney inflammation (some types of glomerulonephritis and autoimmune vasculitis), As current treatments have significant side effects and are not always effective, we are working towards more targeted and effective treatments that will treat disease without major side effects.

Professor Michael Hickey uses cutting edge imaging technologies to discover how leukocytes are attracted to different organs. Fundamental advances in understanding the biology of diseases have already changed the way we view many inflammatory diseases, and our new understanding of how disease occurs opens up new treatment possibilities.

A/Prof Tony Korman is the Director of Monash Infectious Diseases.  Monash Infectious Diseases conducts a wide range of basic, clinical and translational research activities and clinical trials for a range of infectious diseases.